The other day I got a chance to sit with the one and only Simon Blaze. A multi-talented German-based artist from Munich, who recently in 2020 established his own record label, Gentlemaniacs Records. Even still, people ask, who really is Simon Blaze? Well for starters Simon Blaze was lucky enough to get an early start in the music game from his father who was in fact a studio musician in his younger years. Simon Blaze’s father opting to play the drums and guitar for professional studio recordings. Along with that his father also danced for an Armenian folklore group. The music running deep into the family roots inevitably led Simon Blaze at the age of 12, to start creating his own music with Music Maker made by Magix. Simon told me “I started making music at a time where myspace was a real thing. I wrote to hundreds of different artists and sent them my beats. One who really liked my productions was David Correy.”
Both of them together released “Live your life” in 2011, which did numbers on Youtube. Simon told me how crazy euphoric it felt reaching a million streams without a label for both of them. It was also the first time he started to realize the lack of limelight on the producer. After that, another single dropped called “Hottest In My City” which was remixed by several rappers including Yung Berg, Murda Moo, King Los, and Bossman. With the aid of the quick adapting internet, the track was played everywhere including Simon Blaze’s own city. All this hype but still no limelight. This later led Simon to venture down other avenues in the music game.
I asked Simon, “first things first, what got you into music?” He could only respond with “My father had this Yamaha keyboard at home. One day after watching my first YouTube videos I tried my luck. I was fascinated by the different possibilities and sounds.” Going on to tell me he later took a cappellas of famous radio hits and created his own remixes with them. At age 15 he started producing his own beats without a single idea of what pitches or harmonies were. “Back then I had no idea what a chord even looked like,” Simon told me with a chuckle. This led him to spend hours upon hours trying to figure out which note gels together just right.
“Simon let me ask you something, at what point do you think the music game was for you?” I asked next. He told me it started in 2009 when he sent demons of his friend Pietro Basile, a now-famous singer, to Sony BMG. They invited the two of them over to the studio to reproduce the songs on professional equipment. This was a big revelation for Simon who told me, “This was the first time I realized I wanted to make a living off my music.”
What About The Inspiration?
Everybody looks up to someone, “Idols, who inspires you?” After a minute of thinking or so he tells me “Joe Thomas & Chris Brown. I grew up listening to Keith Sweat, Babyface, K-Ci & JoJo, and other various R&B artists. The one I always admired the most was Joe.“ When I pressed him for more he elaborated with “don’t know why but his music always touched me, his voice, and the productions behind his songs. When I started I always wanted to create music like that.” He then goes on to illustrate the influence of Chris Brown over the last few years. Going on to state how he loves Chris Brown’s music, work ethic, and most importantly the vast range Chris can pull off without falter.
Additionally, I asked, “Can you pick one song that really spoke to you?” To my surprise, it was not a particularly special song but to Simon, it meant a lot. “It would probably be Dru Hill – Sleeping In My Bed (SoSO Def Remix). I don’t think there is a song that’s so simple yet so powerful. This song has shaped my childhood and always reminds me of it” Going to show how a song doesn’t need to world-class hit to make an impact on people.
“Straight up, on a day by day basis, what really motivates you to work on your craft?” I asked trying to get an understanding of the drive. Simon explains to me how he loves the results that come with the hours and hard work that he puts in. Going on in detail to say “Some projects sound mediocre in the beginning and end up being a hit once I work on the details. Most of the time when I start a project I only finish it to 95%, then another day I come up with the other 5% and the whole project is a vibe.”
The creative process is vastly varied from artist to artist. For Simon he explains to me that most of the time the music comes to him. Whether it be in a car or somewhere outside of the studio, when the melodies come to his mind he records them in voice memos once the inspiration hits. He later goes on to recreate them once he’s in the studio. He tells me somewhat ironically that “I feel like the best ideas come to my mind when I am the farthest away from the studio.” Although this is typically how it goes down, at times Simon gives himself deadlines to force some ideas to pop through in his mind.
Simon Blaze has ventured down several avenues in the music game which made me ask, “Since you do so much with music what do you think is your strongest skill?” Simon goes in-depth demonstrating how he feels the music market is a circle. “In the last few years, 90s influence carried some of the biggest R&B and hip-hop records. I would say I got a certain talent for recreating classics and giving them a modern vibe.”
Ups And Downs
Life in the music game can be both grueling and rewarding, I asked Simon “What were or are your biggest accomplishments?” Simon makes it clear that “My biggest accomplishment is marrying the love of my life and our beautiful child. Music-wise it’s over 50 million streams on music that I created. It’s crazy that I produced for some major artists like Yung Berg who now produces some of the hottest records as Hitmaka or King Los who was signed to Badboy Records. Imagine having an idea and a few months later people will jam to it. My music got played in front of thousands of people.”
By the same token, Simon also goes on to unravel the struggle and hurdles that he faced. “I think the music business itself is a big obstacle. People will ignore you until your numbers are right, or you know the right person. Without the right management/label a lot of talents will never make it to the top. You can be the best singer, the best producer, or rapper but in a world where viral hits make stars, you need a good portion of luck to push your career to a point where people really celebrate you. I got millions of streams and only a few thousand followers across my social media platforms. Those are two different worlds and sometimes it’s exhausting.”
With social media at the forefront, Simon clarifies how at times social media frustrates him about the music game. “I want people to love my music, not me or my looks. I hate when people only follow or support me for my looks.” Going on to say “I feel that musicians should be famous for the music, not the tattoos, hairstyles, or clothes. I wish I could do this whole thing without having social media accounts.”
Now I know what you’re thinking, what’s Simon Blazes plan for the future? Don’t worry I asked him precisely that. I wanted to know where he sees himself in the next 5 years in terms of the music game. He tells me he hopes to see himself on top of some charts with his hot production. “My goal is to make a living off what I love the most – creating music. A freedom I worked for really hard.”
With his new record label out, I went to ask him what hopes to accomplish with Gentlemaniacs Records. He went on to give me a very heartfelt speech, “I started Gentlemaniacs to give my team a name that people would always remember. Now I just want to release music independently. Most labels I have seen will limit your career – GR will push artists and pay them fair. Some talented newcomers should get a fair chance to get heard.”
Ultimately I wanted to end this interview on something for the little guy, the kid who’s trying to make music a viable life. I asked Simon Blaze what his advice would be to that person. He fell back to his own experiences and told me this; “Never chase somebody. In my first years, I sent over 1000 beats to artists and waited for weeks, sometimes months only to be ignored or not be mentioned as a producer in the end. Artists tried to charge me to sing on my beats (even tho they would release the song under their names). Know your worth and invest in your own career.”