Guitar Girl Magazine caught up with Juliet Simms of The Voice fame and had an intimate conversation about her early beginnings, musical influences, her incredible experience on The Voice, working with CeeLo Green, and what's next.
“I started playing guitar when I was about 13 or 14 years old and what inspired me to start was my older brother who played guitar and was absolutely getting sick of having to write the music for lyrics I wrote. I would say ‘put music to this’ and he finally got so fed up, he just put a guitar in my hand and said ‘learn this.’ So, at first, before I started taking lessons, I would just go online and find tabs and chords and try to figure things out for myself. My brother would give me pointers and tips and I took a few lessons, but mostly, I was self-taught.
Juliet recalls her first guitar, an acoustic Carlo Robelli, which apparently was not much to work with, but according to Juliet, “it got the job done.”
Originally from San Francisco, California, Juliet later moved to Tampa, Florida with her family. That is where she started writing lyrics which would later become songs for her American Rock Band, Automatic Loveletter. Later she moved to Los Angeles for an “Indie deal” and started playing solo gigs at The Viper Room and the famous Whisky on Sunset in Los Angeles. From there, she started touring and joined the Punk Rock tour “The Warped Tour” which led to her discovery by The Voice.
Juliet had many musical influences, having grown up in a “rock n roll family,” and she recalls listening to The Beatles initially, then Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Steve Miller, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and later discovered music on her own, listening to Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, all while being inspired by female artists such as Fiona Apple, Jewel, Alanis Morissette, and Joan Jett.
The big question for song writers today seems to be “where does your inspiration come from?” Juliet explained that her inspiration comes from real life experiences, like love, life, and heartbreak, which are where many of her Automatic Loveletter songs came from. “I’m a pretty prolific writer so I’m constantly jotting down lyrics…I even wake up in the middle of the night with a melody in my head I have to record, but I mean, I’m inspired on a daily basis so like if I’m on tour and I’m feeling lonely or missing my boyfriend or if I had a crap day, I pretty much – music is where I vent from.” She further goes on to say that “Songs are how I communicate. I’m better at communicating through singing than I am by actually talking in real life. So anything I want to say pretty much comes out in my music.”
It was during the Warped Tour in 2011 when The Voice approached Juliet and invited her to a closed audition. At first, she was feeling like there was no way she was going to get involved in a “singing competition.” “No way! I had been doing it the real way for so long and I felt like it would make me lose my artist creativity.” But after watching season one, she became a huge fan and changed her outlook on The Voice and actually came to think of it as a real show about singers that were trying to make it, and had been trying for a long time. “They weren’t choosing people that woke up one day and said ‘I want to try to sing.’” After the Warped Tour ended, Juliet set off to the closed audition of The Voice, moved into a hotel, and the whole process started.
Most fans will remember her brave rendition of the Beatles hit “Oh! Darling” on the live show. Juliet recalls that this was a natural for her since the first music she ever heard was The Beatles. So for her, it was a “no brainer” to pick a Beatles song. Having sung “Oh! Darling” as her audition song in the first audition and having covered that song in the band Automatic Loveletter on tour, it was something that she felt so comfortable with she knew she could nail it, and that she did!
Juliet Simms singing "Oh! Darling" on The Voice:
On the set of The Voice, Juliet said that after months of build-up, knowing she would get just one chance, she was hoping anybody would turn around. She knew right then and there when CeeLo was the first one to turn around, that she wanted to be on his team. “He’s so genuine and true and has such a big heart, it touched my soul and I’ve always been such a huge fan of his…it just felt like the right choice and it turned out, I was right,” says Juliet.
Juliet went on to explain how it felt like a great team collaborating on song choices with CeeLo. She recalled getting the song “Roxanne” and at first, she thought, “Roxanne”? But she calmed down knowing that CeeLo was very smart and that together they would “figure this out.” So sitting on her carpet in her living room, Juliet picked up her acoustic guitar and started playing and playing until she came up with a version of how she wanted to sing the song, and after working on that version for a few hours, she became very excited about it and began to understand why CeeLo had chosen that song. Once Juliet started rehearsing with the band, the arrangement started to come together and at that point, CeeLo was also excited.
Then he chose “It’s a Man’s World” which came at a perfect time because as Juliet explained, “I was up against one other guy the week before and it was just kind of poetic in a sense.”
Juliet reflected on her experience on The Voice and spoke of how much she gained with a record deal under Universal Republic Records, and a co-managing team including Primary Wave and none other than CeeLo Green, and then she said, “this was clearly a huge advantage from the show, I mean it’s changed my life completely. It’s insane. It’s pretty crazy. Even to this day, if I go in to get coffee, someone from the coffee shop will say ‘you should’ve won’ or ‘you were great on the show’ or whatever.”
“My life has changed forever,” says Simms and goes on to say, “it’s made me into more of a professional performer, helped shape, mold and discover Juliet Simms as an artist separate from Automatic Loveletter, while giving me the confidence on stage that I didn’t really have before.”
Juliet spoke of the team at Primary Wave and says, “They’re all such great people to work with…the ideas flying left and right. It’s amazing. I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
Juliet was blessed with her powerful, raspy vocals and during her tenure on The Voice, she was fortunate to work with acclaimed musician and vocal coach, Romeo Johnson, who built on her natural talent through various practice tips and exercises. When she was working on a song, “I would sing it for Romeo and he would pretty much have me run through it a bunch of times and he would say ‘whatever you’re doing, it’s freakin’ awesome, just keep doing it,’” recalls Juliet.
Juliet just recently completed touring with Secondhand Serenade where she performed some of her Automatic Loveletter music as well as her new hit single “Wild Child” and Guitar Girl Magazine had the chance to see her show at The Vinyl in Atlanta where several young female fans were in attendance. Talking about being a role model for her young fans, Juliet considers that the most important part of her job and said, “Being a role model and a symbol for kids…there’s nothing more inspiring, more rewarding than that feeling!”
When asked what advice she has for young aspiring female musicians that want to pursue music as a career, Juliet says “practice, practice, practice and be yourself…find your own material and find out who you are.”
And for all musicians hoping to obtain a spot on a reality show like The Voice, American Idol or the X-Factor, Juliet stresses, “I can’t tell you how much having been a touring artist and putting out records before helped me in knowing who I was as an artist. I knew how to work a stage, I knew how to work the crowd. You know, it’s experience…it’s the biggest beneficiary for a show like that. Be unafraid. The best advice would be to get out and perform.”
Not only is Juliet a talented guitarist and singer-songwriter, she also is a young entrepreneur with her own line of jewelry called “Never Take It Off.” She was inspired to start this line of jewelry when she released her acoustic album in 2011 with Automatic Loveletter called “The Kids Will Take Their Monsters On.” It started off as jewelry she would sell at their merch table. She said, “I made these bracelets with different vows and promises and a little poem came with it. It’s like a friendship bracelet with promises or vows to yourself and that’s how that started. It just grew into this thing where kids were just loving these bracelets and there’s actually a whole company around it now.”
Juliet has recently released a new single titled “Wild Child” with Universal Republic Records and her new music video for the song which can be seen here. Julit has an upcoming album release scheduled for later this year where she will feature some new songs going back to female artists that inspired her from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.
The Official Music video for "Wild Child" has been released and can be seen by clicking here.
In addition, her Warped Tour fans miss her and will be pleased to know that Juliet will return to Warped Tour this summer. "The Vans Warped Tour fans and I have missed Juliet and welcome her back with open arms,” says Kevin Lyman, Founder of Vans Warped Tour. “We are all very stoked to have her play some shows on the tour this summer!"
Here are the dates & cities that Juliet will be visiting this summer:
7/7 Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Concert Center
7/9 Virginia Beach, VA @ Farm Bureau Live At Virginia Beach
7/10 Washington, D.C. @ Merriweather Post Pavilion
7/11 Boston, MA @ Comcast Center
7/12 Camden, NJ @ Susquehanna Bank Center
7/13 New York, NY @ Nassau Memorial Coliseum
7/14 Hartford, CT @ The Comcast Theatre
We also had some fun questions for Juliet:
What was the first concert you ever attended?
Blink 182 and Bad Religion
What are the Top 3 songs on your playlist?
Counting Crows – Round Here
Brian Adams – Come Pick Me Up
Janis Joplin – Piece of My Heart
If you could pick a dream performance, who would it be with and where?
Foo Fighters or David Bowie at Wembley Stadium
GET SOCIAL WITH JULIET SIMMS
Photo credits: Cover photo by Brian Higbee
This article was written by:
Tara Low is an entrepreneur in Atlanta, GA who has created and developed an online music store, Guitar It Up for Girls www.guitaritupforgirls.com, which caters to female musicians (both aspiring and accomplished). Tara launched her business in 2009 and has created business alliances with major manufacturers of musical instruments and charitable organizations which she supports including Los Angeles Women in Music, Guitars in the Classroom, Girls Rock, Special Angel, A Place Called Home, and various others which she has supported through these partners.
Tara is a member of Los Angeles Women in Music, the National Association of Music Merchants and The Recording Academy.