We had the good fortune of connecting with Tristan Simone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tristan, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I believe that taking risks means to sacrifice. It takes a certain type of conviction and confidence to trust yourself enough to show others what you have to offer. The reason taking risks is important is because otherwise you will never know what could have been.
My career as a musician has involved some of that. The biggest risk I’ve ever taken was knowing that I was going to pursue Hip-Hop as a career. I never in my life thought that Berklee College of Music would ever accept a rapper into their school, but after seeing my friend Zaid Tabani performing in Boston back in 2015, it gave me the confidence to rap in my audition. I don’t think he knows this, but he’s an important part of my story because Zaid showed me that I could come to Berklee to Rap.
I was incredibly fortunate to surround myself with hard working, passionate, and driven young musicians that are a huge part of my music journey. At some point in 2020, I had a 60-piece team that included 20-piece choir, vibraphonist, 2 DJ’s, horn section, dancers, more than 20 musicians and supporting acts. As you can imagine, most venues didn’t want to deal with setting up 60 people, but every single one member of the Tristan Simone Show was an integral part of the team and the vision that I had for my project called Bella Madness was about community, inclusivity and great music. My manager Victoria Verba and I were constantly negotiating with the venues to have all of my musicians in the show, and it was definitely a risky thing to do while you are an emerging artist. However, our efforts were proved to be worthy: sold out shows, unbelievable atmosphere and a great team that is always ready to march with me to fight for our spots on those stages.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As much as I am devoted to Hip-Hop, I think telling people I’m a rapper limits me because I love many things. The art of Tristan Simone includes visual art, jazz, rap, R&B, Latin music, collaborations, music videos, acting, performing, and writing. Currently, I am most proud of my latest project, The Wounded Coyote. The lead single, Purgatory, was written and envisioned to have a music video that featured a large amount of people for it. You can find it on my YouTube page. The fact that Misha Bogomolov and I pulled it off during a pandemic, keeping it Covid-safe, yet managing to bring so many people together, is honestly my most recent and proudest achievement. I’ve been really focused on the visual side to the story I’m telling, and being able to bring the lyrics of the music to life through film is very unique and motivational.
I’ve always had to prove myself twice as hard in the field of Hip-Hop. I always had to make sure I knew the most about rap music in any setting I was in. I don’t know why I felt so compelled to be like this as a kid. I love Hip-Hop like people love comic books or sports. I’m a nerd. I studied and listened and studied and listened repeatedly for years. I literally moved to the woods of Bethel, Maine for two years to disappear from the world and focus diligently on Hip-Hop literature, music, culture and art. I read every goddamn book there is to read and listened to every album I can think of. It was my soul responsibility. This passion alienated me a lot as a kid growing up, but I know the day is going to come where my passion and knowledge can but put to use.
The journey hasn’t been easy, and I am little without my band, without my team, without my parents, and without those who believe in me. Everybody surrounding my work is a contributor to how where I am today.
We have recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to fund the release of my new album, and I would appreciate it you took your time to read and share it with your friends!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would definitely start with the Hollywood Sign hike – it’s iconic. Then, we would go to brunch at Beachwood Cafe – their food and drinks are amazing. Santa Monica is a must-see, and ideally it would be a beach day with nice food after. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to many places just yet, as I moved to LA during Covid. But I am very excited to explore it more and perform at the venues as they start opening up. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My successes are because of the people and institutions that I’ve been lucky to meet and be part of. I need to begin with Gould Academy, a small boarding sch I need to begin with my parents, who continue to this day, support my vision and dreams. Secondly, I need to mention Gould Academy, a small boarding school in Bethel, Maine, that provided me with a stage, music teachers, mentors, lessons in music theory, and has connected me with some of the most passionate people I have met to date. Gould gave me the tools I needed to begin a career in music. I will be back one day to teach and invest and lift up. Next on the list is my alma matter, Berklee College of Music. At Berklee, I met all the people that I work with today. She provided me with a spectrum of nationalities and personalities that continue to discipline my artistry to this day. At Berklee, I was able to explore and play the music of some of my heroes: E-40, Paul Wall, Lana Del Rey, T-Pain, La Rosalía, King Crimson, etc.
Finally, I rely deeply on the help of my team and my amazing supporters. Without the management of Victoria Verba, the production of Sergio Manique Jr, the mixing of Luca Zadra, and my fans and friends on social media, I wouldn’t be writing this today.