Julian Simonsz could well be the most composed man in Australian R&B. "Wow! I haven't heard that one before" he admits laughing. "Nah, I just think … maybe being 28 [years old], I have done a little maturing over the years." Australian audiences will know this incredible singer only too well. He made the cut for the Top 24 of The Voice, and famously gained all four judges attention – which is no mean feat. Simonsz is humble in his recognition "... it has taken this long to get where I am. My mind has been really focused and I've worked hard for it."
Now as an independent artist, his new single 'I Do it For You' was released on October 10 and his debut album is out on November 21. Melbourne audiences will be able to catch his launch on November 23, at The Northcote Social Club. A national tour was planned (and is still on the cards), but he's focused on getting the song into the charts. "With the single release we had to change plans, and I didn't want to organise a big tour where you go around Australia, if time permits might do it at the end of the year – but with Christmas and New Year … I don't know!" The filmclip is receiving full support from fans, a concept the talented singer created. "I wanted a song that I could relate to the general public, something they could listen to and say – it is about someone who is important, whether it be your mum, partner, community … as well as being a song about my wife."
The song was inspired by his long-term partner, Nelu. It was his way of expressing a heartfelt thank you to his gorgeous doctor-in-training and now, wife. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her, she is such an amazing person, she has been managing me, which is crazy." The "mastermind" behind all of his social media, I ask what he would've done had it not of been for The Voice and the help of his wife? " … I don't think I would have any time for music [creating it], it is crazy you have to be so up with it [social media], otherwise people just drift away. I didn't realise how much social media has an impact on you as an artist."
Thinking for a moment he adds, "if I hadn't gone on The Voice, I think it [my music] would've taken a slightly different direction. I would've still been stuck at home, slowly pondering with my production and no real direction. Getting on the show really gave me the drive." With a Bachelor of Audio under his belt, he completed this last year, to gain a full understanding of "the technical aspects" of music, and broaden his knowledge of mix engineering – one of the more complicated elements. His days are now spent in his home studio, pursuing his passion. With support from great producers like MSquared (former Voice contestant Michael Paynter and business partner Michael Delo) and family, it's really helped nail his sound.
The collaboration with MSquared Productions was kismet. But initially, looked like a no-go when the duo advised "they don't really work with R&B artists." With 165 singles produced across their career, interestingly the first single produced, was an R&B artist, so things took a positive turn for Simonsz. "They heard my original stuff and thought yeah, there is something we can do. They knew me from the show, and yeah we just gelled." Gelled could well be an understatement. With the studio originally booked for one week, to do one track – the trio ended up pumping out three tracks in seven days, "which we co-wrote, recorded and mixed. It was such a good experience, both of them are really likeable – I know, as corny as it sounds!" He tells me they are "literally like one person." With this unique element cutting the studio time in half, he earnestly advises, it was an amazing experience. "It was so productive, I've never had that."
The other great driving force is his family. Before he completed the mix engineering degree, he finished a Bachelor of Design and was toying with the notion of moving to Europe – for better career prospects. "I wasn't ready to leave, and then I decided – look, I have always loved music and it was something that was always sitting on the side. I thought, why don't I just do it full time?" When The Voice auditions came up, he saw it as "a once in a lifetime opportunity. Now it is all finally happening, make the most of it." He breaks into laughter when he explains his families reaction, especially his Sri Lankan father, "I think my dad was a bit taken away, he was like oh ... I didn't even know you could sing!"
He confides that he got his love of music from his dad, "I was brought up listening to country music – but dad has never probably seen me sing up until The Voice. They have been so supportive, mum and dad .. in the back of their minds they know it is a tough industry." The mix engineering has enabled him to extend out and appreciate all styles of music, but with country music, "I really have a soft spot for it. The lyrics and meaning … they are written like real life stories, I get touched when I listen to it. Ahhh, I catch myself tearing every now and then!" he admits laughingly.
There's a philosophic nature that is endearing about Simonsz and he's optimistic about his music. "I am trying to get myself charted, so I can get signed up and get myself really out there." He hopes that one day, "I can give up everything, and music will be financially rewarding." One thing that won't stop him is regrets – "I don't want to look back and go ohhhhh, I wish I did it this way or that way. I think we've done everything we possibly can from our own knowledge and finding out what we need to do." For all his wisdom, he knows it is "hard work, you gotta fork out money from your pocket, but I am happy and if my music is good enough it is going to create a buzz anyway." I'm pretty sure his music is good enough, with his wife and 'Julian's Army' passionately supporting him – the skies the limit.