We had the good fortune of connecting with Yan Simon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yan, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
That no amount of external influence can help you if you don’t believe in yourself and your career. People can be extremely supportive, or, conversely, try to put you down every chance they get. At the end of the day, those people will continue going on about their lives, while you will be left to deal with your own. There has to be an innate, unconditional drive within you to continue building whatever it is you want your life to be, and it cannot rely on somebody’s approval or judgement.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My name is Yan Simon and I am a pop musician, composer, and singer-songwriter. I am originally from Israel and I immigrated to Canada in 2010, when I was 14. Music has been an integral part of my life since I was five years old, when my mom taught me the basics of piano.
I’ve been writing songs since high school – they were mostly about not fitting in (as a closeted kid), and being heartbroken over unrequited love (as most high-schoolers are).
I got my first taste of serious songwriting in 2017 when I was recruited to write a 12-song score for an original musical by a youth theatre group in Toronto. It was an incredible experience writing music that told a story. The musical was performed by a dynamic cast of which I was a part of in front of hundreds of people.
It was a success, and it inspired me to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. At that point I had already graduated university with a B.Sc., and I knew that it was now or never.
I released my first studio album titled ‘Are There Any Rules?’ in 2020. It is a collection of alternative, indie and electro-pop tracks documenting the tragedy of losing my dad, my queerness, depression, and more.
It was a very exciting project for me. Going to the recording studio in between my shifts at the condo gym I worked at was like a breath of fresh artistic air. I felt like a child who had just discovered a new set of toys to play with.
In many ways that childlike obsession with creation, with disregard to any rules, became the very theme of this album.
I financed and executive produced the entire project, along with two music videos, myself.
In hindsight, I should have known that releasing an entire album without having built any semblance of an online following was a questionable choice. I delved headfirst intro the creation without putting enough thought into branding or marketing. As result, the album did not resonate much further than my small Facebook audience and friends.
It was a hard lesson to learn, yet I am proud of this album, and of the numerous walls I had broken within myself to write, record, and release it.
Since then, I have recorded and released an EP titled ‘DAYDREAM’, and two singles – ‘Hero’ and ‘Clear Lines’ – each with it’s own music video.
As the pandemic waves and ensuing lockdowns came and went, I had performed in countless open mics in downtown Toronto where I played my original songs as well as covers by Elton John, Lady Gaga, Queen, and the like.
I have performed in an online fundraising concert, an Indie Music outdoor festival, and a paid NYE party, to name a few notable gigs.
My music video for my single ‘Hero’ has been nominated in the Best Pop Music Video category at The 4th Annual Canadian Independent Music Video Awards. I am also currently collaborating with two other artists on a special performance that will air during that ceremony.
Currently my most exciting news is that I’m releasing a new single on March 12th titled ‘Hey Boy’.
It’s my first ever love song, inspired by a long distance relationship. Like my preceding two singles, ‘Hey Boy’ will also be accompanied by an epic music video shot in Toronto.
As an artist and songwriter I want my music and lyrics to reach as far and as wide as possible. I want people to listen to the stories I share and think “this is what I’ve been feeling or going through all along.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I immigrated to Canada in 2010. Though I didn’t get to grow up in Toronto, I’ve come to know and love this city in my own particular way. Toronto is such a diverse place to live in. There are so many different types of places and landscapes to see. Personally, my favourite things about the GTA are the green spaces and parks, and the diverse eateries.
We would start our day at a bakery, such as Patisserie Sebastien or Pâtisserie La Cigogne in midtown. Lately I’ve been really into starting my weekends in this way. It’s such a special moment.
Then, assuming it’s a nice day, we would go to Sunnybrook park. We’d hike all through Edwards Gardens and enjoy the fresh air and untouched forest. Maybe we’d even go for a bike ride!
For lunch we’d head over to my favourite pizzeria in town, Pizza e Pazzi. They make authentic thin-crust Neapolitan pizza that is just out of this continent. It does not disappoint.
We’d take the street car downtown, walk around Little Italy, visit Trinity Bellwoods park, and go to Lula Lounge for dinner and live jazz music.
To top off our Toronto experience we’d head over to Polson Pier and enjoy the unique viewpoint of the harbor and the city skyline.
Writing this made me excited for doing this exact itinerary come spring!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a shoutout to my friend and producer Dima Graziani. We first met in 2018. I composed the score for an original musical and Dima was our recording producer. A year later, when I decided to embark on my solo journey as a pop musician, I contacted Dima and recruited him as my producer. We’ve been working together ever since. He has always been very supportive of my work, and has, both literally and figuratively, helped me become the musician that I am today.
Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/39aVU2qwptGAedrojQK8BO?si=au9HVxItQemBtYmFDkQ23Q SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/yansimon TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@yansimonmusic
Photographers: Jordy Clarke (first and last photo) MG Ommert (other photos)