Described as ‘indie noir meets dark pop meets anthemic classical’, Simonne and The Dark Stars is a Brighton-based collective, fronted by classically trained pianist, lyricist and performer Simonne Weeks.
Formed in 2012, the band swiftly grew to become a firm fixture on the London and Sussex gig circuit, gaining notoriety not just for their dramatic songs and distinctive ‘fairy-tale-like’ stage presence, but also for the ‘poignant and flawless’ vocals of front woman Simonne.
Upon its release in 2013, debut EP ‘Love Like You Never’ was critically acclaimed as ‘haunting [and] elegant, with Sound and Motion magazine hailing Simonne as ‘one of the greatest female voices we've come across’. Extensive radio play for the EP, along with a number of NME-published videos, contributed to the band’s Brighton Music Awards nomination for Band of the Year.
In late 2013, having supported the likes of Polly Scattergood and Gallon Drunk, the band took a brief hiatus to focus on personal projects. As well as accepting a part-time lecturing post in the world of Biomedical Science for Brighton University, Simonne volunteered as communications director for the youbloom festival, providing a platform for promising unsigned artists.
It was through youbloom that Simonne teamed up with composer and producer Alex von Soos, co-writing and recording a number of new tracks. The collaboration has resulted in a sound that, whilst more electronic in nature, still retains the dark poetic atmosphere of the band’s earlier work. Simonne herself explains this evolution:
"Previously my work was more indefinable because of a cross pollination of influences that makes for an interesting outcome. One of my literary heroes, William S. Burroughs, popularised the’ cut-up’ technique, whereby a literary work is cut and rearranged to create a new text.
“My songwriting heroes David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke all used cut-ups to write lyrics. I adopt a similar practice by taking lines from my writings, influenced by film noir, the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anais Nin and Edgar Allen Poe, plus the poetry of Lorca.
“Working with Alex has taken this process of composing and song-writing to a new level, where I feel my new works now fit neatly next to the likes of my heroines in music, Florence and The Machine, Björk, Bat For Lashes, Amanda Palmer, Robyn, La Roux, Sia, Banks and St. Vincent.”
The result of this change in approach is a raw and confessional narrative, expressed through dreamlike ‘dark pop’ melodies, and brought to life by Simonne’s blisteringly powerful vocals. The first of these new tracks, the mesmeric ‘Drive a Nail’, is due to be released in February 2015.
The band itself has also evolved: as Simonne explains, “Simonne and The Dark Stars is no longer a finite group of musicians, but a community of creative minds.” Whilst the term ‘Dark Stars’ still naturally refers to the collective of musicians featuring on recorded tracks and at live performances, it has also expanded to include the ever-growing constellation of friends, fans and collaborators who orbit the band, offering creative and practical support.
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Excerpts from previous reviews
The driving force behind this band is singer/songwriter and classically trained pianist, Simonne Weeks, who steals the focus of attention with her presence, a PJ Harvey-esque voice and her large feathered hat. Simonne’s poignant and flawless vocals shine through and remind us of so many of the brilliant female singer songwriters of the past few decades
—Sound and Motion magazine
Weeks’s elegant vocals [are] simply out of this world and create an eerie sense of beat and motion. Her soothing yet eloquent vocals hit the high pitches on a perfect note. Be sure to check out this band for you will not forget them and will become obsessed with their crescendo vocals, piano tapping unison of mixed complicated feelings and emotions.
—Nicole Gabourie, Spindle magazine
Despite the tiny physical space she inhabits, [Simonne] manages to fill a far larger one with her presence and a smile that could break hearts from across the street. The sound she produces is equally noteworthy and disproportionate to her stature. Her voice clings to the dark spaces in the Brunswick, candles flicker as she unleashes notes that dip and dive like starlings swarming over the pier.
—We Love Brighton
Simonne Weeks' vocals were charming and absolutely delightful to listen to, perfectly complimented by her piano playing. Lyrically, love and hurt were the main themes and at times, we thought there were moments where the vocals gave a nod to PJ Harvey. Simonne & The Dark Stars brought us talent, eccentricity, fun and...they did it with style.
—The Gig Tree
Incredibly creative & gorgeously sumptuous!
—Pete Jones Show, Radio Reverb FM 92.7
It has an 80's power ballad vibe but definitely has a contemporary edge. The lyrics create a dark vision of spooky graveyards and gothic camp-ness. The thumping chorus with the driving piano is really uplifting and energetic.
—Award-winning musician Paul Diello
The song took me to a rusty old jetty jutting out in a lonely ocean, lament for love gone awry, trying to let go but gripping more tightly. Beautiful, haunting, epic. Highly acclaimed performer.
— writer and educator, Sunny