Matt Simons’ next album Identity crisis reflects both his personal values and his versatile musical style. In the six singles released from the album so far, Simons holds nothing back. He delves into his struggles with mental health and panic attacks, while delivering a message of hope to listeners. Identity crisis features a wide range of styles, from catchy pop tunes to gripping memories of Simons’ darkest times. The full ten-song album is set to be released on May 6, 2022.
In an interview with American Songwriter, Simons talks about the creative process identity crisis, and why the deeply personal project was so special to him.
mental health in music
In Identity crisis, the “Catch and Release” singer shares more of himself than ever, and his honesty shines through in every track. While Simons’ first three studio albums were praised for her lyricism and ability to address a wide range of emotions, not all of the songs were about her own life. After releasing his last album, After the landslide, in 2019, Simons knew he was ready to put more of his own perspective into his music.
“A lot of times I’ve written from a storyteller’s perspective and not necessarily included my own experiences,” he told American Songwriter. “I wanted to talk about my own mental health issues and dig a little deeper into that area of my life.”
Several of the songs on Identity crisis takes the listener through the Simons’ mental and emotional journey with anxiety. “Identity Crisis” is about losing who you are and hitting rock bottom. “Self-control” is learning to take care of yourself and doing what’s best for your mental health, even when it’s hard. In “Better Tomorrow,” Simons shares tips he uses to overcome panic attacks.
Through these songs, he hopes to show listeners how ugly these mental battles can be, but also that it is possible to get out of them.
Each track is drawn from Simons’ own experiences, and his honesty can be painful at times. One of the songs that best demonstrates this is “Better Tomorrow”. Simons wrote the song in 2016, but never felt like it was the right time to release it – until Identity crisis.
“It’s definitely the oldest song on the album. I just knew the production was never good, and I didn’t know where to include it. I even sent it to a few DJs to get remixed and it never really sounded good, so it kind of just sat there,” he confesses.
Even when he was convinced the song was ready, his label was hesitant to include “Better Tomorrow” on the album. They thought the hook: You’ll feel better tomorrow / Even though I know you think you’re gonna diewas too “on the nose”.
“My label found the lyrics a bit too harsh,” he explains. “I tried a few other versions and tried changing it, but it didn’t work the same.”
Wanting to be as truthful as possible, Simons kept the line as he originally wrote it. “That’s how I feel when I have a panic attack,” he says. “You really don’t think you’re going to make it. So it’s the process of remembering, ‘I’ve done this before. I felt this feeling. And I’ll feel better tomorrow.
Although the album is deeply rooted in Simons’ lived experiences, he co-wrote each song with producers and other songwriters. Since Identity crisis is so focused on mental health issues that he wanted to make sure the songs would still be relevant and resonate with listeners.
“It’s great to have multiple brains in the room working on a concept,” he says. “It also gives them space to talk about their own struggles and the things I’m going through. Having this collaboration elevates the songs a lot.
Simons also loves the co-writing process as it allows her to build the music and lyrics at the same time. His songwriting process usually involves him and a producer figuring out “what melodies will work for certain words”.
“It works best when you do music and lyrics at the same time,” he says. “They are so bonded. Some words will sound good with certain chords and melodies, and some won’t. Having someone else in the room to bounce ideas around makes the process much smoother.
Musical identity crisis
Simons chose the title Identity crisis partly because that’s exactly how he describes his music. Although his songs generally fall under pop, he does not have a particular “sound” he is aiming for. The same goes for his albums – rather than trying to define a theme or a guideline, Simons showcases his versatility.
“The way I make albums is almost like a collection of songs I’ve written over the last few years. I don’t have a sound that I want to get out of every album,” he says. , but hopefully it makes up for it in variety. I call him Identity crisis because it’s like, ‘What’s my music?’ It’s an identity crisis.
He notes that this is particularly evident on the next album, hence the title. The lack of cohesion is partly due to the pandemic. Since he was unable to attend writing sessions during peak Covid times, it was difficult to create new music. “I feel like [Identity Crisis] a little less organized than some of the others because there was a hiatus of at least a year where I couldn’t write at all,” he says.
After five years of writing and editing the album, Simons is more than ready to unveil it to the world. “It took about five years to write everything, which is crazy. I mean the last two years didn’t exist, so it’s a lot less than that,” laughs Simons.
To listen Identity crisis
Simons used a cascading release schedule to Identity crisis. Luckily for fans, six of the ten songs are already available on streaming platforms. The full album will be available on May 6, 2022, but in the meantime, listen to his latest singles HERE.
As his most vulnerable work to date, these songs have already resonated deeply with listeners. “Identity Crisis” has reached over one million streams on Spotify, and “Too Much” has over two million.
“I’m very lucky to have a personal connection with a lot of fans,” says Simons. “I got a lot of traction, especially with the songs that focus more on mental health like ‘Better Tomorrow’ and ‘Identity Crisis,’ where that’s exactly what people needed to hear at that time. As a songwriter, you like to hear that.
Simons will also be touring the US and Europe from May through September, so buy tickets to see his shows live HERE.
Photo by Anna Azarov