Singer-Songwriter, Screenwriter, and Philanthropist Nicole Simone on Inspiration and Creativity: An Interview

Every artist knows just how hard it can be to capture a burst of creativity when it strikes. You might have a great idea for a song or a painting or a story but you just aren't able to mark it down or record it before the idea passes again, replaced by any number of small, daily concerns. 

It can be even more frustrating when new ideas seem to take days or weeks to come. But there are ways to get around this cycle of lost potential. 

Artist and philanthropist Nicole Simone is very careful about harnessing inspiration when it comes to her, and she's been able to apply that inspiration to all kinds of work, from her music (under the name Late July) to an original webseries titled On a List, to her philanthropic work with the charity she founded: Redemption Paws, which rescues vulnerable dogs and finds them forever homes.  

In our recent interview with Simone, we asked about how she overcomes various barriers to creativity and how to capture creative surges in the moment, as well as how to find inspiration when you feel like you're out of ideas. 

Go ahead and take a look at the full interview, below. 

Your work showcases such a range of creativity. Do you ever look back on your career to see how your work has evolved? 

Simone: I look back on my career and appreciate how I've grown as an artist and a storyteller.

Who are some of your most important musical influences?

Simone: My most important influences don't necessarily reflect my own personal sound but are more artists who inspire me to create. Tom Waits, Sparklehorse, Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley, and Elliott Smith were all central to my development as an artist.

Do you ever feel the need to force your creativity? Do you experience writer's block in any way? 

Simone: I don't believe in writer's block. We can always write. I think writer's block is more of a confidence thing. Not everything you do is going to be brilliant, but the more you do the better you get. The entrance price for success is embarrassment, so I always encourage myself to be as cringe as possible because that leads to my best work.

When you have a new idea for a song or a script, do you try to write it down or record it right away? 

Simone: I move with the feeling when I get it. I get excited and I get really obsessive over ideas. I wrote On A List in almost a week and then spent weeks editing it. It was really fun and I enjoyed that process. Songs just come out of nowhere. I wrote a new single the other day just on my phone memo app and sent it to my co-writer, and by dinner, the song had been fleshed out. When ideas hit you have to run with them.

late july nicole simone

How much time do you spend with a song idea before sharing it with a producer? 

Simone: It depends, sometimes I'll sit on songs for a really long time. Green Eyes and Heartbeat took years before I wanted to work on them. Other times I'll immediately start production on a song.

Do you think the different aspects of your daily life are represented in your music and filmmaking in some way? 

Simone: I consider myself an observer in a lot of ways. I wish my life was as exciting as the show or my music. I'm a very driven person which means I spend a lot of time working on the things I love. I take very small experiences and blow them up into art. I just wish I had more experiences to draw from by leading an exciting life. It's either one of the other!

As a listener, how often do you explore new music? 

Simone: Daily. I explore old and new music on the regular. I think it's vital as an artist to feed yourself just as much as you put out into the world.

Do you have any advice to share on how to stay creatively motivated? 

Simone: To stay creatively motivated go for long walks and write. My best ideas come from the five-mile walks I take with my dog, or failing that, a really long drive. Make stuff that you like, that reflects how you see the world.

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