VIP meets musician Simon James: “My career started when I was six but I’m happy to be where I am now”

Simon James is no stranger to the world of show business. He cut his teeth in the world at the tender age of six alongside Cate Blanchett in Veronica Guerin.

However, by the time he hit his teen years he realised that the silver screen wasn’t for him. Instead, he discovered his love for music.

Now at the age of 27, he has released his single, aptly named 27.

VIP Magazine caught up with Simon following the single hitting the airwaves.

Hi Simon, are you in the Christmas spirit?

Oh yes. The minute the Starbucks Christmas cups come out that’s it, I’m in it. I turn on as many Christmas movies as I can as soon as possible.

You’re not even 30 and you’ve already had a lengthy career. Tell us about that.

It’s funny, my career in terms of acting started when I was six. I started singing when I was three and I joined the Billy Barry Stage School when I was five. I was always into singing, dancing, acting and that sort of thing. I landed a role in the Veronica Guerin film, playing her son Cathal when I was six. I was so young, even the audition for that wasn’t a real script thing. I was only a baby, I had a conversation with the director, Joel Schumacher to see if I was right for the role. Off the back of that, I got a role in Fair City. I was in there for five years. I did a couple of short films, one of them was called New Boy, which was Oscar-nominated. It was based on a short story by Roddy Doyle that looked at bullying and racism in inner-city Dublin. All of this happened and everything was going really well.

When did singing come into your life?

I always loved singing but when I was a teenager I really started singing, I taught myself how to play the guitar and I did some keyboard lessons. I was watching people like Justin Bieber, we’re of a similar age, and I watched his climb to fame. And I was like if he’s doing it why can’t I? So I started pursuing music. Music took over solely. I couldn’t wait to get out of school, even though I enjoyed it! I went to BIMM in Dublin where I got my degree in songwriting and that was the final step. In the midst of that, I’ve been networking, writing with other producers and getting as much out there as possible.

When you were filming Veronica Guerin, did you have any concept of what that film was?

It was so bizarre and I was so young I don’t think I could fully appreciate it. It wasn’t until when I got older that I realised. They show it on RTÉ at least once or twice a year. My friends always text me to let me know I’m on the telly. It’s a whirlwind. I was watching a Lord of the Rings film recently and I was like there’s Cate Blanchett, I was working with her on a daily basis for a couple of months. And Brenda Fricker and Colin Farrell. It was definitely only in recent years that I realised it was a lot to be going at a young age.

You mentioned Justin Bieber earlier, but are you glad you are didn’t achieve global stardom as a child?

I think so. If you had asked me that question when I was 13 I would have said that I wanted to be the biggest pop star in the world. In reality, I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason. No matter how cheesy that sounds. What’s for you, won’t go by you. It took me years to hone in on my craft. I wouldn’t have been ready for the world to see me at that point. I also have a more level head and a clearer vision of what I want.

The Irish music scene is filled with incredible talent, do you feel honoured to be a part of that?

Absolutely. It scares me, I have big boots to fill. You look at everyone from U2 to Niall Horan and these amazing artists on the climb. To see them doing so well, that’s where I want to be. One of my first concert memories is seeing The Script. And since then it’s been a huge goal of mine to sell out The Olympia.

You mentioned a lot of Irish musicians there, but who are your musical inspirations?

It changes all the time, I am a huge fan of John Mayer, Justin Bieber and Dermot Kennedy. But I’ve taken inspiration from Post Malone, John Legend and Harry Styles. So it’s very varied.

You write your own music, is it nerve-wracking putting it out into the world for other’s to listen to? It’s like they’re reading your diary.

It’s very vulnerable. It’s therapeutic at the same time. You are putting yourself out there. But what I love about music is that songs are interpreted differently by every individual person. While I might have one personal experience with this song, I think you can lyrically be quite clever, so you never figure out what that is really about. But you should be able to talk about what you want to talk about, whether that be mental health or whatever it is. It’s important that you can stand behind it and be proud of what you wanted to say.

What comes next for you?

I have a big catalogue of music and an awful lot more songs that I want to write. The main goal is to keep releasing and putting an album together. I think I’m a few singles away from that, but we’re getting there. I have so much music there that I’m finally ready to push out there.

One last question before we let you go, what advice would you give teenage Simon?

That’s a tough question. I would say follow your gut. Even if something doesn’t work out, just remember you love it and keep going with it.

27 by Simon James is available on all streaming platforms now

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