Northrop's Music on the Plaza 2019 concert series continues this week with a concert by Mae Simpson Music. We asked Mae Simpson about her start, which she explains below. Don’t miss this free concert starting at noon on Wed, Jul 17 on Northrop’s Plaza. It’s one of the many interesting #GopherSummer events on campus this summer.
In 2017 I had an idea: to make music. I had a background in rap and hiphop, but not a lot of people know that. I remember sitting in living room and was introduced to Rome, who would later become our percussionist, when his girlfriend then asked him if he would help me “get off the ground.” That was the start of Mae Simpson Music. After working together for a few months, I looked for a guitar player as my real skill was singing and writing.
Our guitarist Jorgen was looking for some casual playing, so we sat down and started writing songs. I didn’t realize then how big of an impact these events had on me. It was refreshing to be able to sit down with Jorgen and write really good music, and it made me want more. We started picking up small local three-piece shows where we would make the songs up on the spot. It was that easy, the vibe was just there. After a couple months, I took some time to think of what I really wanted, what I wanted the sound to be. It has always been in me to want to rock crowds, to make them feel alive, to lay my soul out to be seen, untangled; to connect with others and their own lives.
I had it! I knew what it was and how to create it: a big band with a huge sound. The search was on. I needed people who were going to see me for me, believe in the project and put the work in. I had Rome and Jorgen but wanted to add horns, bass, drums, percussion, guitar. I set up a
Craigslist ad and found saxophonist Keaton—he immediately left an impression—and trumpeter Paul.
Our very first show was at a yoga studio, it was a big sound in a small studio. It was awesome to put together our work and hear great feedback from friends and new fans. That night we got a gig at Turf Club, which was pretty cool considering we were winging it. This is where we met bassist David who claims, “I wasn’t even going to come to the show, (but) someone offered me free beer.” He came to the next practice and already had really creative ideas. We were set, ready to book shows thanks to my good friend and manager Bri Becker.
A little later we were recording our first EP, Feel It Comin’, which felt great. It was a life goal coming true and we worked really hard to make that happen. The EP-release concert was packed and we showcased more original songs. The band will have been together two years in October and already has been named City Pages’ Reader’s Choice for Best New Band as well as Battle of the Blues Bands winner.
We have worked very hard at this and put every ounce of us into it. We play often at one of our favorite venues, The Dakota, as well as many festivals. We released singles “Wrap Around” and “S.O.L.” and are getting spins on The Current and KFAI Radio.
From sitting in a room barely knowing how to strum a guitar to picking a talented group of people who believe as I do to chase a moment that we can share with a full crowd. Mae Simpson Music isn’t just a band: it’s you; it's me; it’s Bob down the road; it’s kids finding new music; it’s fans who show up at every show; it’s not being able to stop yourself from tapping your feet; it’s a smile; it’s a vulnerable place. Most of all it’s a connection.