Sterling Simms Interview
|Next Project:||Yours, Mine, and the Truth (December 9)|
|Twitter:||Sterling Simms on Twitter|
|Website:||Sterling Simms's Website|
Due to the increasingly common phenomenon of formerly behind-the-scenes musical talent becoming full-fledged solo artists, listeners are becoming more and more aware of the individuals who masterminded past hits. Take Sterling Simms, for example; though you may know him best as a featured artist on the great J. Hova‘s “Dig a Hole,” he and his creative clique, the Knightwritaz, have done production and songwriting work for the high-profile likes of Jennifer Lopez and Chris Brown.
Now ready to realize his long-held ambition to step into the spotlight in his own right, Simms is gearing up for the December 9th release of his debut, Yours, Mine, and the Truth. The LP, which follows the singer-songwriter through the various stages and shifting perspectives that make up the story of a romantic relationship, finds Sterling exercising his ability to craft R&B hits that will resonate with audiences everywhere, as exemplified by his Jadakiss and Dream-featuring current single, “All I Need.”
In an exclusive interview with our very own DJ “Z,” Sterling Simms steps into the Booth to discuss the importance of the team approach in music-making, what it really takes to be one of the Knightwritaz, and why everyone should be able to relate to the story he tells on Yours, Mine, and the Truth.
Listen to the Interview
Sterling Simms Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Def Jam recording artist who has revealed “All [He] Needs,” on his brand new single. Gearing up to release his debut album, Yours, Mine, and the Truth on December the 9th, please welcome Sterling Simms – how you doin’?
Sterling Simms: Yeah, yeah. I’m good, Z – what’s poppin’?
DJ Booth: I don’t have a release coming out December 9th, but I know that you do, so I’ll be excited for you – how does that sound?
Sterling Simms: I appreciate it, man. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m happy to be here. Yours, Mine, and the Truth will be in stores December 9th; I’m hyped.
DJ Booth: You sound like it. Sterling, your first blip on many a listener’s radar was your feature work with Jay-Z on “Dig a Hole,” so, I’m curious – how many times have you had to introduce yourself as that guy?
Sterling Simms: Ah, man… if I got a dollar for every time I did that, a recession wouldn’t be applied to me. [laughs] But, you know, it was a blessing. I take everything that comes with it. Not many people really get a chance to work with Jay, and at the stage of my career that I was at that point in time, it was definitely a blessing. I’m glad he opened the door for me.
DJ Booth: Sterling, how difficult is if to craft an identity for yourself in this diluted music market?
Sterling Simms: It’s pretty hard, but I just stay true to myself and be the artist that I can be, and be the best Sterling Simms that I can be. It’s definitely hard, you got a lot of different talent out there, but I think what sets me apart is, I write a lot of my material. I like to think of this album as autobiographical; that’s how I got the name for the album, Yours, Mine, and the Truth – it was based off my relationship with a young lady, and we’re not in a relationship anymore, so it’s my version of what happened, it’s her version of what happened, and then it’s the truth.
DJ Booth: Okay, so what’s your version?
Sterling Simms: You have to listen to the album. [laughs] It’ll be in stores December 9th. It starts out with, you know, “All I really need is a good woman in my life.” I definitely have another record called “Single,” on the album, that explains how I was feeling during times when things weren’t so good. When you’re in a relationship, you’ve got to cater to two people: you’ve gotta cater to yourself as well as the person that you’re with. A lot of times, when you’re single, you don’t have to do that. And then I have another record called “Best Friend,” that really hits home on what really happened, in my eyes. It’s a record about my young lady, she had a baby by my best friend. But there’s other records that lead up to that point, so you’ve got to listen to the album to really get the gist of everything that went on with the relationship.
DJ Booth: So, all these relationship-based songs, are these all the result of one female, or multiple girls that you’ve dated over your 26 years of living?
Sterling Simms: This would be off one girl, and then we weren’t together anymore, so it left me dating other people, so you’ll get a feel for all of that.
DJ Booth: Sterling, the debut was originally supposed to be out Spring 2007, and was originally titled Worth Your While. The title has changed, the release date has changed; explain the reasoning for both decisions.
Sterling Simms: Well, I wanted to work hard on this album, I didn’t wanna rush it out. I think last year, when I submitted my record, I think it was a rushed project. What we did was we kinda changed the direction over the past year. I went in and cut a couple more records, I went in with Tricky and Dream, I went in with Soundz, I went back in with my people, the Knightwritaz, and we came up with a beautiful album. So I kinda wanted to just take my time with it. There’s no rush with it. I’ve been doin’ this since I was 12 years old, so I wanted to go in and put together an album that best reflected what I do. That’s how we got this album that we have now.
DJ Booth: Why is it that you felt rushed during the process? Was it someone in particular, or just the entire thing?
Sterling Simms: It was just the entire thing. You know, a lot of times you get caught up in this business, and it runs a millions miles an hour, so I just wanted to take my time and take a breather, and fall back a minute. Def Jam decided to do the same thing, so we just wanted to take our time with the project, and give the audience and the fans our best effort.
DJ Booth: What do you think would have happened if they’d decided to put the album out, and you didn’t have time to go back in and rework it?
Sterling Simms: I don’t like to go into the would’ves and could’ves; I like to just focus on the future. I probably could’ve put the album out last year, and we probably could’ve had mild success, but I don’t wanna have mild success, I wanna have a very successful album, and something I can be proud of, and something I can be excited about. I was excited last year, but I’m so hyped and so ready to share it’s not funny, man. I’m ready to take the world by storm.
DJ Booth: You’re definitely at a new level of excitement; I can hear it in your voice. It seems as though, over the past year, I’ve seen about a billion of your songs leaked to the net. Is anything that has leaked going to make the final cut, or is this album filled with only brand new material?
Sterling Simms: Well, there are some records that did leak that are on this album. You know, I’m a writer as well, so I’ve written and submitted a lot of material for different artists and different projects that are coming out. A lot of material that leaked over the past year has been the songs that I’ve been writing for other people. I have 13 songs on this album, and there’s still a good nine songs that the public hasn’t heard. The bulk of the material’s going to be new material from me. I hope everybody’s excited about it.
DJ Booth: Since the single is, “All I Need,” let’s focus on just that. Sterling, what do you need from here on out, to ensure that your career as a solo artist is nothing but success?
Sterling Simms: To have a successful career, it’s all about your team. You can’t win a game by yourself; in this game, you have to have a strong team behind you. I’m confident in the team that I have, from management to label to just the people I have around in my inner circle. They keep me grounded and they keep me humble, so if I can keep my team that I have now from here on out, we can win.
DJ Booth: Are you confident in your baseball team? Do the Phillies have a shot to beat the Tampa Bay Rays?
Sterling Simms: Oh, for sure, man. We’re in the World Series, we’re gonna take it to Tampa Bay. [laughs] ‘08 is turnin’ out to be a great year; the Phillies are in the World Series, my album is comin’ out, so we’re about to do big things, man.
DJ Booth: Yeah, a lot to be excited about. You mentioned your team, so let’s focus on your team, the Knightwritaz. You and Mario, who’s joined me countless times inside the DJ Booth, started this creative songwriting and production clique. You got Cassidy, Marsha, a [whole] collection of talent. Are you guys exclusive? Do I have any chance of being a part of this team?
Sterling Simms: Come on, let’s do it! [laughs]
DJ Booth: What skills do I need to possess, in order to be included?
Sterling Simms: It’s really just a personality, and a lifestyle. This clique, aside from what we do, we just all get along, we all like to hang out, so it’s just one big family. We invite anybody to join the family, as long as you’re with the team.
DJ Booth: Okay, let’s continue on this hypothetical train. If you could select anyone in the industry – songwriter, producer, artist – to add to the Knightwritaz, who would you choose, and why?
Sterling Simms: Man, Jay-Z. [laughs] It speaks for itself.
DJ Booth: No reason why, just sign him on up!
Sterling Simms: Sign him on up! We know his résumé, we know what it is, so sign him on up – let’s do it. But, realistically speaking, there’s a lot of different people out there that I’d love to work with.
DJ Booth: Well, after the release of this album, I’m sure you will get that opportunity. Sterling, why is it worth your listeners’ while – no pun intended – to pick up a copy of Yours, Mine, and the Truth, when it drops this December?
Sterling Simms: Well, one, you’re going to get a sense of what I’ve been going through in the past couple of years, in my life and my relationships, and two, I think it’s something everyone can relate to. This album is just really based off of relationships, whether it be a relationship to your street, your relationship with your significant other, your relationship with your parents – it’s just all about relationships. Like, when people listen to “Best Friends,” they’re gonna be like, “I went through that before.” When people listen to a song like “Single,” they’re gonna be like, “Yo, I felt that way before.” When they hear “All I Need,” my single with Dream and Jadakiss, some man out there is gonna be like, “Yo, I really feel that way right now.” So I think it’s gonna be something that’s worth your while; go get it, December 9th it’s in stores, and I’m hyped – let’s do it!
DJ Booth: Sterling, give everyone a website, or a MySpace page, so they can find out more.
Sterling Simms: You can definitely get me at defjam.com, I’m on there. You can also reach me at myspace.com/sterlingsimms. And yes, it is really me that answers and replies to all my messages. I’m gonna accept your friend requests and all that, so don’t be shy, ‘cause I’m not – let’s do it!
DJ Booth: I remember reading a blog of yours stating that there was a bunch of fake Sterling Simms MySpace pages out there – what’s up with that?
Sterling Simms: The Internet is crazy, man. Some of the pages I do appreciate, some of the Sterling Simms pages that are out there are really just fans that are trying to help support my vision and my dream, but there’s also a couple of haters out there that just create these fake sites, and they go on and try to pose as you. I try to stay clear of all that, and I had to clear the air and let people know it wasn’t me.
DJ Booth: Well, I’ll tell you what. I’ve always said this: if people are hatin’ on you, you must be pretty special.
Sterling Simms: Yeah. If people are talking about you, that means you’re doing something right.
DJ Booth: Exactly. Sterling, I wish you nothing but the best of luck, and again, thank you so much for taking the time to join me inside of the DJ Booth.
Sterling Simms: Z, I appreciate you having me, dawg – take care!