The London Word caught up with jazz singer and songwriter Kaz Simmons at the Royal Festival Hall for a cosy chat about her favourite view of the London skyline, the best kept secret in Greenwich, and a rare performance on an Essex farm.
Her fourth album, Signs, released in April 2013, encompasses the jazz sound she is known for alongside the use of an electric guitar. The combination of her quirky melodies and sometimes satirical musings on life in London have no doubt contributed to the popularity and acclaim of Signs. She played a sold-out show at the Green Note Jazz Festival on November 15.
Who are your top three influences?
‘On Signs my sound has definitely evolved since Take Me Home [her first album, released in 2005]. There’s a 1970s feel to it. I was heavily influenced by early Genesis, especially Peter Gabriel. I’m also a huge fan of Rufus Wainwright and The Divine Comedy.’
What do you think makes a successful gig?
‘If the audience smile and laugh at my jokes!’
What is it about London that inspires you?
‘Staying In, track six on Signs, is actually inspired by the internet dating scene in London! Like many Londoners, I have a love/ hate relationship with the city. After listening to Danny Baker on BBC London talking about the MPs expenses scandal, I had to write about it! On the positive side, you can’t beat the view of the London skyline from Greenwich Park. The south side is my favourite.’
Where is the most obscure place you’ve played at in London?
‘It wasn’t in London, but when I was a student [Kaz completed her first music degree at Goldsmiths] I played in a pet shop on a farm in Essex!’
And the place you liked playing best at?
‘There are so many great music venues in London. Oliver’s in Greenwich, Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho, and Green Note [where Kaz played as part of the London Jazz Festival on November 15] are amazing!’
Tell us a secret about London…
‘Part of my video for For the Love of the Big L track four on Signs was filmed at East Greenwich Pleasaunce. It’s a small, tranquil park with a naval cemetery. There are over 3000 graves.’
If everything in London was free for a day, where would you go?
‘To all of London’s best gardens! I’d want to have a snoop around the gardens at Buckingham Palace. Then I’d go on the Thames Clipper or the London Eye, before going to see a classic musical. I love West Side Story and The Sound of Music.’
Signs is available now as a CD and download.