Simon Collins has been grappling with heady subjects while writing his new album. He can spend hours discussing astronomy, cosmology and quantum physics, while he also loves a good conspiracy theory. However, the rollercoaster that we all face as we become human is its central focus, and it is ultimately a conversation about surrender, renewal, uplift and and mortality. Not surprisingly, the album is entitled ‘Becoming Human’.
“I have spent a long time thinking about this theme. Even the production itself was a micro life cycle,” explains Collins. “There is a school of thought that believes humans become spiritual, but I think it’s the other way around. To me, we are spiritual beings who are learning to become human. Are we a way for the universe to know itself, or is the universe a way for us to know ourselves? I suppose you could make sense of it either way, but the two mean something different.”
Collins paints with a range of emotional colours on ‘Becoming Human’. “I’m proud of these new songs,” he states. “They reflect the person I am, the person I’m becoming, the person I’m striving to be. Writing songs on ‘becoming’, not just ‘being’, is a powerful tool and it’s about evolving in time and space. The music is generous, intimate, openhearted. There is a lot of me living in these songs. They are deeply personal for me or anyone listening to them who has been through experiences of fear, love and hope. The joy of freedom, of acceptance and forgivingness. Of figuring out who I am or anyone is, and how we relate to the world. What is really going on? What is the truth behind the truth?” He also notes that “maturing as an artist and human being has enabled me to find my own voice and confident musical direction.”
As the son of Phil Collins of Genesis, Simon naturally gravitated towards the drums as a child and notes that “it’s part of my musical DNA.” As a teenager, he also became proficient on guitar and piano, which is how he usually writes. As children of famous parents often do, he has grappled with core questions about the meaning of success and failure. It took time for him to create his own identity through his music, and he now looks out onto a wide scope of opportunity he has created for himself through much hard work and dedication. “I have always tried to leave my songs and videos open to interpretation, but this record is clearly about my own path and journey in the pursuit of happiness. I’m free to climb out of that spacesuit. Lighter. Freer. I need to push things forward and push the boundaries of being human.”
Collins has also been extremely patient about the process of renewal. “It has given me time to untangle the complicated arc of my emotional life. I’ve known some tumultuous times. So I’ve had to do a lot of digging and healing. In that way, the writing process for ‘Becoming Human’ was extremely therapeutic.” Of the record itself, he continues: “This body of work reflects a deep, wild existential journey and sonic evolution. The soundscape explores a progressive fusion of electronic and rock influences, a cross-pollination of genres melding space atmospheres and ambient moods with progressive pop songcraft, creating a futuristic progressive sounding album.”
Guest musicians on ‘Becoming Human’ include original Sound Of Contact guitarist Kelly Avril Nordstrom, bassist Gaz Williams and guitarist Robin Boult, who also brought his bespoke keyboard and sound design to the mix. Collins also plays some keyboards, along with drums and all the vocals. “Robbie and I collaborated on many of the songs, while the album also features co-writes with Dave Kerzner and Kelly Avril Nordstrom on songs I initially brought to the mountain of material earmarked for the second Sound of Contact album.”
‘Becoming Human’ will be the fourth solo album release by Collins, following his 2000 debut ‘All of Who You Are’, ‘Time For Truth’ (2005), and ‘U-Catastrophe’ (2008). In 2010, he co-founded the critically acclaimed band Sound of Contact. Featuring himself on lead vocals and drums, the rest of the band included keyboardist/co-producer Dave Kerzner, guitarist Kelly Nordstrom, and bassist Matt Dorsey. The band received the Limelight Award (essentially Best New Band) at the Progressive Music Awards in 2013, with their debut album, ‘Dimensionaut’, being the fastest selling debut album by any band in the 20 year history of leading progressive rock label Inside Out Music.
With ‘Becoming Human’ under his belt, an album based on the many aspects of the human condition, there is a hint of transformation through storytelling, a glimpse of evolving consciousness. “My own,” concludes Collins.