Verse Simmonds is a singer, songwriter and music producer who grew up in the Virgin Islands. He has written Grammy-nominated songs for Kanye West, Jay-Z and Chris Brown, with a vast writing portfolio for countless other artists. Simmonds has released a compilation of mixtapes, and is currently recording an EP that is soon to drop. Make sure to check out his latest single “All I want” featuring Jeremih.
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Mike O’Keefe: Growing up in the Virgin Islands, what would you suggest a first-time visitor to see?
Verse Simmonds: You should probably go to Magen’s Bay [on St. Thomas], Coki Point as well. There are a lot of beautiful beaches out there, but a lot of tourists, especially if you go to the cruises. You can hangout for the day at Coki Point, it actually has an underwater sea aquarium you can go to — pretty cool.
Photo courtesy | Michela Chemello
MO: I haven’t been to the Virgin Islands, but love the Caribbean. Describe how the Virgin Islands differentiates from other islands in the region.
VS: I can’t say that I’m the best traveler. I haven’t been to a lot of islands, but I do know that because of the Virgin Islands and St. Thomas, specifically where I’m from is more of a [unincorporated United States] territory. We have a lot of that influence in our home, which a lot of other islands don’t have.
MO: Have you been able to do any traveling in the U.S. and see different cities out here?
VS: Yeah, the U.S. definitely. I also grew up partially in Florida, I’m a resident there and have family there. I’ve lived in [Los Angeles], and have seen a lot of different cities when on tour as well.
Photo courtesy | Justin Vidamo
MO: If it’s a warm place with sun, that’s perfect to me.
VS: Absolutely. I can definitely agree with that.
MO: What sparked your interest in music?
VS: It’s just something I’ve always had you know? It’s not really something that I decided to do, it’s just something that came naturally to me. I was always interested in music and how people put songs together. It was something I was born to do.
MO: What was the first album you purchased?
VS: Man, first album I purchased was Snoop Dogg’s first album. I was a kid, and that was definitely something I wanted to hear. That was the first album I purchased.
MO: When visiting a destination what does it mean to you to get past the touristy side and connect with the locals?
VS: It’s important, because it gives you that authentic feel for where you’re at. You can get the culture everywhere you’re at. It’s always a good thing.
MO: To get that feeling of a culture is something you can bring back and remember forever. How does music and travel fit together?
VS: There’s no travel without music. To get where I want to go you need to make an album. When you are traveling you get to hear a lot of different kinds of music. It influences you more, you know? You may get influenced, not even know it and use it later down the line. You always find something.
MO: Awesome. When visiting a new city, what is the first thing you try to do?
VS: Eat. First thing I try to do is eat. When we go to any city, we want to see what the food is like — their flavor.
MO: When hearing the word vacation, what’s the first destination that comes to mind?
VS: Even though it’s where I’m from, vacation at home is still the best. I have been to Dubai; it’s beautiful — a lot going on. I went out to the clubs and had a performance out there. It was a good time.
Photo courtesy | The Dead Pixel
MO: Name a place you have been to, and will return to. What was it that stood out?
VS: I went on a trip to Lebanon one time. I think that it sounds crazy, but I had such a great time there. I would probably want to go back. There were bullet holes in the walls — not even bullet holes — there were craters in the buildings’ walls from some kind of uproar. Had a lot of fun there. Went out to the club, turned up — everyone had a good time.
MO: If you could record or perform anywhere in the world, where would it be?
VS: That’s a hard question — Japan. I like the image of the culture. They are forward on fashion and technology. It just seems like such a great place.
MO: Do you have any shows, tours or trips planned?
VS: I will probably go to Canada for the OVO Fest, in August. Other than that, right now I’m currently residing in L.A. for the summer. So I’m just out here recording, writing and supporting other artists. I’m releasing my project towards the end of the year as well. Not sure of the release date yet though.
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For more on Simmonds visit his website: