Nicole Simone is a multi-talented artist and philanthropist. She creates and performs original music under the artist name Late July, she writes and directs her own scripts for Web series, and serves as the CEO of the Canadian foster-based dog charity Redemption Paws, which has helped rescue 3,000 dogs in just four years.
Not many people can manage that kind of resume, but Simone has proven throughout her career that with enough skill and a high level of commitment, success in multiple fields is more than possible.
From Simone’s point of view, working across these specializations seemed inevitable.
“When it comes to creating music and working with animals, these are just things that I always wanted to do, and these are things I’m always going to love doing. Filmmaking was a bit different. I was supposed to go to film school, but due to a variety of factors, that didn’t happen. But I love writing, directing, and producing. It’s all about creation and problem-solving. I love it.”
I was excited by the opportunity to talk to Simone about all of her projects, and we even managed to cover some broader topics, too, like her career philosophy, which has been a big part of her path to success.
So here’s the itinerary: I’m going to go through some of Simone/Late July’s recent singles and talk about the music she’s currently working on, then I’ll cover her original web series, On a List, and then take a look at Simone’s charity work with Redemption Paws. Let’s get things started.
New singles showcase a musical shift
Ok, so Late July has been releasing indie pop and orchestral pop since 2010 with her debut EP, Side Swept.
Two of the singles from that EP were later featured in the web series Out with Dad. Her track “Truth or Dare” from her third EP, When the Curtain Falls, made it into the soundtrack of the indie film How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town.
Through 2021, Simone released a slew of heartfelt singles, including “Green Eyes,” “Heartbeat,” “Waves,” and “Silver Tongues,” all of which you can check out on Spotify, Apple Music, and other music streaming platforms right now.
These tracks seemed to signal a departure from some of Simone’s earlier work, and I would also argue that they serve as a transition into her more recent work.
Here’s what Simone had to say about these songs.
“These were a huge shift from my previous sounds. I was definitely playing out more and just embracing the elements of music I really loved. It was an incredibly dark period in my life. I was clinging to the songs to create a new life, and they did. I’m grateful for working with Guillermo Sabauste who helped me get my vision recorded.”
For her 2021 tracks, Simone started working with producer and songwriter Jessica Taylor in Los Angeles.
“I spent a lot of time co-writing in LA this past fall with Jessica Taylor. Some new songs and some songs I just wanted to finish. That was a great experience. At the end of the day, I’d just drive to Studio City from Beverly Hills and listen to the demos and work on them.”
Currently, Simone is in the midst of working on brand new music with producer John Agnello, who has produced for tons of major bands and solo artists, including Alvvays, Kurt Vile, and Dinosaur Jr., just to name a few.
“Agnello and I have been trying to work together for years, and now it’s finally happened. The EP is called Redhaired Girls, after the title track. We break ground this March on it, and I’m hoping to get some label interest and management. Hopefully I’ll get to play some live shows as well. I really miss that.”
On a List
Next up on the list is, well, On a List, an original web series about two young people who have a very specific plan for how to grow closer: they create a list of the most difficult moments that couples typically experience and challenge each other to work through it all.
This series went into production right on the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic, which presented the team with some serious challenges.
For obvious reasons, this unfortunate timing required some last-minute pivots, which in turn meant that Simone would need to cover as many bases as possible, both in front of and behind the camera.
“I realized that the key players I had lined up were not going to work out, given the global circumstances we were all facing, so I just did it myself. It was really exciting to just try something new.”
Simone ended up starring in the series, on top of writing, producing, and co-directing the show. It was a challenge, but having that level of creative control over the project kept the series vision clear and focused.
At the center of it all was this concept of a couple trying to skip past the honeymoon stage of a relationship in order to force themselves to confront each other’s most difficult traits.
“I love the idea of loving people at their worst. It’s like the opposite of wearing rose-colored glasses. If you can love someone at their worst, the rest should be a piece of cake. At least that’s what these characters thought at the start.”
The series borrows elements from the rom-com genre, but I would argue that it often feels more thoughtful than many movies and shows that fit into that category.
The performances and production value are impressive as well, especially when you consider the conditions under which the show was produced.
There are no plans to continue On a List at the moment, but I have my fingers crossed that the series will resurface sooner rather than later.
Working in charity: Redemption Paws
Of course, running a charity requires a completely different set of skills from music creation and filmmaking, but Simone has always been passionate about finding ways to help animals in need. It’s that passion that led to the founding of Redemption Paws, a Canadian charity that rescues and transports abandoned dogs in West Texas.
These are dogs that are simply not being cared for in the area where they live. They’ve been abandoned or never had homes to begin with, and local animal charities are overwhelmed by the number of dogs in need.
After volunteering with animal charities for years, Simone saw an opportunity to bring these unwanted dogs to Canada, where there are many people willing to foster and adopt these pups.
Redemption Paws has been operating since 2017, and Simone remains the founder and CEO, coordinating the charity’s logistics and funding.
Simone is really thankful that she and the Redemption Paws team have been able to help so many dogs, with the help of caring people in both Texas and Canada.
“It’s strange to think these lovable dogs are discarded and left to die in their home state, yet people in Toronto spoil them rotten. 3,000 dogs in four years is a lot of dogs to rescue. I hope in the big picture we’re making an impact. I’m so proud of my team and our Texas partners.”
It’s a huge task, but Redemption Paws has earned an impressive reputation, and the organization certainly stands as one of the most laudable and fascinating aspects of Simone’s career.
A philosophy of work ethic
Where all this work truly comes together is in Simone’s consistent motivation and the philosophy that has helped her find success not only in music, but in independent filmmaking and charity work as well.
To sum up this philosophy, Simone doesn’t expect anything to come to her. Instead, she subscribes to the idea that absolutely everything you want needs to be earned through hard work.
Persistence combined with skill creates something worth being proud of, or, in Simone’s case, many projects to be proud of.
“My professional philosophy is to show up every day in whatever way you can. So much of success is just being in the habit of doing the things you love every day. So whether it’s social media or just hammering away on the piano, I’m always doing something because it feels good.”
So far, Simone’s career has been defined by this strong work ethic, and it also makes it exciting to look forward to her future work.
Special thanks go to Nicole Simone for agreeing to an interview, and if you’d like to learn more about Simone’s work, please visit the links included throughout the article.