March 2021

Simon Kaviani: Gimme some sunshine

Simon Kaviani

With all of his gigs cancelled in March 2020, musician Simon Kaviani’s (Latin 2002) mental health took a turn for the worse, but therapy helped him to focus on creating new music. Now, almost a year on, he has teamed up with mental health charity SANE to release a single. By sharing his story, Simon hopes to generate awareness of the support available to others who may be struggling.

“The day I’m back in a busy bar and my favourite song starts playing… it’s going to be a magical moment.”

Simon Kaviani (Latin 2002)

Simon Kaviani has experienced first-hand the impact events from the last year can have on mental health. With all of his gigs cancelled as the UK went into its first lockdown in March 2020, he fell into some bad habits, and couldn’t see a way forward.

“I was using alcohol to numb myself to the situation,” says Simon. “As a musician, I didn’t realise how much my sense of self-worth was linked to gigging, until all of that work dried up. With so much uncertainty and no end in sight, I lost all of my motivation and ended up in a pretty bad place.”

Originally from Sheffield, Simon always wanted to be a musician. He came to Leeds to study Latin, but admits he was more interested in the music scene than studying for his exams. Instead of pouring over books in the library, time outside lectures was spent playing gigs, writing songs and practicing his music.

He returned to Sheffield after graduation to care for his grandmother, before moving to London after she passed away. Since then, Simon has led a successful career as a session guitarist, touring the UK and Europe with the likes of Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow; Deep Purple), Eric Martin (Mr Big) and Damon Johnson (Black star riders). Now, still based in London, Simon was looking forward to a summer of gigging in the capital’s music venues before the pandemic changed his plans.

Simon Kaviani playing guitar with two others

Recognising that his mental health was suffering during the first lockdown, Simon sought out support in the form of therapy. It gave him the tools to understand how he was feeling, and helped him to refocus on his passion for music.

“Therapy changed my life. This third lockdown has been difficult for everyone in England, but for me it’s actually been much more positive than the others. Accessing support helped me to find ways to deal with the situation, and I’m now in a much better place.”

Towards the end of 2020, and feeling more hopeful about the future, Simon began working on his music again. He started looking back at old notes and recordings, and came across an idea which seemed particularly poignant in light of the ongoing pandemic.

“It was a song which started years ago with my friend Aaron Shanley, but looking at it again after all that time – it resonated with me. The lyrics we’d come up with were ‘gimme some sunshine’, and it just seemed to capture this current moment and how we’ve all been feeling as we look to brighter days ahead.”

After meeting with fellow songwriter Kris Fredriksson, the song started to come together. Simon started thinking about how he could use the song to help those who, like himself, have been struggling with their mental health. He contacted SANE - a leading UK mental health charity which aims to raise awareness, provide support, and promote research into mental ill-health, and decided to release the song to help raise funds and awareness for SANE.

“I wanted to spread a little cheer to people finding it tough right now, and I hope this song can do that,” said Simon. “It’s also really important to me to raise awareness of the support available for people who are struggling. The pandemic has really brought the topic of mental health to the table, but it’s still often misunderstood. When you’re in that bad place, it can be really daunting to admit you need help, and you just end up keeping everything inside. I know what a release it can be to ask for help, which is why I’m happy to talk so openly about my own experiences.”

Simon Kaviani playing guitar

Speaking about what it’s been like to write and produce a single in lockdown, Simon admits that is has at times been challenging, but it has been a challenge he has relished.

“One good thing about the pandemic is that it’s forced people to do what they can. I’ve had limited options, which has been strangely freeing. I have perfectionist tendencies which in the past, have hindered my ability to create, but in the lockdown, I felt like I didn’t have that excuse to hide behind, so I’ve just had to do my best, and I’ve been really pleased with the results.

“With the single finished, I’m in a really good place now, but it’s taken a lot of work to get here. I hope people will see the journey I’ve been on, and be given the confidence to seek out the help they need.”

The single is upbeat and hopeful, bringing to mind summer days spent in the company of family and friends a reality Simon hopes to be able to return to soon.

“It’s an uncertain time for the music industry, especially with gigging dependant on venues and pubs, which are also really struggling at the moment. I hope that venues will survive, and I’ll be back performing on stage before too long. That in itself will be a nerve-wracking experience after so long at home, but it’s something I’m really looking forward to.”

Simon’s charity single Gimme Some Sunshine will be released on March 12, with all proceeds going to SANE. You can download the single here, or check out the charity auction that Simon has organised to help raise additional funds here.

You can also watch the music video below, guaranteed to put a smile on your face.