With inspiration taken from notable music of the 90s, life experiences and the surroundings of the Pacific Northwest, Montesano musician Emmanuel Simmons has been writing music on the Harbor for 15 years, performing at local venues including Pub Monte in Montesano, Tinderbox Coffee Roasters and the Nirvana Coffee Company, both in Aberdeen, and at the Elma Grange.

Emmanuel “The JazzEman” Simmons’ taste in music is varied and not easily put into a single box. This can be discerned simply by listening to the music Simmons has written throughout the years.

“It’s a mixture of folk, punk rock, and a little bit of jazz,” Simmons, 30, explains. But some of his originals also tread into the rap, indie, hip-hop and pop genres; a unique sound that has been cultivated from years of experimentation.

Simmons, an Elma High School graduate, was first introduced to the world of music when he was 14 and began writing his own songs only a year later. At the time, he was very influenced by jazz and some of those first songs, such as “My Sun in Winter,” can still be listened to on his Spotify.

Currently, he sings, plays guitar, bass and drums, but Simmons started his music journey on guitar. His family gave him some tracks to listen along to and he taught himself how to play using those and whatever helpful information he could find online. “I didn’t even really memorize the names of the chords until I started doing lead worship at a local church,” he says.

Photo by Katie McGregor

Photo by Katie McGregor

“I didn’t even really memorize the names of the chords until I started doing lead worship at a local church,” he says. Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

In true Grays Harbor spirit, Simmons recalls that the first song he learned to play on guitar was Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit.” That was followed by All American Rejects’ “Swing, Swing” and Green Day’s “Whatsername.” If he liked it, he learned to play it.

“Writing songs can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. Recording can take a lot longer,” Simmons says. Much like his taste in music, his writing process varies. Some-times a specific topic is the main theme, but according to Simmons, more often than not the songs write themselves.

Much of his music is produced and recorded with the help of friends. Occasionally Simmons will actually rewrite parts of songs according to feedback he receives in the studio. This was the case with “Grays Harbor Rain” when he altered one of the chorus lines according to the suggestion of a friend. For him, the writing and recording process from start to finish is a collaborative effort. Simmons has made quite a few friends in the music industry throughout the years, which has led to some of these special projects.

In 2015 Simmons was at the music store to pick out a new guitar — the Martin he currently plays — when Luke and Isaac Olson of Olympia’s The Olson Bros Band walked in. They heard him playing, showed Simmons some of their music, and all became fast friends. Shortly after, they started spending time at each other’s houses and having jam sessions. “I thought I was going in to get a new guitar, but ended up gaining some lifelong friends,” Simmons says. Simmons has since co-written music with the Olsons and has occasionally opened for their shows, including venues in Centralia, Yelm, Mercer Island and even Oregon.

The collaborations Simmons has participated in extend to working with some of his musical inspirations as well. In 2015 Simmons recorded his album “A Nugget in the Bucket” at Monkey Trench Studios in Bremerton, owned by MxPx lead singer Mike Herrera. He happened to run into Herrera in the studio hallway and they ended up hanging out a few times, which was exciting because Simmons considers MxPx to be one of his big musical inspirations. While at the studio recording his album, Simmons mentioned to the producer that he was a fan of the band Amber Pacific.

Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Simmons

Amber Pacific’s lead vocalist, Matt Young, conveniently, was working on some new songs at the studio. So, the producer offered to intro-duce him to Simmons. After meeting, Simmons and Young sang together on “Run Baby Run,” a track on Simmons’ 2015 album. Shortly after recording, Simmons was invited to one of Amber Pacific’s shows in Seattle where he watched them perform a special acoustic set. Simmons says that he dreams of also someday collaborating with Blink-182 and Green Day. But he also sticks to his Harbor roots and is currently collaborating with one of his best childhood friends, Nick Burgess. Simmons and Burgess have previously worked together, but they’ve currently formed a band called Across the Coastline. Simmons is looking forward to working more on the project.

Simmons hopes to have several more songs released this summer and mentioned that one of them is a collaboration with J.Rob the Chief. The passion that Simmons holds for writing, performing, and creating is undeniable, “I think that, basically from the beginning, I knew this is what I wanted to do forever.”

Emmanuel Simmons is enthusiastic about performing live this summer on the Harbor, including a performance at the Montesano Saturday Morning Market from 10 a.m. to noon on August 13. His music can be found on Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, Apple Music, and Amazon under his stage name, “The JazzEman.” He can also be found on TikTok under the same name.