Travel Tips from Simonne JonesShe is a superstar in the making. Here the Berlin-based musician Simonne Jones lets loose on her favourite beaches and a penis parade
Simonne Jones is nothing short of an all-round genius. The 28-year-old Californian has a degree in biomedical research and biology. For years she worked in a genetics laboratory in the US cloning bacteria cells, before moving to Ghana for a HIV research volunteer research project.
Today Jones lives in Berlin. And besides modelling, building musical instruments, composing music for the theatre and obsessing over scientific formulas, she writes brilliantly catchy indie-pop songs, best exemplified by her new EP Gravity which will be out on May 27th.
In celebration of the release the Red Bull Music Academy alumna reveals her travel tips and preferences.
Your passport, wallet, phone and suitcase aside, what item do you always take on journeys?
A good pair of headphones and a Geiger counter to measure radioactivity, just for fun. Last time I flew to LA when I was working on the record, I accidentally set the threshold too low and the danger alarm went off on the plane. It was a really embarrassing moment because it was going off for a while before I realised what it was and people were staring. I also usually carry a compass because I have one built into my favourite necklace.
What drink would you recommend to combat the fear of flying?
None at all actually. Face your fears head on! I would say just get through it sober and awake. Maybe even drink a Red Bull and get the adrenaline going. Then enjoy a heightened sense of what it feels like to be alive, and observe how powerful an illusion entirely created by your mind can leave a limitless human feeling powerless.
Name a place abroad you return to whenever possible.
When I get off the plane from Berlin to Los Angeles, before I eat, or even drop off my luggage, I go to the Griffith Park Observatory. It is my favourite place in the world. Watching the sunset over the horizon and seeing the twinkling lights come on in the city from up above reminds me of being a teenager in LA and dreaming about the life I’m living now. The observatory grounds me and reminds me to keep dreaming big.
What’s the best destination for a weekend with friends?
A ride on Space X’s Dragon Version 2 spacecraft for a commercial flight into space with 6 of your closest friends to orbit the earth and check out the view.
Which foreign culture would you like to know more about?
It is a tie between the erased ancient history of the indigenous tribes in America and the culture behind the Kanamara Matsuri Japanese penis festival, featuring a massive colourful dick parading throughout the city. Kids and elderly alike suck on dick pops.
What’s the most beautiful beach you’ve ever set your bare foot on?
A small island in the Caribbean. My best friend was working as an engineer in the space division at Boeing at the time and was invited there to work on a top-secret project. I flew on one of those small 6 seater planes and we had to stop take-off to wait for an iguana to cross the runway.
He was working on Richard Branson’s island called Necker Island engineering a renewable energy powered micro grid as a self-sufficient island, to help transition nations off fossil fuels in a cost effective way. The beach in the islands surrounding the area were isolated and beautiful. My favourite time was when they were lit up by the moonlight.
Tell us the best destination for a romantic weekend with a new love interest.
The Grand Kameha Zurich hotel space suite which is a space station-inspired luxury hotel room. I would also hang out with friends at Cern while in the country, explore the research facility at the Large Hadron Collider and check out the art exhibition room.
Which types of drivers did you meet during your hitchhiking phase: a) the lonely trucker, b) the older slow driver, c) the crazy guy with the baseball cap who speeds up to 100mph just to scare you?
Swap baseball cap for motorcycle helmet and that would be the one.
Which tropical diseases have you been vaccinated against?
I volunteered in Africa, deep in the undeveloped bush doing HIV research. I also worked in a hospital less than 10 years ago in the surgical operating room and handled lots of blood so I am vaccinated against almost everything you can be vaccinated for: Anthrax, chickenpox, diphtheria, hepatitis a, hepatitis b, HIB, HPV, measles, meningococcal, mumps, polio, rabies, pneumococcal, shingles, rubella, smallpox, tetanus, tuberculosis, typhoid, pertussis and yellow fever.
What have you learned about yourself on your journeys?
When I was in Africa, I lived without running water or electricity. I also didn’t look in a mirror or connect to the modern world for a summer. Being alone with yourself and your own thoughts is really scary at first but you learn who you are when your identity, companions and possessions are stripped away of distractions. When there aren’t even objects you picked in your room to remind you of your identity, you learn what it truly means. It was a bit of a rebirth.
How many flight hours can you cope with in one go?
I went to Ghana for a HIV research volunteer research project. It was a 25-hour journey. It was rough but I could do it again. I was in China for a theatre tour for a play I composed the music for and had to be in Brazil to shoot a documentary in the Amazon near Sao Paolo just after. I had to fly back to Berlin, it was too much.
Is there a seating position on a plane you can have a comfortable nap in?
No. I have not learned to sleep on planes. I read and watch movies and stand up as much as I can. I also have unusually long legs so it is just complicated.
What year and place would you travel to if you had a time machine?
I would travel to 4000 BC in an ancient Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia. They had female leaders and were highly regarded in society. Not to mention their advanced mathematics, still in use today including the first lunar calendar. Some people believed they were ancient aliens because of the controversy surrounding their religious texts.
Name a metropolis that’s overrated.
Los Angeles. I am biased though because I grew up there as a starting point and had the itch to leave to explore the world.
What’s the strangest means of transport you’ve ever used on a journey?
I went on an adventure for a few days in a canoe with friends and explored the wilderness. It was scary at times but beautiful.
What’s the most unusual smelling delicacy you have ever tried on your travels?
When I was in China plenty smelled strange to me. The play I scored was in Tianjin and after sound check on the first day I wandered around with Thor, my tour manager. We didn’t know what anything was and just tried a few dishes. I still couldn’t tell you everything that I ate.
Tell us the first name of an exciting holiday love who you’ve never met again.
Wow, these questions are getting juicy. Lux.
Where’s the last place you slept outdoors?
In the Amazon jungle with the Guarani tribe.