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5th Week MT23 Newsletter Interview - Phoebe Holmes-Simeon

Each week, the OUMS newsletter features an interview with someone who positively contributes to the Oxford music scene. This week, we sat down with singer and bassist Phoebe Holmes-Simeon to ask her about OUJO's upcoming gig at the Bullingdon and her experience in Oxford's jazz scene!

Phoebe Holmes-Simeon (she/her)

Singer, songwriter, bassist, and composer, also known as Phoebe Blue

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Phoebe, a second-year undergrad studying Classics at Balliol. I write and produce music, but mainly sing and play electric bass, usually within the genres of jazz, funk, and soul. Currently, I’m the lead singer in the jazz/neo-soul quintet called Doubletime, one of two singers in the Oxford University Jazz Orchestra (OUJO), and one of three in Dot’s Funk Odyssey (DFO) – and I love it.

What are you working on at the moment?

Aside from adding to and practising my repertoire, I’m working on writing music.

Just constantly writing lyrics and music. That’s what I believe to be best for me at

the moment. I’m also focusing on playing with as many musicians as I can. It’s one

of the greatest forms of “musical education” you can get in my opinion, because,

after all, music is about communication.

And in a less literal sense, what I suppose I’m working on is letting go, and not

being afraid to musically experiment. Quite cliché, I know, but true. Music is

something we create, and yet it is bigger than all of us, both in itself and in its

effect. There is no perfect way to express music, and this can sometimes feel

confusing (and frustrating). However, it also means we have freedom: we are free

to do whatever we want with music in whichever way we wish. This is what I keep

on reminding myself recently.

What has been your favourite musical experience at Oxford so far?

This is a big question. I’m lucky enough to have experienced many wonderful music-

related things with many wonderful people, and so, narrowing it down to only a top

few will be difficult… but I’ll try. Firstly, a favourite experience of mine as part of an

audience was a concert which celebrated George and Ira Gershwin, called ‘George’s

Marvellous Music’. Another was watching the band Yaatri at the Mad Hatter. Both

experiences were quite different, but are equally special to me.

Out of my experiences on stage, a favourite with DFO was Wadstock, which is

apparently a common favourite gig amongst DFOers (and for very good reason). So,

for me it was either that one or our gig at Tap Social. There was just something

about Tap Social, I can’t explain it. With OUJO, I really liked our first Jazz at St Giles’

performance, and our second one too, actually, for other reasons. Lastly, one that

immediately comes to mind with Doubletime is Balliol Ball. It was our first proper gig

together, and the first time we truly felt like a band; it was as if something clicked

between us all on stage. Best feeling ever.

These are all from first-year, which makes me excited about the experiences I am

yet to have. This term, I’m especially looking forward to our OUJO Bullingdon gig on

14th November and DFOxmas on 26th November.

Where do you envision yourself heading in the future?

I’m sure the future will come with its surprises, but I picture myself doing what I love.

This means continuing to write and perform, while welcoming any opportunities that

come to me, and using my experiences to shape and develop the music I make;

growth is so important, and I have learnt to value it so much more since being here. I

also intend to be releasing and performing my own music, as well as collaborating

with other musicians both in the UK and across the world.

Could you provide us with a music recommendation?

I’ll give you two: ‘Get it Got it’ by Adi Oasis, and ‘Hold it’ by Chris Potter.

For tickets for OUJO's upcoming gig at The Bullingdon, click here.

To find out more about the OUMS newsletter and our interviews, email Christopher at


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