Paul Simon's daughter is setting out with a sound entirely her own (with a little inspiration from Carly Rae Jepsen) on her debut EP, Lulu Simon — and PEOPLE has an exclusive first listen
Lulu Simon wants to be your best friend.
She also wants to make you cry, as she sings on her new summer-love anthem “I Wanna Break Ur Heart” — and the budding popstar just might manage to do all of the above with her eponymous debut EP, which serves up bubbly Carly Rae Jepsen and Kim Petras style ’80s synth beats and a host of sassy breakup bops for you to blast in the car.
“They’re definitely all on one side of the coin or the other of a romantic situation,” Simon tells PEOPLE exclusively of the tracks on her EP, available Friday. “Those are the situations that are the most stressful. So I’m like, ‘Okay, how do I untangle this thread of emotions? I’m going to write about it.’ Whereas if I’m just feeling good about whatever in life, I’m not thinking, ‘Let me sit down and write a song about this.’ I’m like, I wanna dance to other songs.”
Simon’s lead single off the EP, “I Wanna Break Ur Heart,” (which PEOPLE has an exclusive first listen to above) isn’t “based on any specific instance — it’s more about the romantic fantasies that I used to have when I was like 13 or 14 in Montauk,” she says. “I’d see a cute surfer boy on the beach and be like [whispering] ‘I love you.’”
The 24-year-old daughter of iconic singer-songwriters Paul Simon and Edie Brickell and sister to two fellow musicians, Simon has long embraced music as part of the fabric of her daily life.
“We used to make up songs as we were walking through Central Park, or in the bath,” she says of growing up in a musical family. “We would always just write music.” Watching her siblings and parents create “was inspiring,” she continues, “in that it was like, ‘Oh, I don’t just have to listen to music — if I want it, I could do it too,” she says. “Because I’m watching all these people around me do it.”
Having taken piano lessons from a young age, Simon taught herself how to play the guitar in middle school, and soon began writing her own songs in secret. “I literally used to go into my bathroom and turn the water on and play guitar and sing very quietly,” she tells PEOPLE. “I wasn’t ready for people in my family to know that I was making music … because I wanted to be sure of what I was doing.”
While she started out playing open-mic nights as an acoustic singer-songwriter, Simon found herself increasingly drawn to pop music. “It was difficult at first because I was like, I don’t know how the type of music I write naturally would translate into pop. I didn’t know if that was possible.”
She credits her producer, Andy Seltzer (who co-wrote and co-produced Maggie Rogers’ “Split Stones”), with giving her “more confidence in my acoustic songs and their malleability — that they can be pop songs even though that’s not the way I heard them at first, but they can still maintain that singer-songwriter integrity and vulnerability.”
Simon’s lyrics, layered over bright, bubbly synths, are perfectly suited for belting out while driving, which is exactly what she hoped for. “I wanted all of my songs to feel like songs to listen to in the car. … One of my favorite things ever is to be in the car blasting such a f—ing bop … those moments when you’re like, this is such a perfect moment, and I never, I don’t want this song to end.”
She adds, “The sounds that I gravitate towards now are very ’80s synth-poppy, like so bright, in your face.” She’s inspired by the likes of pop princesses Jepsen and Petras — “I literally just saw both of them [in concert] and it just makes me feel so good,” she says. “I just want to make the kind of music that I want to listen to, and that’s just what I want to listen to all the time.”
Regarding her own plans for touring, the rising star can’t wait. “I haven’t really played any shows in this new pop era, but I would be really excited to explore the physical and visual expression of the songs,” she says. “For so long when I performed it’s just been me and my guitar, so to be able to dress up and really go wild with it will just be so much fun. To have people enjoying themselves and dancing hopefully, I think that will just feel so rewarding.”
Lulu Simon is available Friday.