Plus, the daughter of KISS star Gene Simmons tells ET what it was like growing up in a famous family & explains how music has changed.
Sophie Simmons truly is a gem in the music industry.
The 26-year-old singer skyrocketed to fame after appearing on Gene Simmons Family Jewels with her famous parents, KISS frontman Gene Simmons and model/actress Shannon Tweed. Sophie has had a passion for songwriting since she was a kid, and has never lost sight of where she came from or where she's going. Though the talented artist could easily rely on her family's name to help her rise to the top, Sophie has always believed in making it happen on her own... and this year, that's exactly what she's done.
Following the release of singles like "Black Mirror," "Paper Cut" and "If I Could," Sophie is exclusively premiering her new holiday song, "Courage for Christmas," with ET. She wants fans to know, however, that this isn't your "traditional Christmas song."
With lyrics like "I want courage for Christmas, to tell you how I really feel / If only you'd notice, then you would know love is real," she says the powerful indie-pop ballad is a "reflection" of the lonelier thoughts people can often encounter during the holidays.
"I think every year when this holiday season comes around it just makes you reflect on what you have, what you lost and people that may no longer be in your life anymore," she explains. "When you end on bad terms with people, you kind of wish you could go back and say, 'I still love you and care about you, it just wasn't going to work out.'"
Sophie adds that the song was inspired by a real-life breakup. She wrote the track in July, around the same time she called off her most recent relationship.
"I had just said goodbye to this person and decided they weren't going to be in my life anymore. It manifested into a Christmas song, just thinking about how this year when the holidays come around, this person won't be there, and what a strange feeling that is," she reveals. "Love was never the problem. Sometimes life just gets in the way and you can't accommodate everyone else's needs all the time -- you have to put yourself first at a certain point and do what's best for you."
"Saying goodbye or being alone has such a negative connotation to it, but it really doesn't have to be [that way]," she adds. "I think sometimes saying goodbye to people can be the best thing that you did for that relationship. Sometimes loving someone is letting them go, letting them do their own thing and letting you do your own thing as well."
And doing her own thing has always been Sophie's groove. She grew up in Los Angeles, in a home with her rock star dad, model mother and equally talented brother, Nick Simmons, now 29. Though Sophie always wanted to follow in their footsteps and be a singer herself, she admits she was "pretty terrible" at it as a child.
"I just really never thought I was good and I didn't think I had anything to say as an artist," she confesses. "And that's silly looking back because I have maybe 100 diaries filled with [songs]. What I thought were diary entries were actually lyrics and poems that I was collecting over time -- little ideas that I now put into songs. I didn't think it was an option for me, so it wasn't something I pursued right off the bat, but I guess I have actually been doing it my entire life."
Sophie tells ET she also grew up with a speech impediment, which didn't exactly help her dreams of having a career in the music industry. She jokes that even her brother couldn't stand her singing at the time.
"I had a really bad lisp when I was younger to the point where my brother would just speak for me because he was so annoyed with it. He would be like, 'She's hungry! She wants water,' like he was my mouthpiece," Sophie recalls. "I always felt really comfortable when I was singing though, even though I was really terrible at it at the time. All to my brother's dismay, because we shared a wall and he heard all my terrible notes growing up."
Today, Nick and Sophie are incredibly close. They live together in California, and although they have "very different" schedules, they always seem to be on the same page when it comes to supporting each other's endeavors. "Nick's a night person and I'm very much a morning person," Sophie shares. "I'm in the studio all day and then I get home and just, like, crash. Nick is usually writing during the day at coffee shops, but then at night, that's when he is really thriving. Whenever I'm unsure about anything, he's definitely the person I go to for an unbiased opinion."
And it sounds like Nick has finally given his sister's voice the stamp of approval it deserves.
"Just recently he said, 'You know, you're really good at singing.' And I was like, 'Oh my god, I have been waiting 20 years for you to say that!'" jokes Sophie.
As for her parents? Take one look at their social media accounts and it's easy to see that Gene and Shannon couldn't be more proud of their kids, constantly sharing updates on what Sophie and Nick are working on to their fans. Still, so much has changed in the music industry since Gene first got his start with KISS in the early '70s, that he and Shannon don't always understand how rising artists "make it" into the business these days.
"My parents stay pretty separate from what I do in music and kind of rightfully so because when I write for dance or pop artists, it's very different from anything my parents have experience with," says Sophie, who has collaborated with artists like Yellow Claw and The Galaxy over the past few years. "When they were in the industry, there wasn't streaming or YouTube. It's such a drastically different landscape that it's hard to ask their advice because they're just not sure how it works."
At the same time, Sophie couldn't be more thankful for all the advice and support she's received from her family. Even though how we discover music has changed tremendously, there's plenty of wisdom that will never go out of style.
"The best advice my dad gave me specifically was don't take days off," Sophie reveals. "He said that if this is what you want to do and you love it, then that should be fulfilling enough... you shouldn't need to go take time off from doing this thing that you love."
"He said you should work harder than anyone else, and from that, I have definitely gotten the opportunities that I probably wouldn't have gotten if I said, like, 'I don't write songs on the weekend,'" she adds. "That is a pretty popular saying [for] people in music. No one likes to do it, but I love it because I just honestly love writing songs."
Sophie tells ET that she has been hard at work in the studio this year, and plans to put out plenty of more music for her fans in the coming months.
"I definitely have enough material for an EP and an album, and maybe a couple more," she says. "But with streaming ... I would rather [take my time], release one single at a time, properly promote it and then maybe 6-8 weeks later release another one. I think that's the smart thing to do right now while I continue to develop my fan base."
Meanwhile, Gene is getting ready to embark on KISS' final world tour, appropriately titled End of the Road. Sophie says she'd love to collaborate with her family privately, and has no issue hopping onstage with dance artists, but would she ever be down to open for her dad, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer?
"You know, Paul Stanley's son [Evan] actually opened for KISS for the European leg of their tour two years ago, and he loved it and said it was really fun. But his style is more rock, so it made sense," Sophie explains. "I just don't know if the audience would appreciate the music I do, because everyone has their preference. Not all the people that love KISS also love indie-pop."
"But there's legitimately so many young fans now watching KISS that for sure also listen to Ariana Grande and Top 40 radio," she continues. "I think that the younger the fans get, the more of a crossover there is because they have the music their parents listen to and then what's also on the radio. So, I think it would be severely out of place, but I never like to say 'never.'"
"Courage for Christmas" is officially available via streaming services on Tuesday. In the meantime, watch the video below for more on Sophie.