Simone Johanna Maria Simons (born 17 January 1985) is a Dutch mezzo-soprano singer and the lead vocalist of symphonic metal band Epica. In early 2002, Mark Jansen left After Forever over creative differences. He then began looking for musicians who would work towards a more classical/symphonic type of music project; this was initially named “Sahara Dust”.
In late 2002, the band courted Helena Michaelsen (from Trail of Tears) as its frontwoman, but shortly after she was replaced by the then unknown so-called mezzo-soprano Simone Simons, who was Jansen’s girlfriend at the time. The band’s line-up was completed by guitarist Ad Sluijter, drummer Jeroen Simons, bassist Yves Huts, and keyboard player Coen Janssen. The name was later changed to Epica, inspired by Kamelot’s eponymous album. Epica then assembled a choir (made up of two men and four women) and a string orchestra (three violins, two violas, two cellos and an upright bass) to play along with them. Still under the name Sahara Dust, they produced a two-song demo entitled Cry for the Moon in 2002. As a result, they were signed to Transmission Records. Epica performs a blend of progressive metal, gothic metal and symphonic metal. Another component of Epica’s style is power metal; their former guitarist Ad Sluijter having described the band as “a bridge between power metal and gothic metal.” Vocalist Simone Simons has expressed a preference for the group to be described as symphonic metal though the founder of the group Mark Jansen notes that they do not mind being called gothic metal. The music of Epica is aggressive, bombastic and excessive with some songs being “epic, grand and majestic” and others “more subdued and introspective.” The band is also known to have progressive tendencies while a gothic atmosphere and sentimentality is also present in their music.