A musician's journey may not always be the easiest.
"(The pandemic) was tough. It was tough mentally and emotionally," Jessica Sims, one half of the music duo Prettier than Matt, said.
But the bond between Columbia duo, Prettier than Matt, has withstood for over a decade.
Duo Jessica Sims and Jeff Pitts have been playing music together since 2010. They have released three full-length albums among other EPs, as well as have performed many gigs in Columbia and around South Carolina together.
Jessica Sims said she moved to the Soda City in 2009 after her older brother encouraged her to not move back home but instead live in Columbia. While Columbia was only supposed to be a placeholder, the city grew on her.
Pitts, the other half of the duo, graduated from Francis Marion and has lived in Columbia since 2003. Pitts said he moved to the city, looking for more gigs and wanted to try something new.
“When I met Jessica randomly one night, we started playing together a lot and we had no band name,” Pitts said.
Sims and Pitts ended up discovering their band name after a friend made a comparison between Jessica Sims and Pitts' former bandmate named Matt.
“(Pitts and Matt) would do acoustic gigs where (they) would play together. And Matt never wanted to do that anymore, but (Pitt) did because acoustic gigs made more money,” Jessica Sims said. “Our friend wanted to book us — he said that I was prettier than Matt.”
According to Sims, the name was only supposed to be temporary, but it stuck.
Now, with the making of Prettier than Matt’s most recent album, "Colors", the duo is reflecting on different times of their life. According to Sims, the album is most similar to where she is now.
“It’s just more applicable to where I am right now because it’s a couple of songs ... like maybe one or two sort of happy songs, but it’s stuff I’ve written about (my husband) and our relationship,” Sims said. “Our album 'Colors' was just more like I'm in a happy place and a happy relationship and like this is what’s going on with that relationship.”
Jessica Sims first met her husband, Justin Sims, the general manager at Sims Music, in the store. Justin Sims shared that she came in to buy something for a church service. The two wouldn't reconnect until five or six years later, where they ended up becoming best friends and later on getting married.
Justin Sims said he's proud of where Jessica's at with music and said that she's "the most talented person in town."
"She's a local rock star," Justin Sims said. "Everyone who goes out to see music knows her, which is pretty cool. So she's got her thing — I like that a lot."
While Jessica Sims reflects about her relationship with Justin on the album, Pitts looks back to his mother, who passed away in the same year as Jessica Sims' engagement.
“We had two different paths there for a minute, it just seemed like everything was well ... That year, the same year, my grandma passed away too on the same side of the family,” Pitts said. “Everything was just kind of was a bad year for me and a really good year for her, and the record came out kind of cool though.”
According to Pitts, writing the words down helped him work through his grief and being able to harmonize with Sims on the songs gave him a voice to communicate those emotions to the audience.
“There’s something about playing with a bandmate, like you’re sharing a moment that’s kind of y'alls moment. It’s the kind of relationship you have that isn’t like other relationships with best friends or romantic or whatever,” Pitts said. “It’s just something that’s, like, we’re bandmates and this feels cool when you have these performed, you’re performing together, you’re in sync together.”
For now, the duo is working on new music and getting into the recording studio in February.
“It’s my favorite thing to do, is put out music,” Pitts said. “I love to perform live, but when you take nothing and make something, it’s always my favorite.”
Sims said she is excited for all the new things that they are working on. According to her, the album is like a new time capsule — a new stage of where they both are in their lives.
“People come up, and they’re like, ‘What CD is your favorite?’ I’m like, 'Don’t ask me that. It’s like asking which one’s your favorite kid, because they’re all different,'” Sims said. “We're seeing (the albums) like time capsules of different times of our lives, which is such a big reason why we record.”