Lucas: I know you pretty well but others might not so much. Tell me a little bit about yourself?
Simo: Hmm well… my name is Simo Soo, I make music and run a record label called Yes Rave. I’m really into horror movies, I like fashion but think the industry is pretty evil, kinda like the music industry I suppose. I like cartoons, I believe in ghosts and aliens. When I was a little kid I dressed up like a bee to play piano at my school. I think I have things to give to the world, I think everyone does, I wanna leave behind a positive contribution to the Earth and the people in it. I think people should follow their dreams always, even if it’s maybe not the most responsible thing to do. I think energies, good or bad always comes back in the end and it’s up to people to use that responsibly. I think being honest about feeling vulnerable sometimes is extremely badass. I think honesty is a powerful thing. Equality, peace, ACAB, I really like Outkast. I have an unhealthy amount of Björk vinyl, CDs and memorabilia. Stream Pink Metal on Spotify.
Lucas:Nice! I reckon that you are making a positive contribution. Whenever I am feeling like following my dreams isn’t working you are someone I look to for inspiration because you just never stop. We have known each other for a long time and have been through so many different communities together and apart. When we first met you were doing something more guitar-based. Since the,n you have gone down another path completely. Do you feel like this record is coming back to your roots in a strange way, even though it is so radically different from your earlier work?Simo: I think my whole discography has been leading to this record, to be honest. It feels like me embracing all the elements of myself as a musician at once. I’m definitely doing different things now though I doubt the punk energy will ever leave my music, it’s too ingrained in me and I’m so glad it is. Saying that though, I’d say this definitely is my ‘punk’ album or at least, my most punk. It’s also kinda weird, I wasn’t thinking of this album being a hip hop album at all when I made it but I think it’s also somehow my most hip hop album, as well.
Lucas: For me, punk was deeply tied with where I grew up, what I was hating and the bits I was loving too. This album has some references to where you are from, yet it seems so alien from that place. How has your music been affected by where you are from?
Simo: I grew up in Penrith in Western Sydney. I never really fit in anywhere but had a really broad range of people I would hang out with. I haven’t been back in a long time, but when I was living there, it was a pretty diverse place so I grew up around people that came from really different backgrounds, cultures or classes from each other. I think being able to see how we were all different but still all had things in common definitely affected how I make art.I was also around so many different kinds of music from a young age. Like I’d be walking to primary school listening to Wu-Tang Clan followed by Rimsky-Korsakov. I guess I’m always aiming for that in my music, finding the commonality in people’s experiences as a way of uniting people.
Lucas: It’s pretty funny how modern hip-hop is so postmodern, it is such an amalgamation of all genres in a sense, and that hip-hop itself was started as a way to unite people, yet it seems to me that the broader hip-hop community is divided about whether modern styles of the genre are any good. What are your feelings about where hip-hop is today, and how does that play into Pink Metal?
Simo: With this record I wanted it to be the most ‘me’ record. I wanted the message and the story and spirit of the album to translate to people and be something ‘for’ other people but as far as the musical aesthetic and the sound I purposely treated it as if no one would ever hear it. I just wanted to push myself as far as I could go without thinking of the audience. And I mean, ironically I knew that could be something that other people could take something away from but I think over the last 4 records I’ve made I’ve been moving towards that kind of mindset. Just selfishly creating as a form of eventual selflessness and giving away all my things for people to pick through afterwards.I did hold back on some lyrics as I wanted people to be able to fill in their own stories within what I’m saying. As much as I make music on my own in my room, story wise I want to make something that anyone can relate to. We all have our different things of course but perhaps my creative process is a form of trying to feel less lonely in the world sometimes. I think hip hop is such a beautifully progressive genre that it is always at the best point in it’s history. Like it gets better every day, it’s ever evolving and constantly progressive. If there’s anything I hope to contribute to hip hop, it’s presenting new ideas and I think ‘Pink Metal’ definitely does that. Whether it makes a difference isn’t really up to me but I’m only really interested in trying to push boundaries. Whether that’s making some wild weird shit or making pop music. People forget you can push boundaries whilst making something accessible as well.
Lucas: You have been very prolific and have pushed a lot of different boundaries throughout your career. To me, Pink Metal is your most concise and effective recird in that regard. What was the writing process and timeline for this record?
Simo: I always announce release dates for records before I even start them. I’ll give myself a release date anywhere from 2 months to 3 weeks. That kinda intense deadline works so good for me. Without deadlines I can just keep going forever or lose focus and make a million random things with nowhere in particular to go.Originally, this record was going to come out in September and be called ‘Metal Moschino Music’ but a few weeks out I rescheduled it and started again and made the whole thing in a month. It was the first time I’ve ever rescheduled a release but it was more out of confidence that I could do better than thinking the original wasn’t any good. I always make all the beats for my records first. I re-used two instrumentals and changed them a bit and then made the rest of it in 2 weeks. I did the vocals in a week or so, then spent a week mixing and mastering it. I play guitar on a couple of tracks and with the exception of a few breaks and samples here and there, I programmed all the drums and synths myself. A lot of the foley sounds throughout the record were recorded on my phone or by just hitting record on my laptop and sticking the mic out the window. A lot of the verses on the record are freestyles or freestyles I re-wrote afterwards, probably half of them. I wanted to bring out as much of my subconscious as I could on the record, just vomit up all the negative thoughts in me and then make sense of them later. Playing back the verses to ‘Hour Glass’ after freestyling them and hearing myself say ‘I’m still alone when we’re alone’ was pretty intense.
Lucas: I love the Lou Reed reference, haha. I had an idea of making a record called O.K. Kombucha recently. Are there any life events that you want to talk about that have made this album what it is?
Simo: Oh my god! OK Kombucha is so good! Do it!
The overarching theme of the album is the way trauma and addiction interacts. I went through some pretty intense stuff a little while ago. Deaths, break ups, illnesses, relocating to a new city, just a whole bunch of things at once. I think I’m seeing the other side from it now but with that comes a lot of realisations. The way your reality shifts and things become normalised as a kind of survival technique. You can cling to certain things and realise these things have become addictions. Realising you can be addicted to literally everything you do or experience. Not just drugs or alcohol, everything. Like anxiety is addictive, how sadness and loneliness can be addictive. You get used to it and actively seek it out.I also remember the internet being so fun to use and it made you feel excited about things but now it’s designed like poker machines that keep you triggered into scrolling. Clickbait is made to keep you constantly confused and feeling helpless. It becomes this thing that takes over your mind. I think people will start suing social media companies soon, they’re purposely messing with you whilst making billions from ad revenue and the data you give them. I think we’re in a really strange point in history where so many of the cliche-stoner conspiracies can possibly be real. Like they are recording us, we know governments and people in power do extremely dodgy and evil things and they know that we know that. They don’t even try to hide that they’re lying to us. It’s weird as fuck. Climate change is real and we know why most people in power aren’t doing anything about it. We know there’s huge inequalities between people and we know they don’t really care about it unless it’s profitable. We know all this and we know that they know that we know. However, I still believe that people can achieve great change and that love is the greatest power. This is a weird timeline though. Hmm... am I on a list now?
Lucas: We are all on a list somewhere. As an artistic reflection of the self, what sorts of energy are you bringing to the table with 'Pink Metal'?
Probably the biggest energy I wanted to put in it was the feeling of release. I make projects so quickly that a lot of the time they’re just me spewing out all my emotions and that being a healing energy. The record starts pretty dark but I think there’s always a light at the end of every song. I would never feel right making music that’s purely about making the listener feel bad or projecting my anxieties at them for no reason. I think that kind of art can serve a purpose but I don’t think that would be natural for me to do. It can start out like a Gaspar Noé film but I want it to end like a Pixar film.
Lucas: I like that. Personally, I find Gaspar Noé a bit on the nose because he is just so bleak but bringing in something like Pixar really makes sense from how I see you as an artist. Your aesthetic is quite defining - even the use of the words "Pink" and "Metal" together on such a distinctive photo for the cover is extremely evocative. What are your thoughts on your aesthetic and how do you relate it back to your artistic output?
Oh 100%. The subject matter aside I like how he makes films they are filmed incredibly and I can respect how he really ‘goes there’ but I don’t particularly enjoy them. Sort of like Michael Bay, I think visually his films are beautifully shot but they are so empty and just seem a huge fuck you to the audience… wow, you can explain both of their films in the same way. Anyways…I find aesthetics kinda hard to talk about sometimes. I love so many extremely different things. I just kinda like what I like and maybe my powers in that department are being able to find the thing in common with all these things. There’s a few different reasons why I called the album ‘Pink Metal’, but one is that I love black metal and also love Hello Kitty and wearing tiny lilac shorts. Soft things can be brutal, brutal things can be soft. Everything is everything.
Lucas: On a level of audio aesthetics your music seems to surf a line between high production and more lofi sounds, often going from one to the other in a single song. Is this intentional or more a byproduct of your varied interests?Simo: Definitely intentional, but at the same time I didn’t look up how to produce the ‘right’ way for a long time which I think gives me such an advantage now. I never used to EQ my songs or anything I’d just turn everything as loud as I could so you could hear everything at once. It’s only been in the last couple years I’ve learnt about compression and EQ and mixing and mastering things properly. I’m really glad I worked out my own way of doing things first because now I know how to make things sound awful but also pleasing at the same time. Like in my track ‘Toy’ it turns into this crust punk song all of a sudden at one point and the mixing just completely fucks out, like I wanted it to sound extremely DIY for a minute. Like it was my high school punk band recording in someone’s parent’s living room or something. Total advantage knowing how to produce the ‘wrong’ way before learning the ‘right’ way. Obviously there is no right or wrong, but knowing how to break music in this messed way I can weaponise it now via a more accessible way. So I guess, really the answer is both. Intentional and influences.
Lucas: So you have a collab with the Based God (Lil B). What’s your relationship? What was he like to work with? I doooooo! It’s still so surreal! We’ve had a few cute interactions online before and I knew he was aware of me from some mutual friends telling me but I never thought we’d ever have a song together. Well… maybe I did actually. I figured it would happen at some point, but it’s still mind blowing that it did.I’ve been sending him beats forever, about as long as I’ve been making them and this time he replied saying ‘hey I’m doing a record right now, send me more beats for it and then let me do a verse on your album’. I just freaked out and sent him 20 or so more beats plus the roughest version of ‘Hot Mess’ then turned my phone off and went for a walk so I didn’t have a panic attack waiting for a response. I’m pretty sure he sent the verse back a few hours later and I just sat and listened to it over and over. I didn’t talk about it on the internet until just before it came out, I don’t know how I managed that. He’s one of my favourite artists ever, he has changed music and online culture so much, total life goals stuff. He sent me his phone number recently. It is all so great. Lil B is my friend. Thank you Based God!
Lucas: Are you doing any touring for this record? Do you need a hype mxn? I announced and made the record so fast I forgot to book a tour for it haha. I had a launch planned in Melbourne but the venue got shut down so I decided I’m just gonna do a full Australian tour next year for it. Make some videos and drop remixes and such. I’m not ready to move onto a different project just yet, I think this album deserves a whole bunch of love and attention.And of course! Please! I think everyone needs a hype mxn/person sometimes, especially in these times. Let’s do it. Lucas: Great, my people will be in contact with your people.