The top five inspirations behind Simo Soo’s album, ‘Very Pretty’
On the title track off their latest project, Very Pretty, Melbourne producer, noise rapper and experimentalist SIMO SOO namechecks some of their idols: YOUNG THUG, DEATH GRIPS, LIL PEEP, CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, FRANK ZAPPA and the internet. These are enigmatic artists who throughout their prolific and diverse output have thrown together textures and aesthetics and genres in occasionally anarchic, seemingly incompatible fashions, held together only by their auteurship. It’s all in pursuit of the new, the weird, the challenging, the innovative and the beautiful.
With Very Pretty, their second record of the year, Simo Soo is taking a leaf out of their idols’ books. Entirely self-produced, written and recorded start to finish in just five weeks time and finished only a fortnight out from its release, Very Pretty is a record which feels entirely unconstrained. Having shaken off the shackles of expectation Simo Soo is free to pursue the beautifully weird and innovative with a record that speaks to positivity, spiritual awakenings, the power of dancing and redefines what it means to truly not giving a single fuck. The result is an album which uncompromisingly traverses hip hop, death metal, sci-fi soundtracks, nu-rave, found sounds, samples ripped from Instagram and comes out the other side as something only Simo Soo could’ve produced.
To help untangle this beautifully challenging record we enlisted Simo to catalogue the top five inspirations behind Very Pretty.
Inspiration #1: Posssession, Drive, Blade Runner, Akira, Under the Skin
I get so much influence from films, I always make big lists of them to watch when I make a record. If I didn’t make music, I would definitely be doing something in film. You know those jobs kids say they want to do when they grow up? Mine was to be a film director. Which I still will be, whenever it is I grow up.
Possession is this intense as fuck film about the breakdown of a relationship that I’m not sure I can say anymore about without giving something away. It’s weird, shot beautifully and messed me up for a week after I watched it. So yeah trigger warning, it’s rough. The screams at the end of ‘Emo Fuck Soundtrack 2020’ may or may not have been lifted from the subway scene and other parts of the film.
I was really influenced by the score (and visuals) of Drive, Akira and Under the Skin across basically the whole record. I used mostly analogue sounding synths cos I like the way they sounds in Blade Runner & Drive, they sound like narrators in the films. I also played all the synths live on the record to try get it sound as loose and human as possible. I think I see the synths in the record like a wordless director’s commentary.
A lot of the noise and ‘garbage percussion’ in the record was influenced by Mica Levi’s ‘Under the Skin’ score. Mica is a such a sweet producer and so good at mixing pop and experimental sounds together. Also, I really like that movie, even if I don’t completely get it. Also, whilst I was making the record I watched a lot of YouTube videos about the making of Akira, how they purposely made lighting be it’s own character in the film. It made me realise sometimes I gotta stop and notice things like light and shadows and silence and air all these other beautiful things that exist that are so important that maybe I take for granted sometimes.
Inspiration #2: Moving house, feeling slept on and emo
I made this record directly after moving house and was in this strange place of feeling like my first record this year got a little slept on. So, I thought I could either unpack and sit in my new house and be sad or I could just make another one and see what happens. 5 weeks later with my room still full of unpacked boxes, I finished this record. So surreal having a whole record popping outta me that quick. I’m gonna drop another one before the end of the year., too.
Inspiration #3: City pop, black metal, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, J Dilla, Matmos, 90s house music, Three 6 Mafia
I feel like this record is the most genre-fluid I’ve ever made. I tried not to overthink too much about being a rapper or a beat maker or anything really, just thinking of myself as a musician with infinite influences. There’s no reason a song can’t have chopped and screwed vocals and blast beats on it. No reason a song can’t pull from J Dilla and avant garde electronica from the 60s. No reason a song can’t be influenced by the immaculate voice of Robin S and people like Matmos who make music out of noise from liposuction surgery and washing machines a the same time.
Inspiration #4: Conspiracy theories, world politics, Twitter & YouTube
I’m quite lucky I live in a house full of beautiful chill friends but in the time making this record I barely saw anyone. I would just spend all day in my room doing vocals, making beats, mixing or scrolling Twitter and YouTube. Trying to balance the intensity of Twitter politics and social movements and the absurdity of YouTube conspiracy theory channels. I’m not talking chemtrails and 9/11 though, more like sped up Post Malone songs are actually Justin Bieber songs or the government not telling you that birthmarks are scars from a past life.
I think it all got a bit much once I’d finished the record though and I’ve spent way less time on social media lately. Now my Facebook feed is blocked and I have signs around my room saying ‘GET OFF YOUTUBE & TWITTER UNLESS IT’S BREAKFAST’ but at the time, I felt like it kept me connected to human interaction and definitely gave me a lot of ideas for lyrics.
Inspiration #5: Spicy ramen, cheap wine, vegan pizza buns & overdrawing bank accounts on delivery food
Being a musician and running a label is real fun, totally great, highly recommended but unless you have a day job or are lucky enough to be born into money or get that track that pops off, chances are you’re living on ramen broke as fuck just like me. I was so focused making this record I would forget to eat or go to the store so I pretty much lived on a diet of buying ramen if I remembered and overdrawing my bank account on food deliveries. I’m still catching up to the damage of it so ahhh pretty please buy my new album okee.
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