sima kim sent an email asking if we’d listen to his newest release online. I was curious to know what type of music that he played and from his biography, it read like he worked on a style that I was completely unaware of. After listening to Music for Dorothy, I thought it would be good for sima to introduce himself because I had never heard of him before and I thought his music should be heard by a wider audience.
Can you introduce yourself?
hello. i’m sima kim from south korea who composes/plays ambient/drone/post(modern)classical music and couldn’t think, i didn’t make music until i was 19 yrs old. haha. i started to study music through the influence of Edurad Hanslick – a 19th german music critic. so my first phase as a musician was a musicologist, but after visiting Germany and India i started to make a music. mmm from 2011. and my debut work was with Singaporian artist Elintseeker and released on the mu-nest‘s compilation in june, 2011.
Your interest in Classical and contemporary music influences your music, but are there any specific musicians that stand out?
yes. too many. first i studied Anton Webern‘s works during my uni days – i couldn’t finish my thesis tho. and Beethoven is really big part of my life as musician. Stockhausen showed a new prospect of music to me. yes. i can’t list everyone who influenced me. actually too many… but i can’t miss my mates – Wouter Van Veldhoven, Antony Ryan (of Isan) and so on.
How do you compose your music? What tools do you use?
mainly two ways.
from paper or from improvisation or both of these.
i only have an old laptop. a few of cheap mics, 3 cassette multitrack recorders, 2 portable reel to reel, mixer, and so on.
i mean, i have no professional recording gear – perhaps that’s why i make an ambient sound, i wanted to make acoustic pieces, but i couldn’t (and still can’t) get a satisfactory result. so i started to mess with my recordings.
in case of the former, i start to make music and play an instrument and refine and play and refine… after then record my scores and start to mess with it on the computer.
in case of latter, i play an instrument and record (usually on the cassette or reel to reel tape) at the same time and mess with it on the computer.
but usually my process is mixed and non-linear.
How did you end up visiting Germany and India? Did these trips expand your ability to compose music?
nothing much. nothing special. just that i recognized i wanna be a composer rather than musicologist – i dunno why. and perhaps expanded my ability. but more accurately these trips helped me to find an inherent ability of mine – (even that is too humble though…)
You have released a lot of music on international labels, did you find that listeners outside of South Korea appreciated your music more?
yes… it’s still hard to find listeners and support here. but i started music outside of Korea. and i had spent more time there than in Korea. that’s natural…
The descriptions of your music range from electronica, pop, indie, and chillout, but how would you describe your music?
perhaps all. i always try something new. one of my works is about 50 min of drone work and another one is dream pop. i do what i wanna do. but i would like to describe my music as a process to find mindfulness.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a musician? Is it composing music or trying to get people to discover your releases?
haha… all… but the hardest thing is the continuation of my musical career. ah also my incompetence – that makes me sad but also that’s a main driving force too.
Is there a song that you’ve composed that you’re most proud of?
mmm no… i hope to compose that soon…
Are there any musicians that you want to collaborate with?
yes yes!!! g-dragon and shinoda mariko!!!
Since you started studying musicology and earned a degree, do you listen to music differently?
ah! i shuld fix that. i didn’t get a degree yet – my bio in tumblr is written by a Sinaporean artist amy goh because i’m not good at talking about myself… i’m so shy!. anyway like other people, i listen music in the bus, street, subway and so on. but i try to find a time for concentrated listening with scores. and in that time, i try to find the inner logic of a piece – that’s what my major gave me. i can say that is my obsession… you know, outside of academic music, it has no logic… made by intuition rather than logic…
also i always try to find a structure, a way of development and so on.
Do you have any long-term goals for 2014?
i wanna make a foundation for my music in korea. still i have more schedules outside of Korea – also i go to Japan for a gig this week. and moreover, originally i should go back to Europe to my university. but i gave up going back and decided to stay in Korea – i already paid my tuition though 🙁 so i need a scaffolding in Korea.
sima kim’s music is definitely different from what I normally listen to. A lot of his music sounds like soundtracks and finding out how he creates is music is impressive. I’ve bought all his music on bandcamp and each song is pretty amazing. As he’s trying to make a place for himself in Korea, he can always use support internationally.