Interview: The Download Tapes – SiM

Music makes the world a much smaller place. It is universal in ignoring borders and boundaries. So when there’s a culture clash at one level it’s music that unites us on common ground. Take Japanese alt rockers SiM for instance, parachuted into the UK for the first time and on stage UK fans loved them. They understood and appreciated the music. Gary Trueman spoke with vocalist Mah (via a translator) about music culture and the Japanese fondness for anime.

Your music is quite theatrical with a strong anime theme running through it. Where do you get those aspects from?

“We can say that in Japan anime is a part of our life, it’s not just a thing for a geek or a nerd. To us it’s a very organic thing. We are a rock band and not an anime band but we are happy that we can fuse these elements together.”

Almost all of your lyrics are in English. How do you do that when English and Japanese phonetically are some distance apart? Is it difficult to make a lyric you may think up in one language fit in another one?

“Generally Japanese people don’t tend to speak English so what I try to do as a huge fan of rock music (which is usually in English) is learn that language for the sake of the music. When I was a teen I wasn’t really any good at speaking or writing in English but I learned to write in English for the songs. I loved learning it.”

How excited are you to be here playing Download festival and is the festival well known in Japan?

“We do have a Download in Japan so of course we know the festival and some bands from the UK have played it. We’re really excited to play here.”

It’s your first time in the UK so what are the things you’ve noticed most that are culturally different between the two countries? Is there anything that has you wondering why the English do this?

“I had some food last night and it was the worst sushi in the world haha! It was so bad. But other than that people are really kind hearted. We’ve been made to feel very comfortable. People don’t care how you look. So I really like this country.”

Going back to music where do you get your influences from because your sound is highly eclectic?

“If you were to ask me what are my three favourite bands I’d say Deftones, Rammstein and The Specials. We’re trying to be a modern version of The Clash.”

You’ve been around for a number of years so you’re well known in Japan but does it surprise you how many people know your music and know SiM around the world?

“We’re very surprised. It was the single in 2022 (The Rumbling) we released for the animation Attack On Titan that really broke the band overseas. We had almost given up on the idea of playing abroad. We were thinking at the time that it’s OK as we have a great Japanese audience but now we get to play places like Download and we’re really excited and surprised as well.”

What’s the rock scene like in Japan?

“The scene is bigger than you might think. We can get quite high placings in the music charts. We’d love to have more UK artists come over and play in Japan.”

Have you got a festival survival tip you’d like to share?

“Get up early and watch as many bands as possible.”

SiM – Facebook

Translator Credit: Chaiki Nozu

Interview and photo by Gary Trueman