Interview

Deep Dive with sim_bex [Q&A]

Audrey Brandes
@vixxion

Sim_bex’s music is dark, gorgeous, and eloquently paints the excruciating loneliness of the human experience. So you can imagine my surprise when I was greeted by a bubbly, kind, and expressive freckle-faced brunette poised casually in her brightly-lit LA apartment over zoom. The singer-songwriter and I originally sat down to discuss the mystery behind her elusive tracks, only to end up laughing about old exes and being too old for TikTok. But – she was kind enough to share the meaning behind her music, her plans for 2021, and the significance of her persona as sim_bex.

I was so happy that you saw my article about your latest single "blood_thinner."

It meant so much to see that. Just feeling like people can see the vision, people are getting what I’m trying to do.

That makes me so happy to hear. Your art is so special, I really believe it deserves so much more attention. So, right off the bat, tell me a little about your background.

Right. Well, I’m 25, turning 26 soon. Which is terrifying.

Oh God, I’ve also been having those massive existential crises recently. I swear I feel like I’m still sixteen.

Yes! I’m definitely still just 18 in my mind. Never turned 20. Nope. It’s so scary getting older.

You should write a song about that.

(Laughs) I really should. But yeah, I’m from Texas. A super small-town called Aledo. We had cows outside the school windows, and just one gas station. The biggest thing in town was high school football. Great people but just not my vibe.

When did you move to LA?

I moved to LA in the summer eight years ago. I was 18 and I had just graduated high school. And you’d think it would’ve been hard but the transition was really smooth. I was just so excited to be doing something on my own. All these crazy dreams I thought were gonna come true the moment I moved to LA. Which obviously doesn’t happen. But it was great. I love it here.

And the goal was to pursue music?

Yeah. I had two songs... that were very bad. Very singer-songwriter-y. Did tons of covers. I wasn’t connected with what I was doing. I was trying to be something I wasn’t.

Well, what you have now feels very authentic.

Only took seven years.

Great things take time. And your name, sim_bex, what’s the meaning behind that?

It’s funny, it was actually my finsta (fake Insta) handle for a long time. It was at a time when I was super into the simulation theory. It’s kind of representative of this simulated version of me on the internet.

And that’s totally the vibe of your music – very alternative universe, other dimensional.

That’s the goal, have a whole simulation vibe.

And how long have you been creating your own music?

All throughout my life, but I really started focusing on solo stuff, you know, sim_bex, last February. So it’s been about a year.

No way, so you’ve seen a lot of growth this year. How did you originally get into creating music?

It actually started in high school. You see, the guy I was dating was a producer. And I was hesitant, I hadn’t really ever recorded myself and I didn’t know where to begin. But he just said, let’s record some covers. And I basically just turned into a cover artist.

Wow.

Yeah, I know. But we did that for a couple of years and that was when I started to realize that maybe I could actually do this music thing.

So when you made that transition to creating your own music, what was the production process like for you? Your sound is so distinct.

Most of the production is up to my producer, GHXST. But he knows my vision. I write all my lyrics and melodies but he really pulls it all together.

Yeah he definitely gets your vibe.

Well it helps that we’re dating, too. (laughs)

He’s not the same one from high school, is he?

No, no.

So I have to ask: where do you draw your inspiration from? Your music is so dark yet beautiful. Kind of bouncing between heavenly and post-apocalyptic.

Well, thank you. I definitely draw from some of my artists. You know Daughter? Her whole vibe is just so fucking sad, and she’s such an amazing storyteller, combined with a voice that is so so beautiful. Same thing with Purity Ring. All their themes are super weird and out-there, very ethereal, but her voice is like a child’s voice. It’s so pure and really beautiful.

They are amazing, and you emulate that feeling so well.

I love the beautiful aspects of life and music, but I’m definitely a pessimist. I kind of see the worst in everything, whether I like it or not. But I love the beautiful moments – I try to capture that perfect mixture of my personality.

It definitely comes through. And your music is also so so visual – I can picture an entire scene in my head just listening to it. Are videos in the cards for 2021?

I have a couple videos out already and have a ton of friends in the video business. Everyone is mega-talented. I want that to be a big part of my brand this year. Super cinematic scenes and crazy visuals. That’s what I’m going for.

I’m sure the pandemic has not helped getting any new ones out at all.

Nope.

How has that affected your writing process?

At the beginning, it felt like everything was over. Couldn’t work, couldn’t see people. And I don’t know how so many artists feel creative when they’re depressed. I’m not doing anything, I’m not writing. At first it was really bad. But lately, it’s been great. Having that extra time, putting blinders on and focusing on my music.

I feel like we’re finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So with that being said, what are you planning for 2021?

I have a bunch of songs in the works, but they’ll probably be singles. But I am definitely planning on getting a bigger project out. Either an EP or an album. I need to build my discography

I think you do, too because frankly, I want more.

Yeah, three songs in a year. I need to *clicks* kick it up a notch. Definitely 2021.

Well I’m really looking forward to it. If you had to say, what vision do you have for the project?

I think it would be really versatile. Lately, I’ve been writing to a bunch of different types of beats. Like one song I have right now is very hard. Like a Ski Mask (the Slump God) type beat. And then I have another that is much darker. Kind of Daughter-esque, tons of reverb. Another song that’s really acoustic. I just want to bring a ton of stuff into the album. I want to explore different styles with each song, but of course have it be cohesive.

Well I love versatility. Your songs out right now all fit that haunting, eerie vibe. Your latest song blood_thinner is amazing, by the way. It definitely sounds like you wrote it with the pandemic in mind. Very post-apocalyptic.

The pandemic definitely played a big part. I hadn’t seen another person in so long so the lyrics “tomorrow I hope I wake up as the last person on earth” definitely felt like what I was going through. I really did feel like the last person on earth.

I definitely feel that. Huge “end of the world” vibes.

Well, funnily enough, my boyfriend and I have been looking into this crazy sub-genre that’s called “death dream.” Literally the whole theme of the genre is exploring post-apocalyptic abandoned houses. And I just thought, I want to put that into a song.

Well, that’s exactly what you did. And your breakout track, "psychic," what’s the story behind that one?

"psychic" was actually about the guy I moved to LA with, my high school boyfriend. We dated for years on and off. And it was just never right. We kept breaking something that we thought was mended, but it never fully was.

Right.

And the last time we saw each other, finally breaking it off, deleting each other’s numbers, the whole thing – He said the thing that solidified our breakup was that his psychic told him that “if we get married, we’re gonna get divorced. This is going to end badly no matter what.” And I’m just standing there like “Cool, cool, that’s great.” (laughing)

Well, there you go. That’s absurd but at least it made for a good song.

Yes! And it was just so weird that I was like “okay, I have to write a song about that.”

Yeah "psychic" really blew up last year.

It did! And I don’t know how... It started kind of slowly and then the algorithm picked up, it started going on people’s Discover Weekly’s (on Spotify) and it did really well. Tons of people adding it to their playlists all of a sudden.

It’s funny, that’s exactly how I found it. Usually I don’t even like much of the music on my Discover Weekly playlist but the moment I heard your song I stopped in my tracks. Like, wow, this is really good. Really good.

That’s the dream! Yeah it still kind of blows my mind. Half a million streams already.

Weird stories make for good songs.

Exactly.

Is "fault_in_my_code" inspired by some odd event like that?

Well, it was kind of also about that relationship. You know when you keep making the same mistakes over and over but you can’t stop? And you’re like I know this is a problem, but it’s almost in my DNA. I know it’s wrong, but I can’t do better. It must be a fault in my code.

Damn, that’s really beautiful.

Definitely written out of frustration. But many good things come of that.

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