Interview: Indie Soul Pop Songwriter Simha Talks New EP ‘After So Long’

On top of fusing multiple genres and influences to create a beautiful soundscape, Simha is looking to make a difference through music. 

Sihma grew up in the melting pot that is the San Francisco Bay Area, gaining a surplus of musical knowledge through his upbringing. Taking sounds from soul, jazz, R&B, Indian classical music, and more, he’s been able to create a sonic concoction all his own.

In 2018 Simha moved to LA, which allowed him to sharpen his skills and be surrounded by infinite inspiration. All of this has combined into his signature sound involving lush textures and layered vocal harmonies. Since starting on this path, he’s released five singles and a new EP titled After So Long // बरसों बाद , which dropped April 9th.

The latter deals with themes of anxiety, inter-generational trauma, and self-acceptance. His goal is to constantly push himself as an artist while also being able to create a welcoming space for Queer Bipoc artists that are delving into similar genres. Falling back on what is comfortable is not an option for Simha, who looks to constantly evolve his sound along with the rapidly evolving world around him.

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We got to chat with Simha to learn more about his new EP, his upbringing, and future plans.

So what was your upbringing like, and who or what piqued your interest in music making?

I grew up in an immigrant household, and when I was a child we had gone through many changes. The biggest constant throughout our lives was practicing and appreciating music. My Dad used to play slide guitar when he was younger, and my Mom is a professional tabla player. So from a very young age they instilled the importance of art in both my brother and I.

I originally started taking Indian classical lessons in different instruments. I tried violin, tabla, bansuri, but nothing really stuck except for singing. I think the biggest thing that attracted me to music was the communal experience of creating it and how meaningful it can be. My very first experience singing in a group was singing Bhajans at the temple that my family used to go to. We’d sing a few songs together and then eat dinner before going home and it only solidified how incredibly important it was to experience art, whether it’s secular or non secular. 

How does the vast cultures of the Bay Area influence your songwriting and the direction of your sound?

I grew up in the south bay in Silicon Valley. Outside of tech bros and hipster start-ups, the majority of the cultures that were there were from Asia. Being so close to my own culture gave me the seasoning for developing my own sound, sometimes unintentionally. A lot of people from my community say they hear the Indian classical influences in my voice and in my melodies and harmonies. Although I don’t do that on purpose, I don’t try to diminish that part of my influence because it adds meaning and value to my art. 

Your music has a deep understanding of musicianship while adding lots of unique sounds and textures. What does a day in the life of creating one of these songs look like?

Wow. First of all, thank you for noticing that, haha. Honestly I think it comes from not being able to be conservative with how many choices I make and how many layers I add. I feel like that’s how my brain works with any given task. I HAVE to see and be able to hear every little thing I can add to the song – melodies, harmonies, instrumentation, bridges, beats, groove changes, tempo changes etc.

After I finally hear everything I could possibly come up with, I chose what I keep and what I leave for something else. I hear so many different things and I want to do it all, but I can’t so that’s why when I perform my music, I don’t always do the same arrangement as the tracks.

How did the idea for the EP originally start forming?

The idea I guess really started with “Breathe,” which from what I hear is everyone’s favorite song off the record, haha. I wrote “Breathe” as I was going through a panic attack and was calming myself down. After about half a year of not touching the song at all, it just dawned on me that this was what I needed to create. So I focused my energy to keep writing the story. 

Are there any overarching themes or motifs throughout it?

I think the main theme was definitely self-acceptance and growth. Every track had something to contribute to the next one and it just felt like one big journey. 

Where was it recorded, and who helped it come to life?

The whole EP was recorded in my home studio. A LOT of people helped me bring it to life. My parents’ contribution to the project was monumental for me haha, because they brought a whole new voice to it. Of course I could not have done it without everyone who played on it and everyone who lent their ear to help give feedback. I’m very grateful.

I see you are part of the BIPOC LGBTQ+ community and are trying to advocate within your art. Can you talk about how you hope to achieve this, and what messages you’re trying to get out there?

Well I think at this point it’s really by just creating and telling my story that I can advocate. I can’t speak on everyone’s experience, but I can speak on my own. We need accessibility and visibility for Queer BIPOC arists. Full Stop. The intersection of my identity has definitely taken space in my art, but also my art is tied to my experiences as a human being.

The entertainment industry would not be what it is today without the contributions of the Queer Black, Indegenous, and People of Color. I will continue to create space and opportunities for my community and my message is that everyone (entertainment agencies) should be doing the same. 

Who is someone you would love to collaborate with on a future project? How about tour with?

I would absolutely love to collaborate/tour with Lianne La Havas, Hiatus Kaiyote, Charlotte Dos Santos, Joy Crookes, and Moonchild.

Speaking of touring: do you have any gigs lined up fans can look forward to? Any that particularly excite you if so?

I’m doing plenty of local shows in LA! I’m just really happy to be performing again. It’s been too long. If you’re in LA, keep an eye on my IG for show dates!

Where do you realistically hope to see your music career in five years?

Hmm. International tour, some festival dates, and still kicking it. I’m gonna be even more around than I am now, that’s for sure haha.

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