Israeli, American hard rock solo artist, SIMA, is gearing up for the release of her second full-length independent album, Runaways, which is slated to drop later this year. Her raw passion and strength put forth on this album are simply awe-inspiring.
SIMA just released the second single from the forthcoming album, which is an edgy version of Pat Benatar’s “Love Is A Battlefield.” SIMA adds her own touch to the 1983 classic, bringing attitude with gritty vocals, heavy guitar, and propulsive electronics.
SIMA first came to America with the dream of having a better life and the freedom to be herself, She now ignites rock with an incendiary spirit of her own that includes powerful messages of positivity and strength. Inspired by everyone from Massive Attack, Bjork and The Cranberries to A Perfect Circle, System of a Down, Pearl Jam, and Alanis Morissette, the Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, producer, and documentarian made her musical debut in 2009 with her single “Breaking Down The Walls,” followed by her first full-length album, This Is My Truth in 2012 and then her EP, Beautiful Liar in 2014.
Her follow-up album, Runaways, which is propelled by a soaring soundtrack of hypnotic hard rock and rousing pop, SIMA hits the ground running at full speed with fists raised, eyes open, and heart blazing. We had a chance to chat with SIMA about the upcoming new album, her passion for music, work on her documentary film, and much more! You can read our interview below.
From an artist’s perspective, tell us what it is like dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to releasing new music and the inability to tour behind it, as the whole scene has taken a change?
Yes, a lot! It is like trying to manage to do what you love but with this weird thing going on that we are currently dealing with and it’s how I’m adjusting to the reality and how can I keep creating and share my music and my passion with the world. You have to be so involved and everything needs to be calculated so completely different, you know? Your messaging … whatever you put out … how do you put it out … it was always like that, but now things are more sensitive. With Runaways, for example, I had to push the video release because I was planning to release it and then all the protests and the riots erupted and the looting and fires being started and I was like ‘oh my gosh, my song is like “burn it down to the ground”!
First of all, you want to respect what is happening in the world and I decided to hold back with the video release out of respect and as a way to acknowledge and appreciate what’s happening but at the same time, I wanted my positive and empowering message of the song to get out there. I have always dreamed of being an artist who inspires and empowers people and helps people look inside to discover their own greatness and bring it out. I love to have those empowering messages and I didn’t want it to get lost. It was a time that everyone had to stop and you have to be sensitive to that and you only have an online platform right now, so how do you utilize that platform to the maximum advantage and how do you reach people, how do you speak to people and touch people?
I think music is so important and that is why people related to Runaways so much, especially during these times because it spoke to the people and had such a powerful message … people felt like I was talking to them and I wrote the song for what’s happening with the virus and the protests and the racial injustice and police brutality, but while I didn’t write it about that particular subject … I wrote it about what’s happening in the world and the global scale, as the overall big picture and I think some people related to it so much especially the fear and uncertainties that we are all dealing with right now. People were looking for powerful songs like that to get them inspired, I think!
I agree! I think that music is something that people will always turn to in times of need, as it is truly a universal language.
Yes, it is like that one language that everyone understands. You don’t have to speak the same language for it to touch your heart. I remember songs I listened to growing up back in Israel as a kid and I felt certain things … maybe I felt love or maybe I felt trapped … but whatever it is that I felt I could listen to an artist that made me feel that something else was out there … there was something bigger out there. It is like the light at the end of the tunnel. It was amazing that these artists could understand how I was feeling and those are songs that you will remember for the rest of your life. They are timeless and you can always go back to them and they remind you of a certain time in your life. You may have felt a certain way, but they inspire you to overcome.
I love that you are not afraid to experiment with a bunch of different sounds musically, as your music is definitely hard rock, but definitely has quite a bit of pop sensibility thrown into the mix as well. I feel like no artist has to be trapped into one particular genre or another anymore, as experimenting with a variety of sounds creates something very unique.
That is how I have always seen myself as an artist. People always ask me what kind of artist that I sound like and I always have a hard time answering that question because I always saw myself as somebody who creates something new, like you said, someone who is not afraid to touch on different elements of music and sound that I love. I love the pop sound and I love the great melodies and harmonies and hooks and at the same time I love rock and I love metal music and I love electronic, as well as, Middle-Eastern influence which I grew up with so for me, it’s like how do I bring something that has all of the things that I love, but in a way that everyone can relate. I love so much as an artist that I want my music to be able to touch everyone and not just be locked into one particular genre. The sound is still pleasant to the ears and catchy, so it’s mainstream, but still very much something different … for me it is like wanting to create something that is SIMA-sound!
Can you talk about some of the major themes or threads that tie the album together during the creative process?
I started working on the album about two years ago and I was also in the process of working on my documentary film Broken Wings which is a peace documentary which is shot in Israel on the West Bank and here and covers a lot of my journey going back to my home country and exploring the Israeli conflict through new eyes as someone who has left and came back and also as an artist, using music with it, as I wrote a song that I invited a Palestinian artist to come and join me and I think the writing process of the album writing started at the same time I was also working on this documentary. I was exploring myself on a deeper level as a human being, as a woman, and as an artist and going back to everything that I left behind and making peace with a lot of things.
It’s funny … the film started with wanting to create peace in a bigger, more global way, and it kind of shrank into finding individual peace which is everything first as you have to find that peace within yourself and come to this place of loving everything that you are even with the bad stuff. Taking that journey and looking back into your life and what it became and I feel like I was going through all of these things and I was talking to so many amazing people and exploring such an amazing topic that affects all of us in the world which is peace, poverty, social injustices and circumstances like childhood and trauma and I think that working on the film and working on the album definitely has this deep sense of exploration and evolution and revolution and finding that strength and power within myself as an artist and as a person, like coming to America so young I had no one to guide me throughout my journey and my life, so I feel like coming to this place was so empowering as a woman. I created this life and I did it on my own and it’s an empowering place to be in and I want to share my journey with others.
I think every song on the record explores another element of who I am as an artist and a person and a woman. There may be a love song talking about relationships and talking about all kinds of stuff that affected me in my life, so I think the biggest theme is one of both empowerment and inspiration and sharing my journey with others.
Your story is truly an inspiration. What are your plans for releasing the documentary film?
I have been working on the film for five years and at first, I didn’t know how challenging it would be and I wrote two of the songs for the film and I was producing it, directing it and writing music for it and executive producing it too, as well as, funding and traveling back and forth, so I took on a huge, huge, huge project. It is my journey and when I took it on I didn’t realize just how crazy it would be but I think sometimes when you jump into something without thinking too much I think it can be better because you are encouraged to do it and you are not scared you are not thinking about all you have to do and what can happen.
I feel like with the film, I was doing the final editing right before COVID came and when the virus took over we had to stop with the editing because of everything that was happening, but I’m hoping I can start back in the next month or two when hopefully everything will begin to calm down a bit. We got to the point of almost being there and had all the hard stuff out of the way and we had started putting the film together, so I am hoping the final editing will be complete by next year and we will have the film ready for release. It is a super powerful film and people will get to see my story a little bit more and where I come from and also the people in the film that you don’t get to see every day and hear stories that you don’t get to hear and see the whole process of working on the Broken Wings song. I can’t wait to finish it, as with the record and everything that’s happened I’ve had to take it one step at a time and trust that everything is going to happen just the way it was supposed to happen. I have to be patient with myself and the process too!
As for the rest of 2020, none of us really knows what’s in-store, do you have plans for any live streams or virtual events, releases, etc.?
I actually recorded an acoustic live version of Runaway and people love the song so much that I wanted them to hear my voice and really hear the song and I think that stripping it down was a really smart and perfect idea because when you hear it, you understand and it’s super powerful. I also have the release of the Pat Benatar cover Love Is A Battlefield and then, of course, the release of the full record. After that hopefully, I can get back to editing the film, so I’m focusing on the record right now and finishing the film, and then hopefully I can do more acoustic stuff and more cover stuff to keep the momentum going and inspiring people with music. That is my goal.