Interview with Shima by Hannah Richards (photographer)
H. What inspires you to create the type of music you do? What kind of musical genres do you identify with?
H. Do you compose your work in advance or do you improvise when you get on stage?
H. What meaning does your work hold?
S. As pure music is probably the most abstract of art forms it can hold several “meanings” and I tend to not use words (or too many words) to keep it abstract. As soon as you put in lyrics you engage the mind and thought, and by leaving words out you let the music communicate. So my music, hopefully, invites the listener in to contribute their “meaning” or imagery.
Having said all that, my music does have meaning for me, and some of it is very personal, while other pieces are almost political (I really do not like politics) and some spiritual. My second album “Tender Loving Rage” is about relationships for example and the third album “LIGHT” is about the spiritual journey. So each album I create is a concept album in its entirety, but I have noticed that listeners contribute their own concepts as well and often they are more interesting than mine.
H. When you put your music to images for your music videos what do you consider?
On the track “Monkeys Will Never Talk” I used footage of a 1950s psychological experiment on monkeys that was trying to prove that love and nurture was a stronger impulse than eating for survival. The experiments were terribly flawed of course, but the film certainly conveyed the sadness of these little monkeys and the excitement of the psychologists. My music conveys both of those emotions and some people find it hard to watch it, which is also interesting, as perhaps my version of this film is more difficult to watch than the original which has a narration to it.
S. Finding the right footage is challenging and a lot of fun. I end up watching some really crazy stuff from all over the place in search of something that is going to fit the music. I have been using found footage because it is inspiring in itself and offers up new and fresh ideas that I would not have thought of. For example I found this film of Japanese industry in the 1960s and thought it was just fantastic and I really wanted to use it, so I looked for which track of mine would fit this best and it ended up being “Somewhere Else” which is off my first album. And then, when I was putting this together, it highlighted for me just how oriental that piece of music sounded, which I had not particularly noticed before.
I work in the other direction more often however, which is I have some kind of concept in mind of what video (or still images) would go with the music. “Religion In the Jungle” was almost obvious–I had to get religious images and chose footage from several sources which shows religious rites, not in the jungle, but in churches in the modern world. The concrete jungle if you like. This had the effect of creating something really quite weird and incongruous; disturbing and at the same time, a little bit funny.
Some of these take a bit of editing to really get the rhythm of the music and images working together and one of the most difficult was “Morningland” because it is a short piece of music and I was using footage from a long documentary about Egypt. Getting just the right images and editing at the right points was difficult, although it looks very simple in the end product.
What I have noticed as a result of pointing these films and images to my music is that people better understand the music when they have a visual reference. We live in an audio-visual age and people “get it” when both are provided. This is interesting–I mean Mozart didn’t need MTV or Youtube, but today he would.