July 1, 2022
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LOS ANGELES — Oliver Sim was blissful to be a monster. Too blissful.

On the London set of the brief movie “Hideous,” which premiered on the Cannes Movie Pageant on Sunday, the 32-year-old musician was dwelling his fanboy fantasies of changing into a creature from a horror film.

“They have been like, ‘You must calm down your face, it’s a must to cease smiling,’” Sim just lately recalled, explaining how a make-up artist who was gluing a textured prosthetic to his brow instructed him to take it down a notch.

Sim is aware of that he doesn’t have a popularity for smiling an excessive amount of. Since he was a teen, he’s been in the xx, a band whose minimalist tackle post-punk is synonymous with moody restraint and understatement. 13 years after the group’s debut, he’s placing out his first solo album, and whereas it isn’t precisely a laugh-a-minute, it’s coated in a gloss of humor and camp. The album’s title, “Hideous Bastard,” offers a very good indication of the cheeky melodrama it accommodates.

“I believe it’s a bit extra of who I’m as a person and not one of three,” Sim stated. Each of his bandmates have launched solo music of their very own, which is simply high quality with him: “Just like the Spice Girls all had their very own id, I’d love the three of us to all have our personal identities.”

Sim’s vocals on “Hideous Bastard” are flinty and melismatic. The lyrics are wry and heartbreaking. “So much of the sense of humor may be very British,” he stated. “To me, beginning a music with ‘I’m ugly’ is hilarious.”

Oliver Sim is way from ugly in any standard sense of the phrase. He’s tall and slim, with gigantic amber-colored eyes that he says flip a bit inexperienced when he cries. On an April afternoon, he sported saggy khakis and a recent tan courtesy of a weekend watching his bandmate Jamie xx at Coachella. One thing darker lurked beneath his blue-and-white-striped button-down: a T-shirt emblazoned with “Buffalo Invoice’s Pores and skin Lotion,” an allusion to the serial killer within the movie “The Silence of the Lambs.”

“Hideous,” a mid-tempo pop music with moody and lush orchestration, opens the album, and its closing verse packs a wallop: “Been dwelling with H.I.V. since age 17, am I hideous?”

These lyrics are true. Oliver Sim has been dwelling with H.I.V. for 15 years. Many of his associates and household have been conscious of that reality, however that is the primary time he’s chosen to debate his standing in public.

“I wrote that music realizing that so much of this file needed to do with disgrace and concern and I knew I used to be dancing round one thing that causes me probably the most disgrace,” he stated.

Sim stated he was impressed by musicians like John Grant and Mykki Blanco, who make difficult and nuanced work and are additionally open about their H.I.V. optimistic standing. “For me, that is the other of disgrace,” Sim continued. “If I have been deepest in disgrace I’d have made a file not speaking about any of these things.”

When Sim first wrote “Hideous,” he performed it for his mom. “She gave me an ideal piece of recommendation,” he recalled. “She was like, ‘How about you’ve got some conversations earlier than you do that?’”

He has spent the final two years doing simply that. “It’s been arduous,” he stated utilizing an expletive. “However every one has been simpler.”

Sim additionally spent that point reaching out to different homosexual musicians, searching for each recommendation and camaraderie. “First of all, I went straight to the highest and contacted Elton,” he stated. Elton John launched him to Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters, Perfume Genius and Jimmy Somerville.

Somerville, who based the pioneering homosexual pop band Bronski Beat within the Eighties, grew to become a pen pal, then a good friend and collaborator, contributing vocals to a few tracks on Sim’s album and showing as a glittery alien within the brief movie “Hideous.”

The movie, which is about totally to tracks from Sim’s album, was directed by Yann Gonzalez, one other homosexual artist Sim reached out to throughout the pandemic. “I confessed to him that the primary time I met one of my ex-boyfriends, we have been exchanging music from the xx,” Gonzalez stated in a video interview. “So it was very emotional.”

Their correspondence led to the movie “Hideous,” a pastiche of early silent movie, Nineteen Sixties British tv, Seventies glam rock and Eighties homosexual pornography. The movie is essentially impressionistic, nevertheless it tells the story of a pop star who comes out as homosexual on reside TV. The outsized ridicule he faces from the general public actually transforms him right into a monster.

“I received to kill Jamie xx, which is one thing I’ve at all times needed to do,” Sim stated, referring to the monster’s first sufferer, performed by his bandmate. Sim speaks with nice affection for his bandmates (who he swears are humorous) however can be fond of ribbing them. “If I have been to critique the band, there hasn’t been a lot of a way of humor,” Sim stated later with a roar of laughter.

Horror has lengthy fascinated Sim, and throughout our afternoon in Pasadena he visited capturing places from one of his favourite films, “Halloween,” recreating poses as each the killer, Michael Myers, and the ultimate lady, performed by his favourite actress, Jamie Lee Curtis.

“I really feel the power,” he stated with a large smile exterior of one of the homes. He pointed to a window. “That’s the place Mike kills his sister,” he stated.

The subsequent cease was Hollywood Eternally Cemetery, a website he hadn’t visited because the xx performed a present there in 2012. Sim remembers little of that evening moreover using round in a golf cart and being star-struck by the actor January Jones. “It was a really boozy time,” stated Sim, who’s at present sober and in a 12-step program.

We walked previous a bust of Burt Reynolds that Oliver greeted as “Mr. Burt” and stepped round two headstones labeled “DADDY.” Sim used to stroll via Brompton Cemetery in London to get to main faculty. He remembers his mom warning him to not stray off the paths. As a toddler, he was unaware that the cemetery was a preferred cruising floor for males searching for nameless hookups.

At age 13 — when he had already reached his present top of 6-foot-3 however was even skinnier — Sim labored up the nerve to purchase a pint at an area homosexual bar, not realizing that it catered to “bears,” a time period for homosexual males who’re hefty and hirsute. The different patrons ignored him.

“I made that pint work for 3 hours and then had a ‘Dancing on My Own’ second,” he recalled.

As his teenage years wore on, he progressively grew to become extra snug together with his homosexual id. Then, at 17, he received the H.I.V. analysis. “It occurred at a time after I was simply beginning to be open with my sexuality,” Sim stated. “I used to be simply opening the doorways and it shut the doorways once more a bit.”

The stigma related to H.I.V. made a long-lasting affect on him. “It began to marry itself with my sexuality,” he stated. “As if intercourse itself was one thing that was damaging or harmful or shameful.”

“And I believe I needed to drag that aside, to separate these two,” he added, referring to his new album. However Sim pressured that H.I.V. is just one half of the story he’s telling on “Hideous Bastard.”

“This file isn’t about H.I.V.,” he stated. “I’m not naïve, I do know it’s going to be talked about and will probably be a defining half of it, however that’s not how I see this file. It’s about disgrace, it’s about concern and it’s celebratory.”

After the cemetery, Sim needed ice cream. His publicist knew an ideal place in Los Feliz that supplied flavors like biscuits and jam and all the things bagel. Earlier than coming into the store, Sim lit a cigarette and waxed about Jamie Lee Curtis. “I believe I needed to be her: offended and attractive,” he stated.

Sim doesn’t come throughout as offended. He additionally doesn’t come throughout as morose or withdrawn, as he has incessantly been described prior to now. In individual, he was fast to snort and simple to speak to. As we rode round Los Angeles, he dished a couple of current date, sang alongside to “Collectively Once more” by Janet Jackson and professed his love for the truth TV present “Promoting Sundown.”

“I don’t assume I’m the shy, awkward person who’s perhaps been written about or portrayed,” he stated, tapping a cigarette. The pandemic additionally made him notice that he wasn’t fairly the introvert he had at all times thought himself to be.

“I believed this was the life for me,” he stated of his time in solitude. “I noticed shortly it wasn’t.”

“I’m on this journey,” he added, “the place I noticed I like folks.”

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