Progressive instrumental guitarist Sithu Aye is one of the Glasgow music scenes best kept secrets. With the release of his “Senpai EP” last year, which featured catchy flowing guitar melodies, backed by lush and dynamic anime and J-pop inspired compositions. The EP very quickly became one of my favourite releases of last year. Later on in the year he is also headed out on a Japanese tour with Protest the Hero as well. Sithu was kind enough to do an interview for me and this is what came of it.
So first off who are you for people who haven’t heard of you?
My name is Sithu and I write and record progressive metal music, mostly based around solo guitar. I’ve released 2 full length albums and 4 EPs to date.
What made you want to be a guitarist, who would you call your primary influences and the impact they’ve had on you as a player?
I never really had any great desire to be a guitarist and it was one of the instruments that I got a taste of when I started high school. For whatever reason, I could never drop the guitar after I picked it up and devoted a lot of my time to learning all I could about the instrument. In terms of my influences, when I started out it was guys like John Frusciante and Jimi Hendrix and later down the line, probably some of my more important influences of my style now are players like John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert and Guthrie Govan. They’ve sort out smashed the initial glass ceiling I had about what was possible on the instrument, and it expanded my horizons as a player. And players like Guthrie really push the melodic side of my playing. He really wants me to be able to improvise solos and make them sound like I spent several hours crafting them.
What was the Main inspiration behind writing of The Senpai EP?
Probably my inability to tell that it was a really stupid idea! In all seriousness, I’ve always been a fan of anime but there was never intention for any of that to spill over into my music, until I did a tone test for my new guitar and Axe-FX II based on an anime opening theme song and made a youtube video for it. That happened to become one of my most watched videos and that seed for the idea kind of started then. And even though a lot of my friends told me it was a stupid idea, they told me to do it anyway.
Were there any Specific anime or soundtracks which influenced the writing process of the ep?
Not any specific ones, it was mainly based on the idea of anime tropes. One of the reasons anime is so easy to parody (even within anime itself) is its constant use of tropes and I wanted to parody those myself with Senpai EP. Musically, it’s probably just a mish mash of the dozens of anime theme songs and anime music I have heard.
What anime are you watching right now ?
What anime am I not watching might be a better question! I’ve gotten to the point where I actually watch the animes as they come out from Japan so I’m following the current winter season. Favourites from last year include One Punch Man, Hibike! Euphonium and Shirobako. There are probably dozens I’m forgetting about too!
How did the Japan tour with protest the hero come about?
You may know of a friend of mine by the name of Plini, who toured with Cynic last August. It’s pretty much the same arrangement as that! The singer of Cyclamen Hayato, who’s also a good friend of mine, asked me if I was interested given that I had a bit of a following over in Japan. And of course, you don’t say no to touring with Protest! And I released Senpai EP before we announced the tour, so it was definitely one of those happy accidents!
How are you feeling about going on tour to Japan?
It’s kind of surreal to be honest. Going on tour with a band like Protest the Hero is something I never imagined I would get to do, never mind in a place like Japan! And I’ve always wanted to go to Japan, so it’s ticking a lot of things on my bucket list. Japanese culture is so different to western culture as well, so it’ll be really interesting to immerse myself in it.
Do you have any plans to do some UK shows this year?
There are a few plans, but nothing I can confirm at the moment. I’ll probably get a better idea of what’s going on a bit later in the year.
Whats on the Horizon for you after the Japan tour?
Well, before the Japan tour I plan to release a new album – a double album in fact! I’m really proud of some of the stuff I have written on it and I think it’ll surprise people. And after Japan, hopefully a few more gigs and Senpai EP II!
Anything else, you want to say for the interview?
Just a huge thanks to anybody reading if you’ve supported me in my musical endeavours and to those who have not heard my music, hopefully you’ll give it a chance!
Hope to see some of you guys on the road this year too!
You can listen to an buy all of Sithu Ayes releases on his Bandcamp page https://sithuayemusic.bandcamp.com/
and get merch and physical copies from his Big Cartel page
Give him a Like on facebook aswell