- Amadou & Mariam
- Antoine Leonpaul
- Baaba Maal
- Babe Terror
- Boston Bun
- Busy P
- Carte Blanche
- Catherine Ringer
- Charlotte Gainsbourg
- Christine and The Queens
- Connan Mockasin
- Daft Punk's Electroma
- Daniel Avery
- Denai Moore
- DJ Mehdi
- DJ Pone
- Django Django
- Duck Sauce
- Duke Dumont
- Ed Rec
- Electric Guest
- Erol Alkan
- Fabrice Luchini
- Fredo Viola
- Gentlemen Drivers
- Hanni El Khatib
- Jarvis Cocker
- JJ Cale
- John Butler Trio
- Kap Bambino
- Keny Arkana
- Keziah Jones
- Krazy Baldhead
- La Phaze
- Late of The Pier
- Laza Morgan
- Les Fils Du Calvaire
- Les Rita Mitsouko
- Little Dragon
- London Grammar
- Major Lazer
- Manu Chao
- Mauro Gioia
- Mickey Moonlight
- Mind Enterprises
- Mr Oizo
- Nick Waterhouse
- Nortec Collective
- Pascal Comelade
- Pete Yorn
- Plaza Francia
- Rodrigo Y Gabriela
- Selah Sue
- Seun Kuti
- Stephane Pompougnac
- Super Social Jeez
- Syd Matters
- Tom Tom Club
- We Were Evergreen
“When people ask me what kind of music I do," says Soko, “I usually tell them - Punk secrets". Going from intimate, lo-fi, delicate, soft-spoken whispers, to rage filled screams-- Soko takes you on emotional roller coaster causing throat lodged emotions between laughter and sobbing.
The young Frenchwoman's songs have already touched people around the world, earning her a massive global following. At one mega-gig in Australia, she had 15,000 people singing along with her. From a stockpile of over 100 songs, she has now finally whittled down to a selection of 15, her debut album.
Aptly entitled 'I Thought I Was An Alien', it's full of love and loss and worry and fear of not belonging to this world – the kind of fundamental, life-dictating human feelings, which are so far beyond rational explanation. Like one of her heroes, Daniel Johnston, however, Soko has the rare ability to sing openly about those feelings, in a way which is utterly compelling, sometimes devastating, but also, completely uplifting. “Most of what I do is crying on my guitar," she says.
“Why it took me so long to make my album?" she ponders. “It's because I'm a control freak. I wanted to feel totally independent in my music. I wouldn't've been able to release anything before I was sure I could produce myself, and I can play every single instrument, except strings and horns, and control every part that's on the record, and know that I've chosen everything myself, or I've played it myself, or I made the arrangement for it." Soko started out with just her voice, her acoustic guitar, and her beloved GarageBand.
After moving to Paris, her early demoes were picked up by radio stations in Denmark, Belgium and Australia, creating too much of a buzz, without her own consent. In 2007, her music was used in a Stella McCartney show in Paris. Soko played gigs with Daniel Johnston, MIA, Babyshambles, Adam Green, Jeffrey Lewis, Seasick Steve and many others. Her shows are mostly performed without a set list, she hides behind her hair, she prefers minimal lighting, and silence while playing, creating an intimate and personal setting for her to pour herself into. Like many prolific minds she is driven on emotions alone, causing neurosis to only cease while performing.
Feeling under pressure, perhaps, she went from home studio recording to trying to record her songs in a proper studio, working with producers who would hire session musicians to play the other instruments. “It made my songs sound way, way too produced," she says with a shudder of disapproval. “All my friends were telling me, 'It doesn't sound like you, it doesn't feel like you're telling me a secret anymore, and that it's just to me.' Just to hear that, and acknowledge that, everything made much more sense. How I was looking at making music after that – I wanted people to feel like they're in the room with me when I sing, like I'm singing right in their ears."
In 2008, Soko moved to Los Angeles. Amassing more recorded versions out there, she soon realised she needed someone to help her sift through it all, and make sense of everything she'd created. Losing quite a few months to dead-end offers, in late 2010 she was eventually introduced to Fritz Michaud, who had her instant admiration, having worked on the late Elliott Smith's final album, 'From A Basement On The Hill', which is one of her favourite albums.
“So I worked with Fritz every day for eight months, just with his laptop and a pair of speakers, and that's how we finished it. We were basically fucking around with a lot of songs, speeding them up, slowing them down, changing the key, making sure they were as lo-fi as they were originally recorded, and as intimate as possible, and that everything that's there is supposed to be there. Sometimes, we'd use a deck of Brian Eno's 'Oblique Strategies' cards to find our way out of an issue and move on, to help us remember that, 'Where there's a will, there's a way'. Other times, I'd be at the studio all day, then go home at night, and record a whole new song on GarageBand, and the next morning I'd come back and say, 'I just wrote a new song, we're working on this today!'"
Like many of her songs, though, it was written as a message, to a specific person. “When I write," she says, “I don't write for the purpose of putting another song on my album, I usually write a song for someone, like a musical letter, as my way to communicate with them – I'll write it, record it, and five minutes later send it to that person. It's like making a present that means something. I don't think I ever wrote a song for no-one. Maybe I could censor myself more, but I don't think I could do anything else but something that's raw and purely honest."
So, 'I Just Want To Make It New With You' was actually written for Soko's then boyfriend, “like the song he might've written for me". She says she writes best and most prolifically, when she has a muse in her life. Alex Ebert, from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, was apparently one of them, and it was he who helped her arrive at the albums's exquisitely muted sound.
Having asserted her control over her music, Soko realised that rules are made to be broken, and allowed others – close friends, this time – to add their expertise, “When I needed a new take on something. Stella [Mozgawa] (the genious drummer of Warpaint) came and added some magic. I said, 'Can you play some weird guitar solo in a hooky Television style?' She came up with that and we would write the harmony to that, so it was very collaborative. Likewise, she called in her friend Indiana from Australia to provide string parts on 'We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow'. “She came over and I knew exactly what I wanted it to sound like – like crying/singing whales."
The air of mortal tragedy in Soko's songs comes from an anxious fear of death. The backbone of her melancholic mind is rooted from the trauma of the death of her father at the tender age of five--which led to an early awareness of loss and pain and translated into her immortalizing her experiences through songs. So, 'We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow' is like an urge to live my life now, to make sure that I do the right thing, that I'm the best of myself every day, even if most of the time I'm not – I'm just trying to be. 'I've Been Alone Too Long' – that's definitely a Dad's death song, too."
Completely consumed in her brutally honest emotional search for the meaning in life, music became the vital key in her survival. Her lonely, shy and anti-social tendencies are interwoven with the cosmic-romantic dreamer making her lyrics simple and relatable without lacking depth.
On 'Treat Your Woman', her voice is breathless, as if she's been sobbing for hours beforehand – maybe she had, such is the heartbreaking sense of betrayal in her words. The listener never has to suspend disbelief, you never doubt for one instant that Soko's pain is real. She's had a fan come up to her after a show, saying that they'd come off heroin, after hearing her tortuous, in-love-with-an-addict number, 'For Marlon'. Her songs literally change lives.
When she sings of a rootless existence, always sadly moving on with her suitcase and her guitar, you know that this is her existence – and it really is. “I'm just a homeless gypsy couch-surfer citizen of the world, depending on the love and charity of my friends," she giggles.
Soko emerges from five years of self-induced isolation with an album that speaks of wisdom, death, strength and the tenderness of youth. "I thought I was an Alien" is a proclamation of the trials and tears that line the lonely, broken-hearted streets of her soul. Like any artist in creative overdrive, Soko talks excitedly about her next album, her newborn songs as if she had already started a new chapter.
The DIY artist not only performs music, but is also an established actor, director and writer. She is an avid animal rights activist.
Check out SoKo's new video "Destruction Of The Disgusting Ugly Hate"
Check out SoKo's new video "We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow" self-directed !
Check out SoKo's acoustic session in the Californian desert !
SoKo's single "I Thought I Was An Alien" is in EDF 's new advert
Watch SoKo's acoustic session for Another Magazine
SoKo's first album "I Thought I Was An Alien" is out today !
Listen to SoKo 's debut album on Stereogum!
SoKo playing "I've Been Alone Too Long" for the Le Hiboo !
SoKo's new video is online !
Check out SoKo's new video "YOU Have A Power On ME" !
Check out SoKo's latest playlist !
SoKo's new single ' I Thought I Was An Alien '
SoKo 's new video 'I Tought I Was An Alien' is now online !
SoKo's playlist !
New Soko video 'I've Been Alone Too Long'
New Soko video ' No More Home, No More Love'
Soko will be playing live in Paris at the 'Days Off' festival in July !