We meet Producer/Singer/Songwriter, SOHN to investigate more about his minimalist electronica and his ascent into success.
2013 has seen a prevalent amount of ‘bedroom producers’ accelerate from small blogs into global sensations with the majority of them fading just as rapidly.
Vienna resident SOHN is an exception to that rule, with his popularity developing from small-time blog sensation into an actual musician. His enigmatic vocals teamed alongside sparse, soulfully produced harmonies are delicate as they are honest. Relocating to Vienna from his hometown of London, his craft is honed and he returns back to home turf in November to play a select few dates as part of his European and US live dates.
Can you remember what age you picked up your first instrument, wrote a song or began to sing?
I always sang I guess – and I started to play guitar when I was 6 or 7 years old. I remember starting to pick out how to play songs that were on the radio from a very young age, and this progressed through my school years to messing about on piano and drums in my lunch breaks. I didn’t sing a note through my teenage years, preferring to be out of the spotlight, which is I guess where the production side started.
You grew up in London. How has the city shaped you, if at all, with your musical direction?
It shapes every musician who has lived there, I guess. From the naïve angle of thinking if you play a show, some label executive would be there, to the sheer competition and number of other bands who’d bite your arm off to play in your spot. I’ve come to regard both of those elements as neither good nor bad.
You now reside in Vienna? How does it compare to London and what was the decision to relocate?
It’s a huge change in both positive and negative senses – it’s much less cut-throat and fast-paced than London, which again is a delicate balance when you’ve come from there. In some way comfort breeds creative laziness, but a relaxed mind also gives you space for a kind of creative purity. I think that is the biggest influence on me right now. If I feel I’m being creatively lazy or uninspired, I jump right back on a plane to London.
What inspires you to write and where do you find the best place to put pen to paper?
I write my best melodies and musical movements on the move and hum them into my phone, the rest of it I do 70% in my home studio, then I’ll finish it off in a shared studio I use here in Vienna.
Give us a brief summary of a ‘Day In Your Life’?
Wake up, coffee, speak to my manager 25 times a day, try to be creative, end up concentrating on something else. I’d say successful creative days work about 20% of the time… Of course now there’s lots of travelling, and lots of production work with other artists, which is a great way to channel a different kind of creative energy than the kind that I need for my own stuff.
Tell us a little bit more about the new single ‘Lessons’.
It’s a bit of a journey – to me it’s like the musical embodiment of that sick feeling you get in your stomach when something has gone horribly wrong, and at the end it’s like there is a moment of calm clarity, before the heartache kicks in again. By the end of the track I wanted to give the feeling that there was a conclusion, that you’re out of that bad situation, but it left scars.
You kick off your tour in November. Are there any places that you’re looking forward to seeing?
I do, and they’re my first headline shows, which will be intimidating and exciting… My last Berlin show was amazing so I’ll look forward to that, I love Paris but only get a day there, have a few days in London where I’m sure I’ll end up working on something, and I’m really looking forward to playing in the States. Most of my listeners are there so it’ll be interesting to see how that translates to live audiences – I’ll stay in LA for a little while too, so I’m incredibly excited about that.
What can we expect from your live shows?
Like the songs themselves, the show is a bit of a journey. I think it’s surprised people a bit, in that although the music is quite chilled, the live sound rushes over you like a wave. I’d like think the shows are quite introspective and magical for the audience, as they are for me.
Listen to ‘Lessons’ here: http://www.soundcloud.com/sohnmusic/lessons
Words: Shane Hawkins