From tastemaker to hitmaker.
For years, Swedish songstress Sophia Somajo has been writing the Billboard #1 Singles that you've most likely been bumping on your speakers alongside superstar pop producer Max Martin. Somajo opted to work under several pseudonyms, keeping her contributions under the radar and releasing her own music independently. Somajo is diehard DIY, from art-directing her own shoots to producing and recording her own music. This quintessential musician, for so long a secret weapon, has finally made her way to the foreground. She just released a new record called Freudian Slip; think of Somajo as a darker, more pessimistic Sia, with a voice that can break you and make you soar in the same beat. Don't sleep on this up-and-coming badass singer; she has her aim for the top of the charts, and won't settle for anything less.
Popdust caught up with Somajo to talk about her past lurking in the shadows of the music industry, her bold step forward, and dreams of collaborating with performance artists, legendary poets, and Kendrick Lamar.
Sophia Somajos 'Freudian Slip' album coverPurple Bite
After doing everything yourself for years, why opt to bring in external producers to work on the record?
It kind of just happened organically. Per Eklund (Klein Blue, Amphetamine & The Last Summer) sent me an early version of the track for Klein Blue and I wrote the song in a few minutes. Then I just asked for more, and in the process other friends dropped in. All of the producers are personal friends that I've known for years.
You've been in the industry a long time writing alongside tastemakers like Max Martin under pseudonyms. Why opt to remain low-key, and what was it like to craft hits?
I think I just want to separate the two worlds. I don't want any "free ride" or exposure because of other people's names and success. I want to pave my own way and I am in no hurry. It's important that my own music speaks for itself.
Writing for other artists is always fun and creative in a different way. It's almost like I use a different part of the brain for that. Not less creative but definitely more intentional.`
When I first heard your music, my mind immediately turned to Sia, albeit a more languid, badass version; I'm wondering who your influences are, if any.
Wow, thank you. I think Sia has the best voice out there.I must admit that I'm not very influenced by other music nowadays… I'm music more inspired by other mediums.. Film, art… but mostly real life shit you know. Broken heart syndrome is the best art-maker.
Why name the record Freudian Slip?
The songs came to me very subconsciously. They sort of wrote themselves and most of them were improvised on the spot. So what they talk about was as much a surprise to myself. I just said whatever came out and in retrospect I found myself to have been more truthful and profound about my personal state than I could have ever been intentionally. We get so much in the way of ourself when we are actively aware. Listening back to what I had recorded was almost like analyzing a dream. A direct message from the depths of my mind. Very cathartic.
What was your craziest experience in the studio while making this album?
Well I was lying on my back on the floor while recording the verses for "Smoke". (Just like Sly & The Silverstone…) and at one point I kind of dropped the mic on my lip and split it open. It hurt like fuck but I thought "rock n' roll" and continued. Btw. Being that my bedroom is my "studio", a lot of crazy shit has happened in there…
How have you grown sonically since your first two self-released albums?
Oh "Sonically" is my favorite word in the world! ..uhm… I mean I have learnt a few things against my will I guess… Like producing, editing vocals.. Technical stuff. I don't really believe in knowing how to do things properly in anything creative. When you know what you're doing all you can do is right or wrong. Art comes from mistakes.But I hope I have grown as a person and with that managed to get noise out that is as authentic to myself as possible.
Who is your dream collaboration?
Marina Abramović, Patti Smith & Kendrick Lamar.
As this project continues to grow, where do you hope to take it?
…back to the future?
E.R. Pulgar is a music writer, poet, photographer, and once cried reading Virginia Woolf. Follow him on Twitter.