Photos and Interview by Jordan Edwards
Over the past few years, Sorana has built an impressive songwriting career, with credits including The Chainsmokers, Bebe Rexha, and Charli XCX. Now she's focusing on her own music. Her debut single (and David Guetta collab) redruM, landed in January. Now we get her first solo single, "Karoake." An epic heartbreaker ready for arenas, the track explores the idea of singing karaoke to get over a breakup.
We talked to Sorana about the song and its stunning video, and what it's been like to start her solo career.
“Karaoke” is sad but empowering. I can imagine the crowd singing it back to you. How did you find the right sound and vibe for this track?
The story of "Karaoke" is very personal to me. I used to go to an old wooden Karaoke bar every night and sing with my friends. I sang for my heartbreak, which I find very powerful and vulnerable at the same time. I sang to get over my shyness too. When producing the track, I wanted it to be as stripped as possible so the song could shine as someone shines when they open up and sing about their emotions. I wanted it to feel old school and have raw instruments. A lot of producers tried until Ali Payami captured the vibe I was looking for.
What was it like working with Ali Payami?
It’s always amazing to work with talented people that share your vision. When I heard his first demo, I thought, "Yes, finally someone understands what I’m trying to say."
The music video features multiple versions of yourself. What was behind that concept and what was it like to film?
The video shows a different layer of the story than the lyrics. Growing up, I used to be really shy, and I would cry if somebody walked in my room while I was singing. Later, I started going to karaoke not to have fun with my friends, but to force myself to get over my shyness. Each character in the video represents a different emotion I was going through while being on that karaoke stage. I felt everything from shy and crying because I didn’t think I was good enough, and getting tipsy just built my courage up to absolute confidence and excitement. NGM creative made filming this video an amazing experience and brought my vision to life. We rehearsed every movement and emotion of each character for weeks. We filmed using this cool robot called Bolt that allowed us to put each version of myself in the same frame. It was hard and rewarding.
What songs did you like to sing, and do you still find time for karaoke?
I loved to sing "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles, "Stepping Stone" and "Warwick Avenue" by Duffy, "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O’Connor, and many more sad songs. I always feel bittersweet when it comes to karaoke, as it reminds me of my first heartbreak.
When your songwriting career was taking off, did you ever feel like your solo music was being neglected?
I never felt like my solo career was neglected because I never neglected it. Being a singer was always my main motivation for writing songs, but I feel proud to have written songs for amazing artists like The Chainsmokers, Charli XCX, David Guetta, and more.
At what point did you realize that music could be your career?
I never had to realize. I always knew. I have a very powerful intuition, and I knew I was going to be a singer ever since I became aware of my existence. Growing up, my friends and even my family would tell me that it’s just a dream, especially because no one really escapes Romania to make pop music in the UK and USA, but I always knew my dream would come true.
You have such a unique aesthetic. Who do you look up to in terms of style?
My inspiration for my look was always Sailor Moon. That’s where I got the idea for the super long pigtails. I don’t only love the cartoon for the aesthetic, but also because it’s all about girl energy and girls with superpowers sticking together. I kind of manifested that in my high school girl group. Me and my six best friends were always together, up to no good, and always on an adventure. I’ve always loved to live in my fantasies.
You’re mostly known as a pop singer-songwriter. Are there other genres you’d like to explore?
I don’t think of songs in genres. I love great songs with big choruses whether vocal or instrumental, hooks and memorable lyrics. But those could be wrapped in any type of instrumental. If it’s good, it’s good. Right now, I’m loving guitars and raw instrumentals with old school sounds.
What have you been listening to lately?
Lately I’ve been listening to Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, old rock songs like "Nothing Compares 2 U," "Zombie" by the Cranberries, the Pixies.
Sorana - Karaoke (Official Video) www.youtube.com