I met SOPHIE during SXSW and chatted with him briefly. He gave me his business card (in pink plastic, from a suitcase filled with cards and a single piece of music equipment) and promised to answer my questions via email. Here is the resulting conversation. It’s not a typical interview because I’m a huge SOPHIE fan and asked questions based mainly on my own curiosity. He didn’t answer all of my questions and some answers are oblique, but fans will find a lot of interesting and exciting information here. Many of my questions were long and rambling, so I’ve edited those for length, but I left the answers as they were written (apart from formatting changes and removing a few instances of my own name).
F: I’ll just get this out of the way first, obviously everyone wants to know about releases… What’s being released next, when, etc…?
SOPHIE: Well this is a difficult one. Firstly a few songwriting/production bits… The Liz “When I Rule The World” track is coming next week, the Namie Amuro ft. Hatsune Miku track “B Who I Want 2 B” is out also this month I think, and also I believe “Bitch I’m Madonna” is being released as a single this month too. So hopefully those few bits can provide a bit of a buffer before the next Sophie release.
I always agreed with Numbers to produce 8 tracks for them, spread over 4 A/B side records. I have released 4 tracks so far, so the next 4 will be coming over this summer together.
The tracks will be some of the ones I’ve been playing in the show for the past year plus one other.
They will then all be released together as an 8 track collection.
F: When we talked in person I asked about the track people were calling “Physical,” which we’ve since learned is “B Who I Want 2 B.” Are there any more song titles you’d like to share? There’s been confusion over a song you’ve been playing being called Kitty Cat vs. Cutie Pie. I also think people from the PC Music forum would love titles for the three songs from your Rinse FM mix.
SOPHIE: That’s right.
Kitty Cat is the name of one…
Good Good Thing Going On
The Way I Am
Somebody Like You??
F: When we met you told me you were working on Ultraviolet/UV Love with Richard X, who I had never heard of before. Is there anyone else you’re working with whose names you can share? What are you working on with them?
SOPHIE: Yes… UV Love… A lot of these will come out soon and in a way I think you’ll be really happy with! I’m excited about that…
F: You talked about potentially redoing the vocals on UV Love. During SXSW I also noticed some changes to the lyrics of Rule the World. Specifically the change from “then imma make you sweat” to “then I’m gonna make you sweat” really threw me off because I kept singing along and being wrong. Are there any other unreleased songs (especially from Boiler Room) that fans should not get too attached to the unreleased versions of?
SOPHIE: Yes — that was a demo vocal by Liz where she changed one of the words but I didn’t like it quite as much so for the final version we changed it back to “I’m gonna make you sweat.” I thought that had a better rhythmical flow.
F: A lot of the reporting on you has been IMO very bad. Are there any questions you’re tired of hearing? Any misconceptions you’d like to correct? Questions people haven’t been asking that they should? Does it bother you when journalists refer to you as part of PC Music?
SOPHIE: No, it doesn’t bother me… The PC connection. I think misinformation is a natural side effect of not giving away too much. I think it sort of has a neutralizing effect where some people won’t engage with it at all and some people will be attracted to it.
I think the questions that I feel most excited about answering have to do with actually creating music… Songwriting, sound design, production, collaboration etc. So I’ll hopefully be doing a few more techy interviews at some point.
Anything regarding the future is of course interesting too. What music can become and how it can be delivered to people.
F: I really liked the questions you asked Kyary Pamyu Pamyu about the scariest sound & cutest sound. What would your answers be to that question? My scariest/most horrifying sound is definitely the wet crunch that happens when you step on a snail. Cutest sound is more difficult because there are more sounds trying to be cute than scary… Maybe a child making animal noises.
SOPHIE: Yes… I’m very interested in trying to access the immediacy of sound. Divorcing physical sound from its musical and cultural connotations. I really see it happening when for example you go to hear a band like Autechre play. People start screaming purely from the joy of experiencing sound… Sensory pleasure.
F: I like your cards a lot. Who makes them?
SOPHIE: Plastic cards in UK… Their slogan is “We make your plastic card dreams come true,” or something and I held them to that. http://conceptcard.co.uk
The pink plastic business card and a can of QT Energy Elixir
"Taking a study break to play with my #sxsw souvenirs... I really like how they reflect each other ✨"
F: Is your website intentionally hard to read? What’s the deal with all caps?
SOPHIE: Hey I apologize for that… I just prefer the way letters look in CAPS…I am updating my website in a sec actually!
F: “Flowers and petals, higher and higher and higher” — what’s the deal with this song? Is that one of yours? Does it have a name?
SOPHIE: This was made as a birthday song for me by AG Cook. It’s about one day when we first went on a car journey together and some bikers got angry with us… It’s so good, right? QT loves it so we listen to it together sometimes.
F: I want to talk about your live shows. I’ve gotten to see your show maybe 3 or 4 times. My least favorite experience at your live show was at the PC Music showcase at Empire, when the crowd went so hard that I didn’t feel safe. People, especially the men, were moshing more than dancing, and I got pushed around a lot. I don’t know how you felt about the energy of that crowd, and I can see how it would be fun as a performer to see that kind of intense reaction, but it was not fun from my perspective. You’ve repeatedly written/spoken about wanting to create the most intense live experience possible and I love that idea so much but I think there’s a fine line between an intensely overwhelming, positive experience and having a terrible time. Along these lines, I think the strobe lights at your shows are a bit much.
SOPHIE: Thanks, I will look into this. I know what you mean with regards to feeling unsafe and pushing and mashing etc. It reminds me of the first music festival I went to when I was about 9 and I felt really unsafe because my brother and I had got right to the front and everyone was a lot bigger than us, so my dad had to put his arms on either side of us to protect us from getting crushed. It was scary and I certainly wouldn’t want people to feel that way at any of my or my friend’s concerts.
I want to develop the show a lot more in terms of lighting and visuals and have a very specific idea of what exactly I want, but these things take a long time and a lot of investment to get right. I think the strobing is probably a bit overused at the moment because I haven’t been able to produce the other elements exactly how I want yet. I will bear this in mind. Thank you.
F: I hope you don’t mind me talking about the things I didn’t like. My experience with your music has been amazing overall and it’s so much fun on the PC Music forum!
SOPHIE: Thank you. We really value having you as a fan and I really appreciate the support of you and others on the forum! It’s so motivating and keeps me on my toes. I hope that we can continue to make things that you enjoy.