Swedish pop singer Sophia Somajo, better known as Soso, is releasing her debut album on April 6 – a whole month ahead of schedule.
This has caused some controversy, but Soso – with her a fast-paced and impulsive approach to music – feels that the album is ready. One of the songs on the record, she says, took her two hours to put together.
“I’ve had this record in my head for a year and a half,” she says. “The songs that I wrote a year and a half ago I’m already over, because they are not relevant to me anymore.”
Despite its quick construction, her latest record That Time I Dug So Deep I Ended Up In China has a lot of meaning for her.
A self-described “manic” personality, she focuses in on one subject and learns it inside and out. She was obsessed with all things China for a time, which she says is reflected in the style of the record. “This one time [my dad] bought me this Chinese pop music on a cassette,” Soso recalls. “I carried it everywhere. I found it again two years ago and bought a cassette player to listen to it. The melodies are so foreign and so inspiring I decided to base the album on it.”
Her upbringing also had an effect on the development of her musical style. Growing up, her father introduced her to the world of rock ‘n roll with bands like Black Sabbath while her mother pushed the pop mega stars like Prince. Eventually, Soso says, she grew to dislike both in her teenage years, causing her to delve into hip-hop. This musical mash-up caused Soso to find her own style.
The record’s title, too, comes from her childhood, from memories of digging in the in the dirt looking for “cat gold” (a type of blue clay) and her mother’s warning that if she dug too deep she would end up in China.
“My own music is very autobiographical,” she says. “It always comes out like a diary. I literally come up with the lyrics as I record. It’s basically my life and what I’m experiencing. I have a lot of songs where I tell people stuff that I wouldn’t have the balls to say in person.”
She produced, wrote, and edited the album from her home in Sweden.
“It probably limits me because it will not sound as clean,” she admits. “For this record I have a microphone and a mini keyboard. I think that for me having no help or tools kind of forces me to be creative. … I’m so happy that I found a way to make myself 100% independent to make a record.”
For a woman who seems to know music making inside and out, she admits that she is somewhat limited: she can’t read music. She says that sometimes it can be more challenging to get her ideas down on paper, but there is no right or wrong way to make music.
“I’m very much into machines,” she says. “I don’t even really like to have a live band. I’m into pushing buttons. I couldn’t play an instrument on stage, I just couldn’t identify with that,” explains Soso.
More than anything, she embraces this as a creative advantage: “If you have no idea what the hell you are doing anything can happen,” she says. “It’s not my ambition to make things that are well done, I think that’s boring.”
As a result, Soso admits that she cannot classify her music into a specific genre. “Even calling it my music makes me feel uncomfortable,” she says. “I can explain it for hours but never classify it.”
Her do-it-yourself approach extends beyond the record itself. After releasing a music video for her single “Who’s Gonna Love Me,” she filmed one for Cody ChestnuTT’s power pop single “My Women My Guitars.” It was filmed by her boyfriend and shot in her own bedroom – in it, she and other musicians can be seen jumping around on her bed. At the time of this interview, she was simultaneously editing a video for the project.
While she does not usually think about how people will identify with her music, she does hope that it will influence young people to find their true selves.
“I would literally be so humbled [by] anyone that listens and responds to my music,” she says.