EarPeace went to see French artist Soko (Stéphanie Sokolinski) at the world famous Troubadour in Hollywood for her November 12 show. Known for being a famous French actress who is openly straight edge, vegan and bisexual, her interests and talents are wide and varied. Her set was an eclectic mix of the idiosyncratic, earnest ballads she’s been known for such as “First Love Never Die” and riotous, post punk songs. Soko made it clear that she is musically ambidextrous, jumping around from bass, keys, guitar, and finally a solo drum performance as her encore. Fans who know her solely from her intimate, acoustic performances found on YouTube would be surprised to see what an absolutely electrifying performer she is; her performance that night was an extension of herself and was simultaneously explosive and intensely personal.
Check out our exclusive interview with her below, where she discusses everything from her favorite author to the role of yoga in her life.
EP: Can you tell us a little about the new record?
Soko: I’m recording yeah, the albums called My Dreams Dictate My Reality. It’s very different, it’s much more like new-wavey, post punk, a lot happier, not any acoustic instruments, and a lot more…it’s still deep and sad and very self-reflective, but just kind of more upbeat I guess. I just wanted to have more fun with this record.
EP: Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask you, how it might different than the last record.
Soko: Yeah, The first one kind of makes you want to commit suicide and the second…maybe not.
EP: Good description. You have a very unique style of songwriting; it’s very honest and a little bit intense…
Soko: Still there.
EP: Still there, ok.
Soko: Except, like it’s weird, like there’s more chorus and song structure, but it’s still very weird, like I add weird bars everywhere and my band is just like, “Ahhhhhh! How did you just DO that? WHY?” And I’m just like, “I don’t know…is it weird?” Like it will be like different time signatures throughout the song, like 4/4 going to 3/4 going back to 4/4. Just changing time signatures in the middle.
EP: What is your creative process like? When you’re writing a song do you spend more time focusing on the musical aspect, those time signatures and structures, or the lyrics?
Soko: Well, it’s really easy for me to answer that because it all comes at the same time. It’s always kind of like symptoms of like sickness…like kind of feeling under the weather, not wanting to be around anyone and feeling totally anti social and in my bubble and would spend like 3 nights in a row having insomnia just writing and writing and just feeling like “I really need to write about THIS particular thing in my life right now and I need to write it down so I can let it go.” And so I’d have insomnia and it would just come and be like a song in 5 minutes and the whole thing is just there, music, arrangements, guitar parts, bass, like everything, when it comes it just feels like a song already, not like a few words and a few blips and blops and it’s all kind of formed.
EP: Who are some of your favorite visual artists, directors, authors…
Soko: Well, Sylvia Plath is my favorite poet…yeah I don’t know where that comes from; just yeah whatever is around is what I’m dealing with. I live out of my suitcase so I usually just have whatever clothes I have in my suitcase and I get sent stuff and as I soon as I get new stuff I just get rid of other stuff because I just don’t have enough room to keep it.
EP: Who are you currently listening to?
Soko: I’ve been listening to a lot of Tuxedomoon, Felt, cuz my records sound kind of like 80s-ish, and I’ve been way back into all these like obscure, post punk bands, like the Slits, not that they’re obscure, and I don’t know a lot of the Smiths, early Cure, New Order, Joy Division. I love the album II by Mac DeMarco, and I’ve been listening to the second album of Unknown Mortal Orchestra a lot too. I’ve been listening to a lot of early Pulp too recently.
EP: I read that you do yoga and meditation regularly. What have you gained from these practices, and how has it affected your views on life?
Soko: Yeah every day! I think I’m very unbalanced, just because of my lifestyle I never like eat at the same time, sometimes it’s hard to find healthy food, like I never wake up and go to bed at the same time, like if I’m writing I go to bed way later. Yoga keeps me balanced and strong and feeling good in my body. I try to live a very healthy lifestyle so I can keep doing the things that matter the most because otherwise with all the travel and stuff I would just feel like shit. I eat really healthy. Also I’m like terrible at breathing and it helps a lot. And I’m just so lazy, if I didn’t go to a class I just wouldn’t exercise so at least it makes my abs strong which makes me sing better. (laughs) So cheesy.
EP: You moved to Los Angeles not too long ago-what are some of your favorite and least favorite things about it?
Soko: I love everything here. I mean I have the best friends in the world here and I love driving and that everything is like, if you drive an hour anywhere you have the mountains or the desert or the beach, like I really love the idea that you can just decide to go on a road trip and be in total different surroundings with pure air, beautiful everything around you, it’s really refreshing. When you live in a city that you can just have that. And also, there’s so many good musicians here that I get to play with and I’m so excited about that. And I need a lot of alone time so a lot of people think that in LA because everyone’s in their car whatever, I love driving so I don’t mind and I love listening to music in my car, but everyone is likes I get too lonely and depressed, I love being alone, so being alone…I always live with roommates because I don’t like being totally alone, but um I just love having quiet.
EP: What is your personal definition of success?
Soko: Just being happy and constant. As long as I can write songs and record and play shows I’m happy doing that. And if I can touch one person ever then I’m happy.
EP: If you could tell everyone in the world one thing right now what would it be?
Soko: We might be dead by tomorrow!
Featured photo credit: Lea Colombo: https://leacolombo.tumblr.com/