Sofie, who hasn’t put out new music since July last year, gave me heads up a few months back that she was working on releasing something new soon. And she sounded very excited about it. Prior to ‘If You Don’t Stop‘, her 2021 release, she had not released any music digitally for almost two years.
I have followed Sofie’s journey as an artiste for quite some time now and have come to the realisation of the intention with which she approaches creativity. In the instant when she shared her ideas for her new release which she has titled BLUR, my interest got piqued. Progressively, We had conversations surrounding this new song, her hiatus from the music scene and other boldly interesting subject matters. This article is a result of those conversations.
Sofie has done most of her growing up in Ghana and the UK. Her love for music was discovered at a very young age. Her subsequent venture into the music industry also began at an early age. She loves to talk about her African heritage and how she views and approaches the music scene in Accra.
‘I’m from Accra, Ghana.
I’d say that I started pretty young. I feel like you know because you’ve been watching for a very long time.
My love for music started with me singing from an early age and writing poetry which led to writing original songs and wanting to perform my original music.
I’m a singer/songwriter. I wanted to get more in the scene, perform my music, and meet other artists back in Accra.
I was around the age of fifteen or sixteen when I started.
I started reaching out to people to try and get the opportunity to perform and would message anyone and everyone. For example, Alliance Française.
I made sure to look out and search for pop up shows/gigs.
That’s how I started trying to get into the scene in Accra.
I haven’t visited the neighbouring countries yet. That’s something I want to do – visit countries like Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire.
It’s been interesting navigating the musical landscape in Ghana.
It has definitely shifted since I started.
I feel like there’s more space now for alternative artists and people not just doing Afrobeats.
I think people’s ears are also more open to hear other types of music, which is cool.’
Since I met and began to converse with Sofie I have always wondered how She thrives in the Ghanaian music scene or society with her skin colour.
‘When it comes to me existing in the music scene, people may be talking or giving side eyes but nobody in the scene has really confronted me about my skin colour or ethnicity.
In Accra generally, people question where I am from because I have a lighter skin tone but I haven’t received discrimination from the industry I am in or from my peers.
I understand people may be thinking that but I’m pretty confident in myself and know who I am.
I believe my music speaks for itself and I want to keep connecting to all the amazing people worldwide.’
I asked that question because I have read Trevor Noah’s book, the one about his growing up in apartheid South Africa. I couldn’t remember it’s title
‘Son of Patricia?’ I ask Sofie for help
‘No, it’s something like Born To Run? or Born to…?’
‘Yes, Born A Crime. Son of Patricia is a comedy special of his. Mixed that up!’
‘Born A Crime, that’s on my list but I haven’t read it.’ She says.
Sofie understood my perspective and responded by saying
‘In terms of life generally, yes. I have received that.
But when it comes to music, I answered the question specifically to music and me in the scene.
I haven’t received discrimination about that in the Accra music scene.
Being lighter skin living in West Africa, I get comments and questions all the time in general. At the end of the day I feel like people respect me for my Music.’
“I’m from Accra, Ghana.
I’d say that I started pretty young.
I feel like you know because you’ve been watching for a very long time.
My love for music started with me singing from an early age and writing poetry which led to writing original songs and wanting to perform my original music.”Sofie on starting out
I have mentioned somewhere earlier in this story that there was a patch somewhere along Sofie’s journey where I wasn’t sure what was going on. She had not released music for almost two years. I ask why she stopped making music.
‘I didn’t stop making music.’ she clarifies.
‘So was it a break?’ I ask
‘You could say it was a break from releasing. But with me, the creation never stops.
In 2019 I released the Ep ‘Light Waves‘. My second EP. And then I released ‘Motions‘ in September, 2019. You know that one too yeah?
I didn’t release anything until 2021. It wasn’t like a conscious break, I was just holding off from releasing for a little while.
Also I was in school and was doing school work.
I went to a music college and there’s a lot of other things besides creating music that you do.
There was a lot of difficult music theory involved; Jazz Harmony and classical – you’re doing all these different things, like conducting and arranging.
It was a mixture of being busy with school and also the pandemic in early 2020. It was a hard time for everyone and I was trying to figure out my life.
I was still writing, a bunch of things and creating. I just didn’t want to drop until I felt like I was ready to.’
I kind of understood Sofie’s perspective of creative-in-school, juggling two lives. In that period oblivious to this fact, I was quite concerned that maybe the artiste hasn’t dropped because she was going through life stuff in that period.
‘I was definitely going through different things’ she agrees.
‘I feel like everyone was going through something at that time and 2020 was partly a rough year for everyone.
It was hard but also gave me time to self reflect and be still which I appreciate. The way that I was making music changed.
I was doing a lot of things remotely because everyone was sort of stuck in whatever place that they were in.
I was writing a lot then. I was even doing like a bunch of writing sessions online with other people.
So, a lot of the music that is coming through from me now was created during quarantine. Some were after but most songs were written in quarantine…’
I reconnected with Sofie some months before her only single of 2021 was released. It was titled ‘If You Don’t Stop’. We kept in touch. And then one morning I got a ping! It was BLUR.
I listened to this new song while on the road. I told her after my first listen that it was my favourite type of bedroom sound.
‘Lo-Fi and chill’, I said in my concluding assessment of it.
Sofie confirmed to me that I was right. The song had been recorded in her college bedroom during the pandemic with a writer friend.
‘I can tell you all about it’, she began.
‘This song actually came from a quarantine session. Just what I was telling you about.
I have this friend Ben Levy that I wrote If You Don’t Stop with.
We ended up being really good writing buddies or partners.
We shared at least three classes together in college and when we finally wrote, it was pretty much like we were compatible writing buddies.
This song came about from a zoom writing session. We were talking about experiences that we’ve both had inspired by past romantic situations. I told him that I didn’t want the song we were going to write to be sad. I wanted it to be more upbeat and visual too.
We co-wrote it.
I took some direction for some of the more visual parts. Like when it’s like “Lavender skies” in a “Blur”.
You know, the “Tell me when you’re getting off work today”, it’s like you’re wanting to see a person that you’re excited about; the song came together pretty organically in a couple zoom writing sessions.
The pandemic pushed me to try different creative methods.
I hadn’t ever written a song on zoom with anyone. We both had our guitars out, we were figuring out the chords, finding melodies; improvising basically.
The song started flowing.
I don’t know if you heard like a couple puns where I’d said something like “I’ve been waiting, African Giant, Send me the location” That’s like a complete Burna Boy reference’
‘Yeah. Yeah, I heard that. Send Me The Location.
Reference to Location with Dave’
‘You get it!
The more cultural puns like “I can take you places, Lagos to Accra” Like “Link up and we’ll burn one…”
I was very excited to write… and in the outro are some of my friends in a voice memo.’
‘Oh yeah’, I was caught up in this creation story.
I pointed out that I had learned from her story that the creation of the song went through several organic processes.
‘The fact that you had everybody involved in it in a time when everybody could not meet…’
My assertion leads Sofie to explain some more.
‘BLUR was written in 2020 in October. After I had written it, it took a while to complete’.
She enjoys talking about her works. It was easy to spot in the way she breaks down her process…
‘The thing with doing things virtually rather than going to the studio is that it can take longer. Even Blur, just like a bunch of other tunes I’ve been working on, are being engineered slowly but when they are finished I am extremely happy with the end product and really glad that it took as long as it did.
I asked my friend Carter Pankow, another student who went to Berklee (he produced “If You Don’t Stop”) to produce BLUR. It’s one of my favourite songs I’ve made. We were working on BLUR all through 2021 to 2022. Carter did an amazing job.
My friend Paul Johnson added live bass and we added djembe from another friend NiiQuaye who’s a producer and guitarist in Ghana.
I added a lot of background Vocals and my friend Gayathri Krishnan helped me with the arrangement. wanted it to be really full.
I always had my mic with me, I used an SM7B to record it so I just took it with me wherever I went and basically recorded everywhere.’
For every new release comes expectations. I ask Sofie what hers would be for BLUR…
‘I personally nowadays don’t fixate on expectations.
It’s not like I don’t have goals, but I don’t have too many expectations like “I need to get this number of streams in a week” or “I need to get this specific playlist”.
I have goals I want to reach but I try and manifest them in the best, healthiest way.
It would be dope to have a splash with BLUR. I think I’ve been putting myself out there more.
I’ve always done that but now I’m planning things out more for roll out. Like Tiktok for example. I’ve been posting for like two weeks straight with the BLUR sound that I uploaded. Tik-Tok has changed the music industry.’
‘Yeah it has. Hundred percent…’ I coincide with that view.
‘I feel like another thing that I’ve done pretty well with is working with people, and meeting new people.
In Accra I’d say I have a pretty good network that feels like family, I appreciate them a lot.
I enjoy talking to my mentors and asking for advice and hearing their thoughts.
I’m conscious about it. More hands are better than none.’
“I have goals I want to reach but I try and manifest them in the best, healthiest way.”Sofie on expectations
With BLUR out for release and Sofie ready to take it into as many speakers, homes and ears as possible, we conclude our conversation. I however before leaving asked her that same question I ask anyone I converse with…
‘what matters to you the most and why?’
‘Like with music? Or just like…’ She asks with that precision that tells you that whichever aspect the question is framed towards, she is ready to respond.
‘Generally. In life. Or with Music. Whatever sense that you think the question can be answered’ I say.
‘What matters to me the most is my Family and loved ones and friends. I like having good people around me who are on the same wave.
I want to progress and take it to that next level whether that is with my music, my health or well-being.
I care about having a positive impact on the world. feel like the really good things are coming my way.
I’m putting in so much hard work and I know that it’s going to pay off. I’m very hopeful about the present as the future.
We’re trying to do Madison Square Garden!
The goals will always be positive but also real. No one is perfect all the time. No one is happy all the time. Social media isn’t real life. It’s good to try and present the truth as much as you can.
I hope people hear that in my music.
I feel like ‘BLUR’ is like a chill-spring-summer-fun-siong. People rolling their windows down, being on the beach vibing and doing all you want to do.”
You can listen to BLUR by Sofie here .
Written by John (“June”) Eni-ibukun and Sofie. Produced and Mixed by Carter Pankow. Bass Guitar by Paul “Papabear” Johnson. Djembe by NiiQuaye. Background Vocal Arrangement by Gayathri Krishnan and Sofie. Mastered by Alexander Wright. Cover art by Lavern Clerk. Graphic Design by Lena Morton