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Front row with Sof

Photography by @eyeofledii

Front row with Sof

Our next interviewee on the FRM Blog has landed on the bulls-eye of something great. Her talent spews from every pore possible – from modelling, styling, creating world immersive self portraits, DJing and more recently, creating music of her own. Songo Ananda is what happens when a love & adoration of art and artists are intertwined into one's own creative pulse. And I have not only the pleasure of conducting this exchange, but watching before my eyes, a star being born!

The creative economy brewing in our country at the moment is tightly packed with ingenuity, passion and considered imaginations. From Ewiva!'s recent 'RALLY' music video, Callan Grecia’s recent collection of paintings presented at the Cape Town Art Fair and the visual offerings paired with Songo’s recent EP. Each and everyone is a wonder to behold!

Photography by @eyeofledii

Her debut EP, 'Sof', might pass as a feisty, colourful and #cunty piece of work. But once you dig to the core of her work – it will reveal a fearlessly honest recalling of just the ways love and intimacy can aggravate the scabs we have not yet healed. ‘Miuccia’, starts off the project on a high note, a call to embrace youth and the fruits of independence, with some sonic choices that are very reminiscent of FKA Twigs's earlier works. Being followed up by ‘Anti-Lover’, which is an acceptance of the love lost. These songs are imbued with the frankness of a young child, with its clammy hands, eagerly guiding us through the maze that is our emotions.

My personal favourite from the project, ‘Limerence’, which placed after such a whimsical line up of songs feels like a punch to the gut. This jagged and stripped down track, with its sharp tongue, tugged at the tufts of my heart. Enjoy this conversation with Sof, as she shares a relatable tale of defeat, rejection and redirection towards triumph. From Harmony Korine's ionic, yet polarising 'Spring Breakers', to dealing with the discomfort of being seen. This interview has something for everyone!

Photography by @eyeofledii

Before we begin, could you introduce yourself and give us a description of what you do?

SOF: I am Songo Ananda, otherwise known as 'sof'. I am a musical artist and self-portrait artist with a key focus on music production, singing, songwriting and DJing.

I am lucky to have known you since our days in high school. Staying in hostel more specifically, I was exposed to your love for music. When did it click for you that music could be more than something you passively enjoy?

SOF: Ahhh!! Yess, I remember always going to your dorm cause I was obsessed with your inspiration collage wall – those moments you allowed me to look through your cool art shaped me a lot by the way! I vividly remember wanting to be a singer my entire life. I actually wrote my first song I can remember when I was 12 and sang it to my dorm mates. It went something along the lines of: "I have a crush, I have a crush, on some other guy, I have a crush, I have a crush and I just don't know why, he's just a guy, with beautiful eyes, I think he's pretty with his charming smile... I have a crush".

They all laughed at me for it, kids are ruthless! And yes, I was a HUGE Hannah Montana fan!

Photography by @songoananda

SOF: I'm sure you remember that S Factor talent show at school which I flopped at & got made fun of for – that moment changed everything. I stopped singing completely for a while after it, my confidence had taken a huge hit. Then at 17, I started writing poetry in my journal every time something affected me and I just never stopped. It was coming to Joburg and seeing people do what they want that changed a lot for me. I remember in first year I had been rallying my friends to start DJing and one evening, I was having an intimate conversation with someone about music and what I deeply loved about it and it clicked. I didn't quite know the terms for different roles in music outside of being the singer and a band – so I said something along the lines of "I want to make the instrumentals to songs as my way of creating art" and he was like "a producer?" and i was like "ahh, yes, a producer". For so long, music was something I was consuming & fell deeply in love with from a young age, so it made all the more sense.

I made my first beat that night on GarageBand on my phone – it actually turned out cute so I posted on Twitter and that was it. Time went by and I was immersing myself in different sounds within music and my curiosity never stopped.

Photography by @mo.thecreative

What is Sofatale Radio and how did the idea of that come along?

SOF: 'Sofatale Radio' is my radio show & it stems from an idea I will one day begin, which is 'Sofatale Maquillage'. I registered it as a business so I was like, "What can I do with the resources I have now to grow this baby so long until I have the resources for the makeup stuff?" – and music was my first answer to it because I always mix music with makeup. She's still only beginning but I have enjoyed the mixes so far. I hope the girlies know it's for you to have something to get ready to!

How has it been DJing so far? Are there any truths you’ve learnt along the way?

SOF: DJing has been an eye-opening experience and a half. I am so grateful for the opportunities it has afforded me and the support I've received from my peers through it! I've learnt a lot about myself through the artform – even in moments that I feel less proud of – I still freak it! DJing has taught me the importance of patience and integrity when it comes to how you visualise music within spaces. I often play more alternative sounds that can sometimes take a crowd back for the main reason of challenging the listener in terms of what sonic worlds can be created within event spaces, and that has been met with rejection sometimes. That has taught me to remain unwavering in what you love and bringing something fresh to a crowd – it's set me apart a lot and the girls that get it get it!

Photography by @downtownthabz

When did you realise you wanted to start making your own music? How did you go about actualising that dream, from writing to producing and all?

SOF: The big dawning moment was late second year, when I started DJing, I was also beginning to write songs, no longer poetry. I kept them to myself for a long time until third year came and I was adamant about everything – but I didn't know where to start outside of my phone, so I downloaded FL studio onto my laptop and started producing. I started seeing someone at the time who, without fail, told me I was good at this and could definitely take it far – he helped me make my first song. From that moment I just didn't stop writing & producing and now I'm here. Years later and music is all I think about. I have never loved something so much, it's become my most natural and elevated state of existence. Upon taking it more seriously, I focused deeply on production and would practise singing and writing to other beats. At that time, I realised that the craft would talk longer to hone in than I thought, so I just locked in for months on end just trying things – and from that came the birth of my debut single, 'Miuccia'.

I remember after I made the beat I was like FINALLY and spent about 2 months trying to write to it. The song actually spawned from the first proper session I had with my good friend, Motheo. He gave me beats to write to – which I never felt good enough to make something crazy on at the time – and that's when and how got the outro for Miuccia. From then on, borrowing from all old songs and adding new parts around them became a process I believed in. It feels like some kind of sampling. In that, I write completely new bodies around the themes of old songs that mostly come naturally to me. All of the songs in my debut EP came simply, other than 'Type of way' (which is slept on btw) so by the time I started recording vocals for everything, all of my beats were complete – some earlier, some later.

Photography by @mo.thecreative

From your DJ sets and mixes, it's easy to see that you have a precise ear when it comes to picking up sounds and themes that pair well together and I assume that is linked to your appreciation of the arts as a whole. Are there any musicians, films, works of arts or even just people in your life that you feel influenced your EP?

SOF: Musicians I am deeply influenced by are Sade for her simple-yet-sharp writing. I think their writing is some of the greatest in the world. Beyoncé is pure talent – I love how she shaped pop music and has had a hand in producing all her work. Aphex Twin because of his childlike way of creating. I once heard he made stuff having no idea what he's doing and goes by ear and how the music feels. I take that lesson with me every time I make music. Steve Lacy, because his Ted talk changed everything for me. I felt a sense of being invincible after watching it the first time. Amy Winehouse because of her honesty in her lyrics and how beautiful her ballads are – her voice is mesmerising and she seemed like such a beautiful person inside and out, her poetic pen!

Tyler The Creator, for merely existing. I think his mind and how it translates into his work is beautiful, his production is marvellous and I am always lost for words. He has never made a bad song in my eyes. Solange, she's just magnificent, her writing and creative process shaped how free I allowed myself to be in my expression. I admire her immensely as an artist. Lebo Mathosa & Brenda Fassie for being the superstars they were. I grew up on their music and it shaped how I want to show up in the world as a black South African Xhosa woman. Brenda gave zero fucks.

Photography by @songoananda

SOF: Films that stand out for me are ‘Spring Breakers’ – I was sure I was one of them in Grade 8 and the soundtrack is in a world of its own. ‘Malcom and Marie’ remains a favourite too, agonising yes but so beautiful. SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD!!! OUT OF THIS WORLD SOUNDTRACK, I could watch it over and over and still have a thrill. ‘Bones and All’ was so pure in its expression, I wept... listen to 'You made it feel like home'. 'Virgin Suicides' was gut wrenching. 'Aftersun' broke my heart, it was so humanly painful and for some odd reason throughout the movie there was this looming doom that anytime now, something bad could happen. The scene when she's dancing with her father had me weeping and I was very intrigued with the cinematography during the scene. How swift-yet-still the shots felt. Full of movement yet having none at all – magnificent.

Your EP, Sof, is an honest yet fun expression of love and longing. Not shying away from the ugly emotions of jealousy, the come down that comes after encountering strong, cosmic and instant connection to feeling jaded from the throws of intimacy. Was it an intentional choice to mask the vulnerability and frankness of your lyrics with such whimsical and fierce beats?

SOF: Omg the way you put it literally rocked my heart! It was infact a choice. Crazy, I was telling my good friend the other day that I feel closer to my more melancholic soul songs than my whimsical ones because they feel honest to what I'm saying, even in the production, and that maybe it's something to think about going forward. I shy away from it because it'll begin to feel like the person listening will know me bare if I do. I don't know… I think about this a lot!

So in short, yes, I do intentionally mask the vulnerability but it's because I do it in real life too. There's two sides of the same coin with me which I love so I do my best to emulate both as a way to let the listener into my psyche. Sometimes it's all a "big fat attitude, butt of the joke" moment and sometimes it's deeply entrenched in yearning and nostalgia that comes with not understanding the fleeting emotions that come with it. I didn't want to be the girl who is harping on about love but here I am baring my heart to you because well, I actually can't help it – it comes most naturally.

Photography by @eyeofledii

SOF: In 'Miuccia', it's about being single & thriving and wanting nothing to do with these niggas. It's like a "no boys allowed" song. In ‘Anti-Lover’, we see the battle of the modern day world of situationships (that inevitably end) and sometimes feel like the death of a version of yourself. I tried writing it from a man's perspective in this situation and how one can be caught up in their material world without thinking of their emotional one, and just how it could have an effect their lover, even unintentionally. ‘Boy from Mars’ is the date you'll never forget because you connected with someone so deeply, equally how that moment has you yearning to be saved from sadness through this lover that has taken your heart as their own. It's the dance of a dalliance. ‘Limerence’ is about intense yearning and desire to cure your curiosity about someone who's changed your world as you know it from their presence alone. Because there's an underlying theme of obsession it creates this imbalance. This kind of yearning may not be best as the romance becomes a mere recollection or memories and a wish to get closer.

You put a lot of care into your visuals, which is the reason in my head I consider you as our very own Pop Princess. What role does your fashion and portraiture play when you go about creating your artistic world?

SOF: Omg! It's crazy how the visual aspect came full circle to create the world of my own, as Songo Ananda, because that wasn't the ideal at the beginning. I was just taking pictures for the sake of the makeup and it morphed into something bigger. Fashion for me is my way of life. I've always played around with clothes and grew up witnessing my mom make them so it came naturally to me. I also started dressing myself early & throughout all of my growth as a person. I get excited with creating different ensembles from my wardrobe and making something ordinary a bit cuter. It's truly something I love. I feel it'll take a heightened trajectory as I grow as an artist and begin to make my own designs. The 18-year old me, who wants to do fashion, still geeks about the ingenuity I can harness in creating my own style by manipulating my clothes and creating new ones.

Artwork by @songoananda

What are any intentions or goals you have for this year now that you've put out your debut project? Are there any producers or collaborators you would love to work with in the future?

SOF: MORE MORE MORE MUSIC. I have been making more songs since I dropped 'Sof' but my meticulousness has had a tight grip on me. I can say that there's been a dawning in my creation. It's coming together sonically in ways it never has before and my ear is tuning in more and more into the kind of sonic production I want to create, so I will be releasing some very very cute music sooner than you think.

I'm currently in cahoots with LUCAS3000 (Botho Maje). They have granted me the honour of letting me into their sonic world and all I can say is woooow! Jesus wept!! We have a gem with them & I am absolutely excited to create more with them. I am still going to work with PMX1000 (Phila Mlaba). He has been nothing short of supportive and mixed my songs ‘Anti-Lover’ and ‘Type of Way’. His mind and heart are out of this world. I'm excited to see the heights he's going to reach within the industry because he's only just beginning. 'Deabadhu' and I are going to be onto something too. I've known 'ATL' for a hot minute now and am always excited for their music. They've managed to bring a new face to rap music in South Africa that I feel will reach beyond our borders to the world at large. FatherWethu, she is my favourite local artist. She is bigger than the world already in my eyes. I'll be in my producer bag for her so I am extremely excited to join heads with her. I'm excited to work with other musicians too! I'm keen to help out women with their production this year so don't be afraid to hit me up. I still get nervous thinking of asking to collaborate with other artists I absolutely love but none of that this year!

Photography by @songoananda

Photography by @mo.thecreative


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