By Yara El-Soueidi
The primary notes of Sophia Bel’s songs evoke previous recollections of Razr telephones, iPod Nanos, ultra-shiny bubblegum lip glosses, and closely underlined eyes — a time when scene youngsters and preppy jocks shared highschool hallways. The Montreal indie-pop singer explores distinctive sounds crafted from the music that influenced her when she was a teen, the post-punk and pop choices of the early 2000s. Her newest two EPs, both titled Princess of the Lifeless, refer again to the nickname her bullies gave her when she was a teen, an emo child in suburbia. Her music and the EPs — together with her more moderen launch, which dropped late final yr — turned a manner for her to exorcise that have.
“It is at all times good to take from our unhealthy experiences and recognize what it has taught us,” she tells MTV Information. “It is simply good and therapeutic to form of take one thing that comes from a lot trauma, after which flip it over to one thing constructive and reappropriating the identify as a result of like, ‘Yeah, no matter. I am emo. Who cares?’ It will possibly nonetheless exist. We should always validate ourselves. It is vital to course of our trauma and stuff. Nevertheless it’s additionally good to form of recognize what it is taught us and the way it makes us stronger.”
Bel’s music captures that energy and showcases it in different methods. Her single “You’re Not Real, You’re Just a Ghost” is a strong denunciation of a former flame who ghosted her, whereas “No More” is a sizzling and horny retelling of a high-chemistry relationship with a poisonous facet. She explores these deeply private topics, in flip connecting with listeners by common themes of affection and heartache. Her personal expertise, in the meantime, has at all times been distinctive. Born in Michigan to a Québécois father and a Dutch-American mom, she grew up in a suburb of Québec Metropolis and moved to Montreal to realize independence. After a yr of working in cafés and taking part in music, she determined to go to highschool and research jazz composition as a strategy to join with different musicians.
This and all her different tales construct her inspiration and creativity. That’s the way you get the relatable kiss-off of “You’re Not Actual, You’re Only a Ghost,” advised over sugar-filled pop-rock that can inevitably make you dance earlier than a room of imaginary specters. Bel says she wrote the track to speak her emotions concerning the sophisticated and precarious positions of affection. “It is about being ghosted, ghosting, and the final issue speaking in relationships,” she says. “It is actually laborious to be susceptible typically. For me, it was actually about that facet of issues that I have been by, like, many instances with many alternative individuals.”
Conserving these tales near her, Bel is personally concerned in each facet of the creation of her music. From co-producing her album, which blends pop melodies and downbeat trip-hop components, to her involvement within the edgy and colourful aesthetic she places ahead, each facet of her artistry is imagined by her with the assistance of native collaborators and producers. She loves the management. Earlier than she began producing, she typically felt misplaced in different individuals’s visions, which felt inauthentic to her voice and concepts.
“I needed to have the ability to categorical my imaginative and prescient much more exactly,” Bel says. “It isn’t about being utterly self-sufficient and making an attempt to do every little thing alone. I actually just like the craft. It is simply one thing that I take pleasure in doing. It makes [listeners] really feel higher after I can put extra of myself into it.”
Reflective of all of that is additionally her edgy model. Obsessed with vogue and taking her aesthetic to coronary heart, she describes her entire look as “darkish and playful,” including that she doesn’t overthink it relating to clothes, going with what evokes her within the second. Simply as her music can evoke a blade-thin flip cellphone, her model takes inspiration from her youth, together with spaghetti-strap, mesh tops, and bell-bottom pants. That’s additionally because of her Montreal-based glam squad, composed of stylist Laurence Morisset and hair and makeup artist Roxanne Selleck. “I’ve to say them when speaking about my model, as a result of it is actually form of like a extremely enjoyable brainstorm on a regular basis with these two,” Bel provides, guffawing.
The dialog about buddies, music, and magnificence finally drifts towards the pandemic and the way she’s been coping with its affect. She mentions having ups and downs in 2020, not feeling extraordinarily impressed, however this static downtime was a chance to push herself to course of her emotions, preoccupations, and face herself by studying to turn out to be extra susceptible.
“We now have to face ourselves as a result of we won’t distract ourselves as a lot as earlier than,” she provides. “So, yeah, it is nonetheless very introspective like every little thing that I do. It is at all times form of associated to my youth, how I take care of issues within the current and the way it’s linked to every little thing.”
And in connection to every little thing, her French single, “Voyage Astral [Astral Trip],” approaches introspection and alter by an ephemeral trip-hop beat, taking listeners on a journey by colourful clouds outdoors of area and time. That power is mirrored in its video, which was utterly produced and self-shot by an previous digital digicam from the early 2000s. It has a quintessentially religious high quality to it, an extension of the tarot and New Age practices she makes use of as therapeutic instruments to spark conversations with buddies.
“I really feel prefer it at all times evokes no matter is happening in your life,” Bel says. “It is extremely a lot about how typically you see your self in a brand new manner that you’ve got by no means seen your self earlier than, and then you definitely query that and also you evolve. In order that’s why I like bringing form of the ethereal facet to it, as a result of it is form of good to only benefit from the ethereal sides of life.”
Possibly Bel will get extra ethereal in 2021. She’s eager on being gentler and kinder to herself — which you’ll be able to hear on the EP’s closing observe, “Clover” — one thing she thinks everybody ought to do. A great place to begin? Possibly someplace distant and surprising, the place creativity can movement.
“I wish to go, once we’re allowed to, in a cabin within the woods,” Bel says. “I wish to make an album within the woods.”