by Nick Hanover
Emerging more or less out of nowhere this year with a series of art pop singles, Socha is a remarkably charming artist whose music enraptures those of us who have been lucky to hear it, enlivening the scene like someone walking a bouquet of flowers through a dive bar where stale beer and a haze of pot had previously been the only discernible scents. We caught up with Socha over email to discuss her sharp eye for collaborators, her love of all things lavender, trying to stand out in a city still dominated by the cliche of “4-dudes-in-a-band-playing-psych-rock” and much more!
Nick Hanover for Ovrld: I think you’re the first artist to ever send me a flavor profile to describe themselves. What was the thought process and research that went into that? And do you have a cocktail and/or dessert you recommend listeners pair with your upcoming single, “Soft”?
Socha: I experience music with shapes and memories and textures embedded into them, and I wanted to convey that with this project. I think it’s pretty universal for music to conjure up memories for people, either specific moments or general times of their life. I wanted to create that intentionally with my work. On my Instagram highlight called “Musings”, you can even find specific “pairings” for each song. For example, one pairing for “Go Wrongs” is “spending time with people you love on a summer night when you can still feel the heat of the day.” My favorite one for the song “Musings” is “staring up at the stars and feeling like you might start falling up and be swallowed by their infiniteness.”
Pairing different sensations comes naturally to me, so establishing a flavor profile for the album was something that came from my own experiences and feelings.
For “Soft,” I would recommend creme brulee, or any kind of soft custard that you can let melt/sit in your mouth. Not as much a drink but a feeling, another pairing I would recommend is that salty raw feeling in your throat that comes from a beautiful day spent swimming and exploring a salty beach.
Ovrld: Let’s also specifically talk about lavender. You list it as a defining scent and as a color, it’s also everywhere in your art, from your single covers to your stage attire. Where does your affinity for lavender come from? What do you think it communicates?
Socha: An important theme in my life and my music is how softness can embody strength. Lavender is visually the best representation of this, as it it delicate and soft, yet bold and stands out in a room. I especially like wearing it, because it is typically associated with femininity. I like taking things out of their typical context and using it to create a different story, kind of like shuffling back and forth between the two dualities. (For example: taking on “masculine” stances and roles while wearing “feminine” clothing, or expressing vulnerability as a way to soften another person). Lavender dances between these two seemingly opposite ends, strength and softness, just like I do.
Ovrld: It should be pretty clear by now that I’m a committed fan of your work, “Go Wrongs” and “Let’s Regress” in particular stood out to me this year as startlingly fresh and adventurous takes on post-punk and indie pop. What reactions to your singles have most delighted you? Surprised you?
Socha: I think my favorite part of this whole process has been the relief I’ve felt after releasing the tracks. Back in January, when I was finishing up the record, I was feeling extremely inadequate regarding this project. I was super fearful that there was some kind of standard I wasn’t living up to, and that all of the time and resources put towards the creation of this album would go to waste.
Once I started releasing the songs, however, I felt this playfulness return. I realized that I could try and “grind” and hammer away at this project, desperate to reach a certain standard and goal, or I could tap into my soft center flow, and ride out this process however it was meant to be. The things that keep me motivated aren’t able to be measured, but rather are the moments of people expressing connection to my work, getting to plan my kick-ass listening party, and the excitement that comes from brainstorming what fun project I like to do next. It’s all play, and the moment it becomes anything else, what’s the point?
I am a little disappointed that I haven’t gotten a “troll” from this album (yet!). I’ve said this a lot semi-jokingly, but I will feel like I’ve “made it” once people start to hate on me. I’d rather have people blog mean things about me than feel “meh” about my work. Not to say that I am not grateful for all of the kind support I have received. It feels really good to see people connect with stories and sounds that I brought into the world.
Ovrld: Both of those songs explore anxiety and romantic upheaval with an author’s eye, full of the kind of specific, lingering details that even veteran artists struggle to convey. Do you keep a journal with observations to pull from? Are there writers who influence your music as much as musicians?
Socha: Typically when I write, I will start by creating some sort of progression or melody on my keyboard or guitar, and word/sing-vomit until something I like begins to form. My phone is filled with a lot of voice memos of me just singing gibberish, and every once in a while something really good comes out! Honestly, sometimes it feels as if I sort of black out, and when I come back to my body, I’ve written this new song. There’s a high probability that I share a body with another being that takes over to make some sweet jams every once in a while.
I often find song ideas when I’m traveling, like walking or driving. I wrote “Soft” on the way to class one day. I was walking by the creek that runs through campus, thinking about how monotonous and mediocre school felt, and that I just wished to let the water overtake me and incorporate me into something bigger.
A few themes in Milan Kundera and Kurt Vonnegut’s books have inspired me a lot (I reference them in “Closure(?)” and to-be-released “Time in Pictures”). I admire their melancholic take on the tragedy of human-ness. It’s something that I relate to and find comfort in.
I think listening to Marina and the Diamonds and Regina Spektor a lot in middle/high school has influenced my music structure greatly. I admire people that say things in an indirect way, but don’t necessarily try to make it pretty.
Ovrld: There’s a self-destructive intensity to all of your lyrics but “Soft” is perhaps the most intense so far; in the promo materials you’ve singled out the line “Body torn apart one with the water, poured back into from where I came from, encased in my own destruction, I walk around like an open wound” which strikes me as the kind of lyric that would fit right in playing over the closing credits of an adaptation of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, with its water destruction and rebirth imagery. Do you view your music as a rebirth/self-destruction process?
Socha: I often feel an immense longing to step outside of myself, (I often feel very stuck behind my eyeballs), and I think this comes out as a wish to self destruct. In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera talks a lot about vertigo, which is this manifestation of the paradoxical desire to fall into what we fear most. In the book, one of the characters finds herself physically falling a lot, representing her desire to fall outside of herself and separate her soul and body. The connection between body and soul is fascinating: we feel this innate separateness from our bodies (we often try to control them as something outside of us), yet we can never truly find that separateness.
This album came from a time very much characterized by rebirth. I had just shaved my head, separated myself from a person who had taken up a lot of my life, and was trying to sort out what that meant. But each song in a way is constantly a rebirth. Cycles within cycles within cycles.
Ovrld: Let’s regress for a moment. Where did Socha the artist come from? What were the sounds and perspectives you were looking to explore when you first started making music?
Socha: I grew up pretending my life was a movie. I would play on the swings all recess and sing dramatic songs to myself. I would act through elaborate dangerous adventures, always casting myself as the hero. And as I got older, I felt a strong mix of restlessness and longing, finding release through making things. I wouldn’t say that I have had an intentional sound in mind when I’ve made music, but rather just being able to capture the feelings that I feel in a way that others can feel them too. Maybe in some self-centered human way, it’s a desire to preserve them? To preserve small snapshots of myself.
Ovrld: I know you’ve been working with all-star producer Frenchie Smith on your current wave of releases but before that you were making more of a solo bedroom pop type sound on Not My Body. How did the Frenchie connection come about and what drew you to him as a producer? His background in big sounds for artists like Purple would seem like an odd coupling on paper but the sound absolutely works.
Socha: Livvy Bennet, from Mamalarky, recommended Frenchie to me (which was a great sign from the start!). I didn’t really know what I was looking for in a producer, as my previous EP was recorded with some friends from college. However, as soon as I met Frenchie, I knew that we were a good fit, and I am so grateful to have worked with him. Frenchie is very old-school, and style-wise does seem a little funny on paper, but he was incredibly open and flexible with my ideas and goals. Through the process, I realized that having someone like Frenchie who valued my opinions even over his years of experience was very important for this process. I don’t think the album would have felt this good if I would have had to fight someone to be heard the whole time. It was also fun to explore and learn with Frenchie along the way, (our first session was spent learning how to use the drum pad app he had on his phone, and we ended up recording all of the drums on the album that way!)
Socha: I wanted to incorporate as much collaboration as possible with this whole release process, and Sloane and Felix were two brilliant souls that I was super grateful to work with. The concept and execution of the video was all their doing, I gave them my moodboard and they made something really special with it.
While I don’t have any other collaborations planned with them at the moment, I will be working with other artists! Kassidy Curry and I just released an animation video she did for the song “Musings,” Mikki Pasasadaba (@mik_dab) and I collaborated on the official album zines (you can buy them on my bandcamp!), Meggie Copeland (@m.c._styles) and I collaborated on a dance to “Time in Pictures” which will be released soon, and so many more collabs are to come!
Socha: My ultimate dream is to have a space that hosts multi-media events, residencies for just-starting-out artists, and is a meeting hub for the community, so yes! I love event planning, and am going to be doing that more in the fall after my album is fully released.
I have been getting more into visual art as well, and am excited to dedicate more time to building those skills in the fall. I love learning new skills, and find myself at my most content and successful when I’m bouncing between different passions.
Ovrld: Speaking of Christelle Bofale, the two of you seem to have an affinity for each other’s music. What do you particularly like about what she’s doing? What do you think she’s drawn to in yours?
Socha: While trying not to sound like a crabby jerk, the Austin music scene can be extremely frustrating to navigate, as someone who isn’t 4-dudes-in-a-band-playing-psych-rock. Not to say that those artists aren’t valuable, but just for whatever reason have been the city’s go-to acts. This is definitely changing with lovely artists like Christelle Bofale, Indoor Creature, Smiile, and the whole CRTFD crew, which is why I am drawn to them so much. I appreciate their creative, brilliant, authentic music that challenges the typical music style. It’s inspiring and refreshing 🙂
Ovrld: What are your ambitions for the rest of the year? For the next few years? Will be getting a Socha LP any time soon?
Socha: Music-wise, my next move is to try something totally new and challenging. My partner (@thrifty_c41) and I are wanting to start making some smooth lo-fi deep house jams, which will be hella fun. Personally, I want to try a style that focuses more on textures rather than vocals, and see where that takes me!
I will probably focus more on visual art a bit, to let my brain reset music-wise. One of my goals this year was to sell my first piece of art, and I have been wanting to try tapestry-making as well.
All in all, I don’t really have a plan other than doing what feels good. Doing things that I enjoy is the way that I have found carries me forward in the least resistant and most brilliant way. I’m excited to see what the future unravels for me <3
Socha’s next show is July 12th at Cheer Up Charlie’s with Why Bonnie and more
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover