Monday, 12 May 2014

Feature // SOHN for Crack Magazine

 I interviewed 4AD's SOHN for the latest issue of Crack Magazine, out all over the country (With Tood Terje on the cover) right now! We talked about his production work for Banks, working solely at night and how the Vienesse air inspired his debut album 'Tremors'. You can also read it digtially here or scroll down below...
SOHN // Crack Magazine
Where many artists utilse an alter-ego to entertain away from their original persona, Vienna-by-way-of-London's SOHN breathes his identity with no conceptual distinctions.
 “I liked the idea of being the son of all my past experiences” he muses, explaining the depths to his German-spoken mononym, a tone of both soft and strong proportions that sets the foundation for his doleful discourse. “It’s not only when I perform either”, he continues through the onyx-black hood that can often be seen cowling his figure. “These are the clothes I wear, full- stop… it’s less about omitting a presence, and more about feeling one.”
 We’re Skyping with SOHN, who is late to our morning interview, but after learning of the nocturnal studio schedule enlisted for the creation of his debut full-length, it’s not without good reason. Residing in London and producing “urgent, sinister” work, he moved to Austria out of a lack of connection to the city, integrating himself within the Viennese culture. “I’m more of a hermit than ever before, so moving to a country for community is kind of ironic” he admits. “I love the sense of calm here, it’s a quiet city when you want it to be.”
 SOHN’s debut album Tremors sets him apart from the post-RnB segregation of male, angel-voiced solo artists such as How To Dress Well and James Blake. It’s a self-appreciating listen that draws you in and won’t let go until you’re entwined deep in its elaborately emotional web. Recording Tremors alone in the dead of night often resulted in not leaving his studio until sunrise. As pitch-black pressure points vividly burn throughout his elegant soundscape, the release undoubtedly belongs to the purity of dusk or dawn.
Tremors is as much about the light as it is about the dark; just as much about the space and silence as it is abundant with multi-instrumentalism. “I died a week ago/ There’s nothing left” SOHN mourns on The Wheel, building a melody of humidified vocals. Tracks such as Tempest produce digitised pools of vocals, leading SOHN’s stunning falsetto on a journey that peaks with chopped, woody beats, before the explicit imagery of Paralysed, a poignant, lump-in-the-throat listen, etching out a downturn of love and loss through locked arms and “twisted intestines”. An intensely beautiful byproduct of pain that resonates to listeners universally, actions and consequences are all well and good, but it’s epitomising an ethereal, textural scene to his audience that SOHN presses further.
“The artwork, photography and videos have always been massively important in terms of presenting the music with the right mood, the right intention. I look long and hard at that side of what I do. I make the music and see the visuals in my head already, which can be as vague as colour, all the way to being so specific that I can see the whole video… the photography has to encapsulate everything I feel the song does, but also set a scene for the song to be listened to.” Take the gorgeous visuals for Bloodflows, where picturesque and weather-beaten landscapes in the Bavarian Alps are inked by a multitude of leaking smoke bombs, his soulfully icy vocals almost bleeding off the screen.
 Stepping away from his own gruelling after-dark agenda, SOHN is nothing short of a musical polymath, also applying his Midas touch to productions and remixes for the sultry sounds of Banks, over to the rich tones of Kwabs. “I loved them both immediately” he gushes. “It was just a very innocent, ‘let’s get in a room and see what happens’ scenario. I work the same way as when I’m writing for myself, the only difference is you have to carve out the right space for the other artist. That’s something all great producers are capable of doing, and something which I love.”
 Turning his ear to the attention-demanding bite of Angel Haze, along with skewing LA duo Rhye’s sensual hues into a haunting listen for his remix of Open, it’s not just a take on the new generation of US up-and-comers that is making SOHN’s European presence felt on the other side of the Atlantic. YouTube any of Tremors’ 11 striking tracks and you’ll soon be met with a “Miguel brought me here!” luminous green thumbs-up comment, ever since the superstar RnB smooth bot dropped “John but with an S” into a radio interview of British inspirations, citing a “super dope” five-song SoundCloud as his introduction.
 From a superstar fan to a European enigma, the bright lights constantly attracted to SOHN’s world don’t add distraction. “I forget even having a debut record out is a big thing” he admits softly. Yet releasing one of the most gut-wrenchingly passionate records to come out of 4AD this year warrants a springtime full of sadness on SOHN’s watch, something worth submersing yourself into and remembering on a wholly devoted level.

Words by Yours Truly X

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