SOLEIMA ON FEARLESS MODERNIST POP
Delving into uncharted experimental, unconventional, pop-adjacent sounds can be risky. Lucky for Copenhagen-based singer-songwriter and producer, Soleima, it’s paying off. Born Sarah Mariegaard, she cut her teeth in a Wu-Tang Clan-inspired, Danish-language hip-hop collective called Flødeklinikken. She also spent time making music in Tanzania after falling in love with traditional drum sounds during an African dance camp her mother took her to in Denmark. Those experiences have joined together to create her one of a kind pop-electronic sound and R&B sensibilities helping the Danish artist reach her goal of changing the dominant perception of pop music.
With the commencement of her new mini-album, Bulldog, Soleima caught up with LADYGUNN to share how her past influences her current sound, making “garage pop,” and celebrating the people who dare to go for the good life.
How did your role in the hip-hop collective, translate into your current music and sound?
When I was super young, 10 or 11 years old, I started playing with these six guys that I went to school with. We liked old-school hip-hop, like Wu-Tang Clan, People Under the Stairs, and The Roots. We played hip-hop music in Danish, and that was an important thing for me. I learned how to write songs and to play with other people, and that affected the way I understand music and the way I write. I think the way it impacts my sound now is some of the organic elements we explored back then. We never had backtracking and stuff like that; we loved all the real instruments. That’s something I’m using right now in my sound, even though it’s electronic, there’s still a lot of organic elements that I like.
What are some of the biggest differences and challenges when you’re creating music on your own instead of working within a larger group?
There’s a big difference, actually. When you’re in a group or collective like that, you’re doing all of these things together. You’re creating this idea that what you are doing together is the only right thing, and that whatever people say, it doesn’t really matter because you’re in it together. That’s actually a big challenge with going solo like this, when you’re used to having a small army, you know? That’s something you miss actually. But also, it’s good to be alone because that’s something I needed. To be able to make my own decisions when it comes to the music. I needed to be able to say ‘hey, this is the snare drum sound that I want’ and not discuss it with six other boys (laughter). So, it has its ups and downs I think.
What experiences and influences go into writing a song like your recent single, “Low Life?”
My life. This song, “Low Life” is actually a song I wrote for my brother who has been struggling a lot in life with different things. It’s a song about celebrating the people that dare to go for the good life even though they have a lot of challenges along the way. That’s what inspires me, where I’m at in life, what is happening around me, the people in my life, then just hope that people will be able to relate to it, and get something from it when they listen to it.
Your sound has been described as “garage pop” and “electronic sound” do you feel that those are big enough definitions to embody what you’re creating sonically?
I work a lot with a Danish producer, Vasco, he’s one of my main collaborators, and he said: “this is such a garage pop song.” I just imagined someone sitting in their parent’s garage, maybe they created a drum kit from old pots and pans and stuff, and they’re just like, hammering on this weird drum set they made, trying to make these big pop sounds. Somehow, that’s kind of how I see us. I write very pop songs, but I think we like to give it the production of a kid sitting in a garage playing with weird sounds, you know what I mean?
When you were choosing the songs for Bulldog, was there a singular message or theme tying all of the songs together?
I see them as songs about friendship, but in different aspects, and the idea of not being alone in the world. This last year I’ve been living with very dear friends in a very intimate way, and I think somehow this EP ended up about the ups and downs of friendship. Many of the songs are about the fear of loneliness and the fear of getting lost somehow. But then again, there’s the aspect of someone saving you from that fear.
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