Photo credit: Shelby Duncan.
Singer-songwriter-musician SOKO is one-of-a-kind: intimate, lo-fi, crazy, sexy, funny, tear-stained, heartbreaking, often all at once. Combining dream pop, authentic lyrics and otherworldly orchestral flourishes, she will release her U.S. debut full length album I THOUGHT I WAS AN ALIEN on June 11 via Community Music, the Los Angeles-based indie label founded by Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. SOKO’s album premiered in Europe last year to great acclaim, with The Independent (U.K.) describing the 14-song set as “Touching and strangely beautiful” (Simmy Richman, 2/12). Elsewhere, NME elaborated, “Soko started recording in her bedroom, just a girl with an acoustic guitar and GarageBand. But her debut album, recorded with Elliott Smith collaborator Fritz Michaud, looks beyond… The likes of ‘For Marlon’ and ‘I Just Want To Make New With You’ have a knack for making sadness sound sweet, and sweetness sad…” (Anne T Donahue, 2/12).
The aptly titled I THOUGHT I WAS AN ALIEN is full of love and loss and worry, the kind of fundamental, life-dictating human feelings which are so far beyond rational explanation. Like one of her absolute heroes, Daniel Johnston, SOKO has the rare ability to sing openly about those feelings, in a way which is utterly compelling, sometimes devastating, but also, completely uplifting.
The title I THOUGHT I WAS AN ALIEN is about social alienation,” explains SOKO. The explosive young Frenchwoman’s songs have already touched people around the world, earning her a devoted, global following. Since her teens, SOKO has been on a roller coaster journey. From a stockpile of over 100 songs, she finally whittled down to a selection of 14 for I THOUGHT I WAS AN ALIEN. “I had an awareness of death so early in my life,” she says, “because I lost my Dad when I was five and a lot of close family members before I was 15, I had a lot of heavy responsibilities and awareness of sadness at a young age. So the song, “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow” is an urge to live my life now, to make sure that I do the right thing, that I’m the best of myself every day, even if most of the time I‘m not–I’m trying to be.”
“When I write,” she adds, “I write a song for someone, like a musical letter or poem, as my way to communicate with them–I’ll write it, record it, and five minutes later send it to that person. It’s like making a present that means something. I don’t think I ever wrote a song for no-one. Maybe people think I should censor myself, but I can’t do anything else than something brutally honest and raw.” SOKO describes the creation of the opening track “I Just Want To Make It New With You”: “the recording is super lo-fi, I really wanted it to be the opening track because it was a spontaneous song and it was my first time playing bass. I wrote it for my friend Ariel Pink, recorded everything on Garageband and sent it to him one-hour later as a ‘Let’s make new fun things together…things that we’ve never done before with anyone else!’”
Prolific songwriting aside, SOKO has developed a passion for directing all of her music videos. For the first single, “First Love Never Die” SOKO co-directed the clip with Matthew Gray Gubler. “I feel I had to be an adult, even when I was very young that now, I’m in a constant teenage crisis and I want to be as carefree as I can and like relive the childhood that was taken away from me because of too many responsibilities and tragedy. When I met Matthew, I already had the concept for the video, I wanted to see children being in love, totally carefree, unconditional love and living like there is no tomorrow.” Watch the clip for “First Love Never Die” below here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_Y2jfK06pY. Expect more videos to debut in the coming weeks.
“FIRST LOVE NEVER DIE” video:
At 27, SOKO has also appeared in 13 French films. She won “Best Actress” last Fall at the Mar Del Plata Film Festival in Argentina for her starring role in Augustine (Music Box) and she’s been nominated for a César Award for (In the Beginning, French: À l’origine). Augustine will receive a limited U.S. release starting on May 17 (see U.S. theaters below). Based on a true story set in Belle Epoque Paris, the film follows 19-year-old kitchen maid Augustine (SOKO) who suffers a seizure and is put under the care of Dr. Charcot (Vincent Lindon). She becomes his prize patient, with the doctor hypnotizing her in front of colleague and putting on displays of her spectacular fits. But soon enough, the doctor/patient relationship takes on a much more personal dimension. For a list of current U.S. theaters showing Augustine, visit: http://www.musicboxfilms.com/augustine-movies-66.php.
SOKO has collaborated and toured with artists ranging from Santigold, Nouvelle Vague, Daniel Johnston, Spike Jonze (short film), M.I.A., Ariel Pink, Cornershop, Pete Doherty, the Go! Team and many others. Currently in the U.S. for a promo trek, SOKO will soon announce plans for a nationwide music tour soon.
Following is the complete tracklisting for SOKO’s I THOUGHT I WAS AN ALIEN:
1) “I Just Want To Make It New With You”
2) “I Thought I Was An Alien”
3) “People Always Look Better In The Sun”
4) “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow”
5) “No More Home, No More Love…”
6) “For Marlon”
7) “First Love Never Die”
8) “Treat Your Woman Right”
9) “How Are You??”
10) “Don’t You Touch Me”
11) “Destruction Of The Disgusting Ugly Hate”
12) “Happy Hippie Birthday”
13) “I’ve Been Alone Too Long”
14) “Why Don’t You Eat Me Now, You Can”