Feature Friday alum SØF is back with a brand new single, “XO.” Still sassy, SØF takes a strong stab at fast-singing and rapping in the bridge of the track, revealing yet another layer of her skills and artistry.
On the track, SØF says “I wanted to save “XO” for last in my ‘Singles Series’ because it’s definitely the most different out of all the songs I’ve released thus far. This whole project has been about discovering myself as an artist, defying genres and taking risks, and I think “XO” encompasses all of those things.”
Read more about how SØF got her start and dive into the meaning behind “XO.”
How did you get your start?
Well, I’ve been singing for basically my whole life. I participated in talent shows and competitions as a kid, and when I became a teenager I took on the role of lead vocalist in a rock band formed by a music school I was attending. After the band broke up, I went off on my own as “Sofia Nicole” and began by performing at open mics. That eventually led me to making connections in the Jersey music scene, and that sort of propelled me to where I am now.
Who or what has inspired your sound and latest track “XO?”
The whole story is a very personal one (and probably too long to share anyway), but here’s the gist:
I was in a relationship with a guy who didn’t know what he wanted. We were having a lot of back and forth– too much, actually, and it was driving me crazy. One day he wanted to be with me and the next day he didn’t. I was sick of it, but I couldn’t bring myself to end things either, because I was so stuck on him. I started thinking about our vacillation as a never-ending game of tic tac toe. When you’re up against someone who plays the game as well as you do, you’ll always tie. There’s no resolution. You’re just stuck until someone lets the other person win. And neither of us wanted to take that hit.
In terms of sound, I took a lot of R&B and hip hop influences for this song in particular. The beat and underlying synths feel super rhythmic while the electric guitars are more indie. The bridge is where I really took a risk, but I’m glad that I chose to save this song for last because it feels good to end on a bang like that.
My sound in general is influenced by a ton of genres, and with the first six debut singles I’ve released so far this year, I decided to just try everything I could production-wise until I landed in a sweet spot. It’s been a lot of trial and error, but I have my entire career to pigeon-hole myself, right?
Is there a story behind your artist name?
Yes, but it isn’t really a good one. I had been going by the name Sofia Nicole (my actual name) for several years before I decided I wanted to change up my sound and image. I wanted something short and sweet, but also a little mysterious and “indie.” My boyfriend jokingly wrote “SØF” in the Notes app on my phone, alluding to other artists like BØRNS, MØ and twenty øne piløts (who, by the way, made their name look like that AFTER I had already changed my stage name. Just saying!) Anyway, he meant it as a joke, but I thought it looked rad so I just made it SØF (pronounced Sof)! The rest is history.
What is your favorite show memory?
Probably this past weekend when I performed at The Lantern Fest in Philadelphia! I was scheduled to have a full backing band: drums, keys, bass, guitar, and even a backup singer! But as the show date began approaching we started running into complications. No sweat though, I have other musicians I can utilize instead! Well, turns out that didn’t work either. So, finally, it was a week before the show and I was desperate. I managed to lock in two more musicians but roughly an hour before the show I was given the news that I would no longer have accompaniment. I was crushed. I was scheduled to open TWO days of this festival, with an hour set each day, and I had no one to back me up. Obviously there was nothing more I could do with only an hour to spare, so I got up onstage in front of over 11,000 people and told them that I had been canceled on and I needed everyone to be extra loud for me because I was alone on the stage. To my surprise, people cheered their heads off and I was elated to find the crowd giving me more energy than I could possibly have dreamed of. Both dates were nothing short of phenomenal. People sang along, came up afterward and asked for pictures, and even followed me on social media immediately after my sets. It felt surreal knowing that all of those people were cheering for me— a grand total of over 21,000 people encompassing both days– and I didn’t even need a band. I totally kicked ass. That moment was exhilarating for me.
What would be your dream tour and why?
That’s an impossible question to answer because I have way too many artist obsessions. Dream tour would be a completely sold out world tour with different openers for each city (hand-picked of course), and surprise guest performances from current favorites as well as childhood favorites like Hilary Duff, P!nk and Alanis Morissette. Oh, and I want cool stage props. The more gimmicky the better.
Tell us about your writing process; any unusual quirks?
I wouldn’t say there’s anything too unusual about my writing process, other than maybe the fact that I go for extremely long periods of time not writing anything at all, and then busting out like 5 songs in one sitting.
I write primarily with my acoustic guitar, and I have a long concept list of lyrics, song titles, and random ideas that I carry with me pretty much everywhere.
I need a lot of silence, which is probably a little strange for songwriting, but other than that I think I’ve got a pretty straight-forward process.
What’s your favorite song to cover?
“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette. It’s gritty, unapologetic, and the most fun I ever have performing a cover song.
If you were to create a “soundtrack to your life,” what songs would be on it?
I used to think about this ALL the time when I was a kid. Top five songs would definitely be:
- Art Exhibit by Young The Giant
- A Haunting by Jr Jr
- Pretend That You’re Alone by Keane
- Perfect World by Broken Bells
- Line of Fire by Junip
These are all songs that have meant a lot to me at some point in time– all for different reasons, but important nonetheless.
Would you like to add anything else?
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today! To whoever may be reading this: I love you immensely and I really hope you enjoy my last single for this project.