At 22 years old, Sophia Black is ready to take the pop world by storm. The first time I heard “Real Shit” featuring KYLE, I could not stop listening. I wanted more. Next thing you know, I see her name featured on KYLE’s “Ikuyo” alongside 2 Chainz, another feel-good record for the books. Read more…
Being able to speak three different languages is a mere bonus to her sweet, bubbly personality. Growing up in a musically-inclined household, Black knew she always wanted to entertain. With an unspoken commitment to stay true to herself, it’s Sophia’s unwavering positive energy combined with her artsy, one-of-a-kind style that fans can’t help but fall in love with.
Now, we wait patiently for her forthcoming Hi, Sweetie EP.
For those who don’t know, who is Sophia Black?
I am Sophia Black [laughs]. Just a happy weirdo from Los Angeles. I think that’s the best way to put it.
Where do you fit in the realm of R&B and hip-hop?
I think I’m on the cusp of R&B and hip-hop meets pop. I’m in the black hole space in between the two worlds.
You’re fluent in both Japanese and French. Can you talk about your roots and how that plays into your life and career?
I went to a French school in Los Angeles called Le Lycée Français from preschool to 12th grade. So I went there my entire life, and that’s how I learned how to speak French. And Japanese, my mom’s Japanese so I grew up with it as my first language. Watched a bunch of Japanese TV shows…
Are you into anime?
Oh my God, yes! But I’m so basic. I just love like Sailor Moon. [laughs]
Being an LA native, how important is it to come here as an up and coming artist?
Ummm… honestly, it depends. If you have a team of people who push you and who work with you, you could be in Idaho. As long as you’re working and being the most you, I don’t think it matters anymore where you live. As long as you’re releasing music and doing your shit, you could live anywhere.
Who were your biggest influences growing up?
I have a lot of influences. Both my parents are musicians. My mom is an orchestrator. She composes for movies in Japan. And my dad does everything. He’s worked with Prince, he’s worked with Chaka Khan — he’s just a musician. But my first introduction to music was listening to a lot of Bjork, Stevie Wonder, and Kraftwerk. So it’s a weird combination of music. And also Japanese pop, like 90’s and early 2000’s Japanese pop. English and Japanese songs in the early 2000’s in Japan pop was like a huge thing, so I grew up listening to just “Janglish” songs.
What was your moment when you realized this was what you wanted to do?
I think very, very early on since I was three, I would just love to entertain people. I didn’t fully understand like “this is a career path,” but I loved entertaining people. For example, my mom put me in a piano class at Yamaha Music School. That’s where you take piano class with like 12 kids. So during practice while everybody was playing on piano and stuff, I would be in the center of the room just twirling and dancing.
But when we got on stage to perform, all the kids got really shy and were crying and stuff, but me and like one other kid would be the only person actually playing. So I don’t know, I just think at a very young age I always knew I wanted to entertain people. But, professionally I started when I was 14.
“Real Shit” featuring KYLE is a vibe. Can you talk about the making of the record?
I was in the studio with Kool Kojak and Shea Taylor, they’re both amazing producers. I went into the studio and we just started vibing around. And then Shea took my vocals and put it into this plug-in that turns it into a keyboard. So that “da-da-da”, that’s Shea with my voice playing. It was 2016 at the time, and I wanted to make a current version lyrically — not sonically, but lyrically — of Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic,” where she just lists a bunch of shitty things that happen. [laughs] And so I wanted to make the same thing, but call it “Real Shit.”
I’m super obsessed with memes, I know that’s kind of ridiculous to say. I think internet culture is hilarious. I wanted to incorporate that somehow. So with that in mind, I wrote “Real Shit.” But also, I have to put a positive twist on everything. So I was like, “Yes, in life, all these things happen that could be really annoying to you, but at the end of the day, those things happening to you make up your personality and are essential to building your character.”
It used to be like a five-minute song. I rapped at one point in it, but I was like meh. So after the song was made, I saw Kyle, and I was like, “Hey, I have this song ‘Real Shit,’ do you want to do it?” I played him the song, and he was just like “Fuck yeah.” And he came through.
Talk about your relationship with KYLE and what the dynamic is like in the studio.
Oh my gosh. We’re both very aggressively positive people. [laughs] So in the studio, it’s super fun. Just happy, joke vibes. And Naz, our producer, is also the ultimate homie. It’s just friends. It’s really fun how you can be in the studio and write with your friends. It’s crazy how me and Kyle kind of met.
How did you guys meet?
Basically, when Kyle was working on Smyle, he tweeted out, “Does anybody speak Japanese?” And our mutual friend Nate Fox was like, “Yeah @Sophartso,” which is my Twitter. So then I met Kyle. I went to the studio and what was supposed to be an hour-long thing, we just hung out for the rest of the night in the studio just vibing and recording a bunch of shit. I don’t think he ended up using anything on Smyle, but I did meet an awesome friend.
Talk about your new project Hi, Sweetie. What does the title resemble?
So going back to the whole internet culture thing Hi, Sweetie is when someone says something to you just to get your attention, but what they’re saying is so stupid. Like for example on Halloween, I had a bunch of skull makeup on and some guy was like “So what’s on your face?” I’m like “What do you mean, what’s on my face?” [Laughs]…makeup. So that guy just “Hi, Sweetie’d” me.
And also “Hi, Sweetie” is what guys say in like DMs and stuff. They’re just like “Hi, Sweetie,” and it’s just like “Fuck you.” So I thought it’d be funny if I was saying that as a female to my significant other or someone I’m trying to start a relationship with. That’s why I wanted to call the EP, Hi, Sweetie. All the lyrics are very like, “You should date me because of this reason.”
Do you check your DMs?
Ummm, kind of. I check my DMs, but any time someone’s trying to be thirsty in my DMs, I just roll my eyes very loudly.
What do you want fans to get from your story?
Another thing besides the title and the concept, I wanted to create this vibe of listening to your favorite CD in your room, at 3 a.m. texting your crush. And not caring about double texting, not caring about any rules and shit. Just like, “fuck that, I’m going to be me.” I want people to know they can do that. You don’t have to follow text rules or social media rules or all that shit. Just be you.
Another thing is there’s five tracks and there’s five interludes. The interludes I actually produced myself. My favorite thing growing up was listening to a full album on a CD, and clicking through all the songs to get to that one song. Hearing all the first like three seconds.
I miss CD’s.
Yeah, just the clicks of the buttons and the sound of CDs rotating. I wanted to create that experience for people who are streaming it on Spotify because you can’t get that sound anymore. I kind of wanted to make this ASMR-type vibe.
You’re only 22. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I want to be able to have crossed over Japan culture and American culture successfully. I feel like both worlds have always wanted to interconnect. I feel like America loves Japan culture and vice versa, so I’d love to be able to make those worlds connect. I don’t know where I’ll be in 10 years. Hopefully just making people happy with music still.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I think about this all the time. I don’t know what I’d be doing but something to help people. Maybe a psychiatrist or nutritionist or something. Something where I can help people and help people come through their emotions.
3 things you need in the studio?
Water. This is going to be such a boring answer. [laughs] Throat Coat tea, which is like singers’ lean. Whether you’re sick or not, if you’re a singer, you should be drinking Throat Coat tea every single day. It’s a miracle worker. So water, Throat Coat tea, and… my phone ‘cause I write lyrics on it. And snacks. Hot Cheetos probably. [laughs]
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Okay, this is going to sound so cheesy — and I’m not just saying this because he’s my friend — but legit KYLE. Light of Mine, I’ve just been playing it over and over. Also I’m really into Hiatus Kaiyote.They’re so good. I’m so obsessed with them. Recently, I’ve been playing Saweetie a lot. I was thinking I need to figure out a way to get her on this album. She’s so amazing.
Saweetie. [laughs] But for sure Stevie Wonder. I don’t know how, but it’s just been my dream since I was born. I love him. I don’t know how my music’s going to work with him, but somehow I want to collaborate with Stevie Wonder. I really want to collab with Chance The Rapper. I also want to get on “Japan,” the Famous Dex song. Like a verse in Japanese. I think that’d be super fire.