Feel the Color of Soko’s Emotions

Feel the Color of Soko’s Emotions

Feel the Color of Soko’s Emotions

How SOKO Flipped Off Negativity to Create Her Multifaceted New Sound.

How SOKO Flipped Off Negativity to Create Her Multifaceted New Sound.

Photography: Cameron McCool

Text: Laura Sanchez

“I’m like four years pregnant,” says SOKO with a laugh, two weeks before the release of Feel Feelings. But it’s not her baby Indigo who she’s referring to—it’s her third studio album that took almost four years to see the light. The French multi-hyphenate released Feel Feelings this past week after a few years in the making. The song “Now What” was recorded at a time when the singer-songwriter-musician-actress-model felt she had accomplished more than she had ever dreamed of. Feeling locked in a spiral, SOKO felt something was missing. 

Today, a couple of years after writing that song the artist has found more—she’s the mother of a curly-haired, blue-eyed ‘little alien,’ named Indigo Blue, and has a loving partner, Stella Leoni. 

Soko wears Gucci throughout.

Back in 2017, the LA-based artist underwent a creative process that she has described as “digest and regurgitate." Part of her process included a week-long residential and personal growth retreat at Hoffman Institute “that helps participants identify negative behaviors, moods, and ways of thinking that developed unconsciously and were conditioned in childhood.” They then help you become conscious of and disconnected from negative patterns and make significant positive changes in your life. 

“They talk about not using crutches as a distraction, like your phone, running, watching TV or whatever it is that you're used to doing to not sit still with yourself and your emotions,” explains SOKO about the retreat process. “And one of the things I was doing to not sit still is that I believed that my worth was determined on whether or not I was being loved by someone in a relationship. It was a huge shift for me to realize that I am myself enough, that I don't need the validation of someone to feel good about myself.”

As an avid proponent of therapy and self-improvement, SOKO started by changing patterns and took a break from intimate and emotional connections. At that same time, she began recording her third album. SOKO describes how a period of voluntary celibacy allowed her to redirect all her energy towards music, and truly focus on herself. 

“My creativity was pouring, she says with excitement. “I was just waking up every morning, stoked to be making music. Stoked to see Patrick Wimberly who I was working with and to make music with him. To call my friends and ask if they wanted to come over to play music. I turned my life into this quest for validation into just being playful. Accepting that my friends, my work, my creativity, and my family was enough and that made me thrive.”

SOKO worked with a very talented group of friends. Friends like Patrick Wimberly of Chairlift, James Richardson of MGMT, James Righton (ex-Klaxons), and Drew McConnell of Babyshambles. Although she admits that it can be intimidating to break through a male-dominated industry, SOKO feels that it was during the recording of this album that her confidence and musicality flourished and she owned it. “I felt like finally, my message was coming through,” she says. 

‘Feel Feelings’ is a 12-track compilation of vulnerability, positivity, and warmth. “I wanted the whole record to be about the entire spectrum of emotions,” SOKO explains. "To me, that's where you find the magic, if you're just always happy you don't ever have that moment of finding the silver lining. And there's no place to grow when you're just stuck in one way or one color. To me the rainbow reflects that—the magic is created with both the sun and the rain.”

SOKO encourages others to allow themselves to feel sad, to be happy, and angry—to be vulnerable. One of her opening tracks, “Being Sad is Not A Crime,” addresses that exactly. “So don't make me the bad guy,” sings SOKO, as she is taken away by the ‘SAD Police’ in the accompanying video directed by Gilbert Trejo, featuring the adorable, baby Indigo. “If more people were out there living their true selves in the open and accepting to have ups and downs then there probably would be less stigma around mental health,” states SOKO.

Then there’s “Blasphémie,” SOKO’s first song ever written in French. A dreamy, yet haunting poetic drama about taking something beautiful and ruining it. The sound is reminiscent of Air’s ‘10,000 Hz Legend.’ It’s a song that she never intended to record in her native language, but later realized that this experience she had lived in French couldn’t be translated. 

And like the spectrum of emotions, her album has lighter notes too. SOKO’s, “Oh To Be A Rainbow,”—which she has proclaimed as her gay anthem— is a joyous, tender song about self-love and acceptance. She self-directed the color-saturated video that shows a more playful SOKO, one that has grown to better love herself. 

Originally the album was scheduled to be released mid June, but when the Black Lives Matter movement started gaining more traction, SOKO decided to step back and postpone the release date in support and solidarity. Now a month later the French singer/songwriter has finally given birth to a hi-fi compilation of emotions and self-reflection.

Now, as she closes a chapter, she enters a new phase in her life. Ironically, as while discussing motherhood and next steps, she pauses, “mon amour,” she says to her baby boy and continues speaking in French to make sure he’s ok and once she secures his safety she continues chatting. 

So now what’s next for SOKO? “Now the dream is to see him [Indigo] experience everything for the first time. And that's what I get the most joy in life,” she says softly and blissfully.

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