Get A Glimpse at SOPHIE’s Whimsical “Ponyboy” World

Get A Glimpse at SOPHIE’s Whimsical “Ponyboy” World

Rising electronic artist SOPHIE gives a rare interview and shares some behind-the-scenes photos from the set of her new single "Ponyboy".

Rising electronic artist SOPHIE gives a rare interview and shares some behind-the-scenes photos from the set of her new single "Ponyboy".

Text: Sydney Gore

Ever since SOPHIE popped up with the futuristic synth tune “Bipp” back in 2013, the electronic music scene has transformed from a fist-pumping rave to an enchanting space where emotions run free on the dance floor. Today, the British producer returned with a biting new single called “Ponyboy.” The accompanying music video is a self-directed visual that was filmed during SOPHIE’s live debut at Red Bull Music Academy Festival in Los Angeles this past October.

“Ponyboy” blares through the speakers like a siren going off, but the only emergency here is trying to stay on beat. Much of SOPHIE’s appeal over the years has been her commitment to maintaining this veil of mystery, but she finally revealed herself in the mesmerizing video for “It’s Okay To Cry.” Consider the producer’s latest single as a warning that SOPHIE season is approaching.

SOPHIE was kind enough to share a handful of behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot exclusively with V. The producer rarely does interviews, but she was willing to take some time out of her day to chat with us about what went down on the set. The long-awaited follow-up to her 2015 record Product is underway; in the meantime, swipe through the gallery and get to know a little more about SOPHIE.

You recently performed live at Red Bull Music Academy in LA. How are you feeling right now following that whole experience?

I feel pretty great with how all of that went down, and in life I’m having fun. Yeah, I’m just continuing to work on the rest of new music and I’m excited.

How have you been feeling about the reactions and feedback toward “It’s OK To Cry” since you put it out?

The part that’s meant the most to me is quite a few people have been writing to me and telling me how much it’s meant to me and it’s helped them through different situations. That’s a really sweet reaction. It seems to elicited a lot of feelings in people and willingness to talk about things, so that's a really great outcome. It feels really good.

What was your vision for the “Ponyboy” video and how were you able to execute it?

I mean, it felt very bodily and habitual. The song was my interpretation of feeling and listening to music so it was important to use drums. I also immediately thought of my friends FlucT who are a choreography artist duo from Baltimore and New York. The way that they can characterize a sound, [the song] made me think of their types of movement so I reached out to them about interpreting it together. We wanted to take it into a dark, oily space with the original… It’s so important to manifest the two axes or the poles of the rest of the album and force them out and open up the space between them. As with a lot of things I try to do, essentially allowing them to be the same thing. Does that make sense?

What are you trying to express or convey through the song?

It's a playful song, but it's a bit hard. It's bodily and sexual. It also plays a bit with characters in the same way that you might do in certain sexual dynamics. I wanted to give it that feeling to people.

Where did the name “Ponyboy” come from?

Well, it was a range of things actually. I heard it from a friend of mine who told me about a group of people where he grew up in Detroit who called themselves Pony Boys that souped up Nitro cars. Those are particularly a role in some sexual deviance dynamics as well.  I was interested in them because it was a kind of short narrative and also the sounds I was trying to make it sound like. A mechanical pony is in-between an animal and a car, and it’s like bodily temptation, things like that. Somewhere in that world, which is really one of the central things for what the record seems to be like.

For some reason when I first saw the words it reminded me of the mechanical horses on carousels.

Oh yeah, I like that.

You know, you run around to try to pick the "best one"... I don't know why, but that's what came to mind for me!

I like that. I think that another fun thing about it is that it's the words that I'm seeing, I'm hearing more. So it seems to be quite loose in its definition. I'm really interested in words like that. You know, I'm not trying to hide the genders. [Words] that seem to be there for defining and seem to mean something else for people. It seems like a lubricated term or something.

I’m excited for the new material that you have coming up. Could you tell me more about what to expect next?

The “Ponyboy” single is coming out next because it's the other bit of the pole of the record. Sort of everything I'm interested in happens on that axiseverything I'm interested in this material happens on that axis and so I was really excited to tour "It's Okay to Cry" and "Ponyboy." I feel they would have come out close together as well so I really want them to be seen next to each other.

And, like I said, something that particularly interested me is allowing those things to actually be the same thing. We're talking about something aggressive and bodily, we're talking about something internal and emotional, and really, not keeping those two things mutually exclusive. I suppose in the music we would like to bring those all together. It's a record that explores a lot of those themes and then between those themes. I think you get that impression more in the live show as well when you see these themes right next to each other and juxtaposed.

I saw you perform once while on tour with Cashmere Cat and it was such a great set, but I heard that your RBMA LA performance was out of this world.

Aww, thank you. Yeah, that was fun... I've been trying to present my music in that way and saying more and giving more and having more materials to play with to make a presentation. Contextualize the music. I really hope to do more of that.

I think it's interesting with producers because for singers it's boring if they just stand there and sing. They have to learn how to dance to keep an audience engaged. But with producers, it's more about creating an experience. Some artists go in the direction of just doing the lights and not really interacting while others sort of do both.

Yeah, absolutely. It's just a shame that there's sort of logistical restrictions that are sometimes placed on your ideas. But I was pretty confident in that show, I got fairly close to what I had in mind. It felt so good that it translated because then people were able to receive the things that I was trying to implant in the music for them.

This is a two-part question... What are some things that you are hoping to accomplish in the new year and in general as an artist?

Well, I think the first one might be slightly easier to answer… Definitely performing the live show more often, continuing to develop that, and adding new sections to it. To keep on collaborating with my friends from Cecile Believe and FluCt who inspire me a lot and who are part of the team putting this whole show together. I'm excited to have that kind of play. I also have a lot of SOPHIE music that is going to be coming out and I'm just really interested to have the range of things I'm interested in out in the world. I definitely think that will definitely keep me going for another year or so. On top, of that of course I have my production work which is always inspiring for mecollaborations with other people. That kind of runs side by side. As an artist, continuing to explore the theme which I spoke about in my music and through everything I do, and presenting things that weren't there beforesonic and visual ideas that weren't there before that seem important and relevant and urge conversations to be had culturally. If I can continue to do that then I'll be satisfied.

You are very good at maintaining a low profile and keeping your personal life out of everything, which I really respect. But what would you say is one thing that you really want people to know about SOPHIE?

That I really appreciate anyone that has given any of my ideas time or has taken the time to get to know my ideas or interacts in any sort of way, positive or negative toward it. And the people that have experienced relationships with, all of those people. I mean, I think that's one thing that is the same whenever I do concerts or something I get the opportunity to speak to people at the show and I’m so excited to talk about everything, but I just don't think feel like it's often the right time for me to do that, but I love connecting with people and that's really my intention behind everything. I really value and appreciate the music experience.

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