Montreal-based artist, singer, and producer Sophia Bel grew up on the mysterious sounds of trip-hop and drum ‘n’ bass. In the era of Britney and Christina, these musical icons inspired Sophia’s own brand of jagged pop, also referencing blink-182, Good Charlotte, and Avril Lavigne as inspirations behind her unique sonic bricolage.
Her new release “You’re Not Real You’re Just A Ghost” is an ode to the misunderstood teenager from the 2000’s pop-punk era–a moody anthem from the perspective of someone who’s been ghosted. “I wanted to explore the accumulation of repressed angst that was evoked when rediscovering the bands of my teenage years,” she offers. “‘You’re Not Real You’re Just a Ghost’ is a satirical take on the frustrations caused by a general lack of communication in relationships.”
The proliferation of dating apps has only enhanced this tendency towards cutting communicative ties, and for Sophia, this lack of personable dialogue is preventing us from developing meaningful and heartfelt relationships.
Every song she writes is about something real – an experience or scattered thought brought to life. The video follows Sophia around empty suburban streets, the monolithic blocks cut with the natural beauty of the green landscape, lush and teeming with life amongst the backdrop of the bleak city.
With inspiration from underground electronic music, skater punk, guitar folk, and even Quebecois hippie music, we chatted with the young artist to find out more about her rich sonic landscape.
How was it working with JF Suave on the new video for “You’re Not Real You’re Just A Ghost”?
It was really fun diving into the angsty nostalgia with JF’s colourful ideas! I like how he created a scrapbook of suburban imagery, finding magic in the mundane.
You mention pop-punk acts such as blink-182, Good Charlotte, and Avril Lavigne as prominent inspirations in your work. Why do you find this era so artistically inspiring?
I like to rediscover music of my past because it makes me nostalgic and brings back so many memories and emotions. Also, I miss studded belts and fingerless gloves.
Ghosting has become an infamous trait of online dating. Why did you choose to vent these particular frustrations on lack of communication?
I feel like a lot of people in my generation are so accustomed to playing games instead of being honest and communicative that it makes it hard to develop meaningful and healthy connections. I think we do it out of fear. Fear of losing someone, fear of being vulnerable, fear of moving too fast too intensely.
Are there any new artists that you’ve discovered over lockdown that you think people should add to their playlists?
Lately, I’ve been into goth and new age stuff, like The Cure, Joy Division and New Order. When it comes to new artists, I think everyone should check out Laurence Anne, I’m obsessed!
Every song of yours has been about something real in your life. Why do you think it’s important to draw on these experiences?
For me personally, I write about my experiences because it’s always been a therapeutic way to exteriorize my emotions and frustrations. I like art that speaks from the heart, I think you can really feel when something comes from an authentic place, whether it be a true story or a fiction inspired by one’s experience.
You draw on a huge range of musical styles, from skater punk to Quebecois hippie music. Why do you like to fuse all these elements into your production process?
I don’t consciously think about fusing specific styles together, It just happens naturally. It’s usually in retrospect that I hear the influences.
This is the first track from your new project Princess of the Dead Vol.2 – could you tell us a little more about the significance of this name?
It started when a few bullies in high school liked to harass and embarrass me. I was an easy target, being super shy with emo tendencies, so they called me “Princess of The Dead” to make fun of my pale skin and black nail polish. When I started working on the songs that are in the Vol. 1, I was in the process of healing from those old memories. It felt good to reappropriate the name because it’s kind of badass when you think about it! Vol. 1 was like a “renaissance”, an honest look at one’s self and one’s traumas with a clearer and kinder perspective. Vol. 2 is a “where do we go from here?” moment, we are learning how to communicate, how to stand up for ourselves, how to be vulnerable.
CONNECT WITH SOPHIA BEL
photos / JF Suavé
story / LADYGUNN STAFF