It’s a unique time to be an artist. With nothing but time and technology, there’s little choice but to get creative. Singer and producer Sola self-directed and edited the video for her new single, Oh My Love, at home. Premiered exclusively on Schön!, her presence is palpable as she poses against a collage of low-fi backdrops.
Sola carries the torch for the golden, experimental era of ’90s R&B. Her sound is gritty and haunting with a clear nod to legendary producer Timbaland. While her vocals are reminiscent of contemporaries like Zsela, and timeless artists like Sade and Nina Simone. Later this year she’s due to release an EP on record label Future Bounce, owned by BBC Radio 1 Xtra DJ Jamz Supernova. The new project is an exciting taster of Sola’s artistry. Her vocals are expressive and her production is a dynamic blend of electronic R&B with classical elements. In an interview with Schön! she discusses why there’s a lack of female visibility in production, how she found her authentic voice, and the freedom of creating on your own time.
How has your creativity been during lockdown?
Up and down. It’s been a mentally straining few months so I’m focusing on being kind to myself. Rest is so underrated. I’ve been focusing on journaling more, finding space to collect thoughts that I can come back to at a less stressful time. On the other hand, [lockdown] has taught me to be more independent. I’ve learnt that there are so many things I’m capable of doing myself which were previously outside my comfort zone.
What inspired the writing and music video for your new single Oh My Love?
Oh My Love is about learning to let go of toxic relationships. The things you love but know are causing you harm. This can manifest in people, addictions, or past memories that you need to let go. The video features references to my favorite 90’s music videos from Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, and Dee-Lite. I wanted it to feel very nostalgic but also fun and care-free.
What was the most enjoyable thing about creating a DIY video?
I can be a control freak so I loved having the power to execute everything from the conception through to the editing. It also was nice to do things on my own timeline without the pressures of other people’s schedules or deadlines. Not needing to spend money on it was also a fun challenge that took off a ton of pressure.
You have a new EP releasing later this year. What themes do you explore and which track feels the most sentimental?
Probably Oh My Love. It’s the oldest song on the project and was written nearly three years ago. It draws from a myriad of personal experiences and emotions I was going through at the time. [The EP] explores the process of healing, maturing into womanhood, and the importance of self-care.
The production on your EP is beautifully experimental and eerie. Try is one of my favourites. Who are some of your creative inspirations?
Thank you! My biggest inspiration is Nina Simone. There’s a haunting rawness to her voice that helped me love and learn to accept my own. She also inspired me to embrace my classical background in my production more. Nocturne [is] a good example of this. The eeriness in the music is really inspired by the works of Portishead and spy-movie soundtracks. I wanted things to sound like they were floating underwater.
Do you have any thoughts on why there’s a lack of female presence in production?
Growing up if you don’t see anyone who looks like you in a space, it’s easy to think you don’t belong there. There are so many women who self-produce without due credit as people often doubt the authorship of a woman’s work. When I first started out I used to get a lot of backhanded compliments from men. I once had an engineer try and take all the production credit for a song I made because he clearly didn’t see us as equals. Things are getting better and there are more and more brilliant women killing it in production. The industry just needs to be better at acknowledging us.
How did you first get drawn to producing?
Production has always been the thing I loved most about listening to music. I also wasn’t comfortable with my voice until later in my musical journey so production allowed me to channel some creativity while I was still finding myself.
When did you begin to find your unique sound?
It was when I started embracing the things deep-rooted within me and stopped limiting myself to other people’s expectations that my music started feeling more authentic. There’s too much pressure on artists to be unique but in reality, nothing is truly unique. We’re all products of our influences. As a result, I prefer the word authentic. When you stay true to yourself and the things that inspire you, the combination of those things will create something organic to you.
What are your hopes for the rest of 2020?
I think I’ve conditioned myself out of hoping for 2020. I’m just taking things day by day. I want human beings as a collective to learn more empathy from all that’s happened. For my music, I hope it can help provide healing for others. I write that in my journal daily so maybe it will manifest.
Check out SOLA’s new music video for ‘Oh My Love’ above, premiered exclusively on Schön!
This Schön! online exclusive has been produced by
photography. Destine Paige
fashion. Tiyana Henriques
make up. Ruby Yu
words. Shama Nasinde
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