Following a string of releases as both a solo artist and part of a band, producer and songwriter Sophocles.S has carved out a unique pathway in modern music.
We caught up with the creative behind the projects to find out more about the sound, what drives things, and what lies ahead. Here’s how it went.
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Hey – great to be able to talk with you about your music, thanks for the opportunity! For those new to your sound, what’s the creative intention of Sophocles.S?
I want to do everything. I want to be everything, and that’s unrealistic at worst and extremely hard at best. But I want to make all kinds of art, all kinds of music. And I think that it’d be a little silly to create all these personas and social media handles so that I could keep my efforts to make techno, or hip hop, or whatever separate. And the more I thought about it, and what to call the project, I felt like using my real name would be for the better. Because it’s all me.
Obviously I want to collaborate and not just be the only one doing everything because I don’t buy into the “lone-genius” trope. Every “genius” has had help in one way or another, and being able to accept help, let alone ask for it, is testament to who’s a real artist and who’s just on an ego trip.
End of the day, this project is about me, my thoughts on the world, and the things I have to say. Hop Hop is modern philosophy, and rappers are philosophers, talking about how they view the world and themselves in it.
Techno, at least the kind that I like and want to make, is about distilling everything about music to its bare minimum. It’s primal, it’s meant to make you dance and not think. To lose yourself in the moment. And I want to make people move. Whether it’s through a sick beat, or a bangin’ techno track, I want to make people move their feet, their body first and foremost.
“What’s not to like? Hear some lyrical heavy hip hop and then a chance to dance yourself clean.”
Hello World was our introduction – heavy production, dance vibes and nostalgic rap tones intertwined – what inspired this eclectic approach, was it another artist’s freedom of style, or a combination of influences?
It’s a little bit of both. Definitely my influences, definitely the sense of freedom some artists choose to have and create what they want regardless of expectations and trends, and there was also a “why not?” factor to it.
I think Kanye’s said he always wanted to make a house record. Maybe his efforts in hip hop have made a box around him that’s harder to divert from. But I don’t have that box. I don’t have a fanbase. So I have the opportunity to do something different, and since I don’t want to split up my artistic endeavours into multiple projects and personalities, I will keep both sounds in my records.
What’s not to like? Hear some lyrical heavy hip hop and then a chance to dance yourself clean.
The three-track EP All I Need followed things up with production weight and intensity that was still unpredictable. What can you tell us about H.M.B.S – what led to that bold vocal line, and what does the track represent?
Oh wow that’s nice of you to say, thank you. So that track is a little interesting. My brother and I created a drum sound through our analog machines. Then I sequenced it into a 120bpm four-on-the-floor beat. And then I sent that beat to friends asking for help. I asked a friend to create a bassline to it. I asked another friend to add a sample to it. I then asked around for some more help on melodies etc but I think some people found the project hard to understand. My sample friend in the end just sent me a song, which I chopped and laid on the track.
The first meaning of the song is in the title: Heart Mind Body Soul, which I think are the elements of a techno or hip hop song. Heart is the beat, Mind is the melody, Body is the bass, Soul is the voice. And then outside of that meaning, it’s a bit about me too. I can’t quit music. I can’t quit being an artist. I’ve tried but here I am. And this time I’m going for it.
Your solo work is notably different to the more organic, anthemic music you produce with Jeb Busch Lite. How do the two experiences compare for you as a performer and songwriter, and do you ever feel at odds with the mood or style of one in favour of the other, depending on your emotional state?
Thankfully I’m able to keep it separate because they are two totally different things. Sophocles.S is more ego driven. It’s more about me and my direction. Jeb Busch Lite is all about what it means to be in a band. A handful of people coming together to make music and express themselves together. It’s about rock n’ roll purity. Live recording, good-natured, fun, cathartic, and punk.
Sophocles.S is a distillation of everything else I’ve wanted to do in music outside of rock n’ roll. I’ve always wanted to produce hip hop and techno, and jungle and d&b. But instead of trying to drag people into it and having to force my ego on them and have it be like Gorillaz or LCD Soundsystem, I’m just going to do it by myself and with whomever is inspired to help along the way.
You also create graphic novels, on top of everything else – how do you keep yourself driven and focused when stretched between so many creative outlets?
Well that’s a good question. I try to keep some things separate. I basically was working on two graphic novels since 2013. And I wrapped book two in 2020, and I’m giving myself this time to explore everything else I’ve wanted to do creatively before starting book three. So It’s like I have all this pent up creativity and desire to make music, which I follow up on.
“We owe each other decency & respect. In Greece we call that ‘Filotimo’ – something I’d like to impart on the world.”
Why did you choose the theme of togetherness as something to explore in storytelling?
Because we’re all in this together, whether people like that fact or not. The adage of “I don’t owe you anything” is garish and bullshit. We owe eachother decency and respect. In Greece we call that “Filotimo” (look it up, it’s heavy and deep) – it’s something I’d like to impart on the world.
Is there any crossover in topic or mood when switching from graphic novel creation to songwriting?
I call most art exorcism. I had recurring stress dreams involving zombies for years until I started working on the books at which point they stopped.
Music is an exorcism of feelings and thoughts that I can’t keep bottled up, and instead of letting those destroy me I try to get them out in the form of a song, or a feeling; a vibe if you will.
Does your artistry manifest itself in any other ways?
I do film photography and phonetography (I came up with that term btw), videography (super 8 mostly), furniture making/design, product design and fashion. I’ve got a startup streetwear brand / charity called Earth Team One that I’m trying to bridge with my music efforts.
What’s the main thing you’d want new fans to know about you?
I will always try to keep it real and transparent. It’s not about the money, it’s about freedom. It’s about trust and respect. If people decide to support me financially then it’s my job to keep creating and making things, because ultimately that’s what I want – the time, money, and freedom to make things of value without having to worry about where my rent or food is going to come from and wasted hours on a spreadsheet for a company that doesn’t give a shit about me.
“Music is an exorcism of feelings & thoughts that I can’t keep bottled up, and instead of letting those destroy me I try to get them out in the form of a song, or a feeling; a vibe if you will.”
What’s your plan of action as an artist in 2022?
Record my debut album for Sophocles.S and the sophomore album for JBL, figure out where I want to live full-time or if I want to be a more home-base nomad, apply to grad school, and writing the script for my third graphic novel.
Oh and living life, yknow? Hella camping, go on a couple of road trips, maybe even record the album in a location outside of my studio. Take like two weeks somewhere to just focus on that and escape my routine.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’d just like to say thanks to you for the opportunity, thanks to everyone that’s helped me or been there for me in any way, and thank you to anyone who gives my work the time of day. Stay safe, see you out there.
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