LA-based singer-songwriter Sofia Wolfson is unafraid to blend gritty, introspective songwriting with upbeat soundscapes. Her newest track ‘Billboard’, out today (June 24th), boasts a dreamy setup and explores bad dreams and distorted memories. Speaking to RIOT, the 20-year-old rising talent, delves into the inspiration behind her upcoming track, shares a message of comfort with her listeners, reveals the motto she lives by and much more.
What was the inspiration/message behind ‘ Billboard’?
I got the idea for ‘Billboard’ when I walked past a billboard in New York and thought I saw someone I knew on it. That got me reflecting on several dissociative experiences I was having at the time. The song walks through a series of bad dreams and my attempt to connect them to each other. I think the message is that it can be really hard to navigate situations in your life, but it’s important to know when it’s the right time to change your routine, even if it feels like an impossible task.
Who inspires you both personally and professionally?
Personally, I’m really inspired by my younger sister. She’s one of the most talented and focused people I’ve ever met. She goes to the arts high school I went to and studies film – I’m constantly in awe of the things her and her friends are able to produce. And during quarantine she started sewing – all of a sudden she has enough pieces for a whole entire collection! She’s constantly surprising me and that’s what I find so inspiring about her: her ability to be unpredictable and adaptable, to constantly find new passions and to forever be in the process of learning.
I’ve recently been inspired by albums I’ve had on constant rotation during quarantine, like Muna’s Saves the World, Christian Lee Hutson’s Beginners, and Perfume Genius’s Set My Heart on Fire Immediately. All of these albums have inspired me to be more thoughtful and precise about lyrics while writing during this pretty uncertain time.
What’s one motto you live and create by?
When in doubt, listen to Elliott Smith and have a necessary cry and then get back to work.
What’s the best part of making music? What’s frustrating about it?
I find writing music to be very therapeutic. Sometimes I’ll write about stuff I didn’t even know I was feeling. In the same way, being in the studio, hearing songs come to life also has the same effect. It’s the feeling of something from deep in your subconscious now existing outside of yourself, which is scary but also healing. Probably the most frustrating part is just getting started when it feels impossible to do so. I go through periods where I find it difficult to write but I just have to remind myself that creativity comes in waves.
How would you describe your sound and how do you see it evolving with time?
Right now, my sound is kind of like sad alternative folk-inspired music. I’m unsure how it will evolve, but I do know that I want to make a lot of different music. I want to make a punk album, maybe under a different name. I just don’t want to be confined to a single genre.
If listeners could take away one message from your music, what would you want it to be?
It’s ok to be sad!
What’s next for you? What’s on your bucket list?
It’s hard to know right now with coronavirus but indoors, I’m hoping to write more and make a plan for making a record. And once we can play shows again, I can’t wait to go back over to the UK. I went on a tour in January of this year that I really miss – it was probably the best experience I’ve had playing live music.
The bucket list for me is difficult because I have a hard time setting goals; it’s just in my personality to doubt everything. But I would love to one day play at this theatre I grew up going to called Largo. And I would love to talk about literature with my favourite author Ottessa Moshfegh.