And the award for best new artist goes to SOHN. Pronounced like JOHN with an S. Vienna resident SOHN completely blew me away recently with his extraterrestrial compositions and soulful harmonies. If you go to his soundcloud page, there are only a few song posted, but instantly I knew there was something special about SOHN. He went from doing 1 festival last year to now not being able to remember how many shows he has done just this past summer. As if the music wasn't enough, I had the opportunity to ask the new kid on the block a series of super awesome questions and in return I got one of the best interviews I have done to date.
Where were you born? How did you migrate to Vienna? Are you currently living there now?
I was born in London, and lived my first life there. A couple of years ago I was playing shows, kind of a travelling musician, and ended up with some good friends and contacts in Vienna. I decided that in terms of quality of life, I was missing out by being in London, so I relocated. My home has been here ever since.
Your voice has so much soul embedded in it. What music did you grow up listening to? Did you always sing/harmonize?
Thank you... I always harmonized, yeah. I guess that was kind of my thing ever since I was a kid. Harmonizing to Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Buddy Holly (after I saw a musical about him I was kinda obsessed), and then as I started to make my own musical listening choices that became Bjōrk and Radiohead.
How did you get involved in producing and making music?
I guess like most producers - necessity. I didn't have the money, the contacts or the personnel to make what I wanted to when I was a teenager, so I started doing the best I could by myself with whatever I could find. I suppose I've been producing my own music since I was twelve and first started multi-track recordings.
You produced Banks record Waiting Game off her London EP. How did you two meet and how did the that record come about?
Yeah, we've a bit of a history now - I think before her first single was out, my manager had heard "Before I Ever Met You" and sent it to me. I loved the track, and ended up doing a remix of it for her, I think ever since then we both had a feeling we'd work together at some point in the future. There was a special energy meeting in London and making "Waiting Game", and I'd like to think we'll have the chance to work again at some point.
You toured a lot this past summer. What were some of the highlights that you’ll never forget?
It's been a crazy year... The very first show was in 2013 and now I've no idea how many I've played. Really amazing festivals - Roskilde in Denmark was probably my first WOW moment on tour, then they kinda just kept coming. It's an incredible feeling when you realize that your music has reached people all over the globe, and they are fully prepared to be pulled into your world and let you lead the way for the next hour.
What was your favorite country and venue to perform at?
Phew, I'm not sure... there were so many highlights. I'd say there was a tie so far between Roskilde (Denmark), Zurich Open Air (Switzerland), Pukkelpop (Belgium) and Amsterdam. And Paris. And Barcelona. But that was because there is a beach there, and I ate the most amazing meal I've ever had in my life.
Starting November 1st, your going on a 16 date tour including stops in a few states. Have you performed a show in Los Angeles before?
I haven't... I'm so looking forward to being out there... I'm incredibly excited.
Do you have a ritual you do before you go on stage to melt faces?
None at all. I am generally relaxed backstage, and most of the time what happens is I just walk on stage, be myself and do what comes naturally - which feels very healthy.
What have studio sessions been like lately?
You're asking at a good time, as they've just become fun again. I can spend days, weeks with no creative output, followed by the inevitable self-doubt that comes with that. Then suddenly I have hyper-creative spells, when I feel like I'm living in a dream - that's where I'm at right now.
What music is on your ipod right now?
Twin Shadow - Confess, Kanye - Yeezus, Tyler the Creator, Fleetwood Mac, Bilderbuch - Maschine, Paul Simon and Tom Waits.
Are you currently working on a full length album?
As soon as this interview is finished I'm straight back to working on it. ;)
Who are you inspired by at the moment?
Can't think of many names - but I'm inspired right now by anyone who seems to be forging their own path, gets to the musical point whilst leaving space to breathe, and just does something that feels true.
Miguel has said in an interview he is inspired by you. Did that make you feel any type of way?
Yeah Miguel fans actually made us aware of that because all these "Miguel sent me here"s kept popping up all over YouTube - I find it it really cool when R&B, Hip hop, electronic, alternative and pop artists can see there is a synergy there which connects all of our music and makes what we are all doing one, whole thing. There are a crop of artists, in all genres, who are currently making the music of today, maybe even of a generation - and we are all connected in creating that landscape.
What is your opinion of the business side of the music industry? Do you currently have a record deal?
I'm signed to 4AD, one of the best independent record labels in the world. I am constantly amazed at how this worldwide thing can really just run from the root of 3-4 people being really into what I'm making - the fact that I can just sit with Ed, my A&R, and we can listen to recordings I made on my phone and be open and honest - and even excited - about what were just really early ideas. I'm very lucky to have that, and I'm not sure there are many professional recording artists in the world who could say they have that kind of relationship with their label.
What message are you trying to get across with your music?
I'm not trying to get anything across - I need to make music, it's a part of my routine, my life. It IS me. It has been since I was a child. I'm just very privileged that the world is interested in what I am making right now - I'd be making it regardless of what the world thinks anyway - and it's something I try to remind myself of every day.