French import SOKO (real name: Stephanie Sokolinski) is worth taking the time to listen to, especially if you are into minimalistic, alt-goth (I may have coined a new genre, maybe not) with a subtle, charming appeal that will worm its way into your brain while you ponder its deceptive depth. SOKO bathes in the light and dances in the dark, sometimes all within the same song. The 28 year old multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, and actress just released a new album, My Dreams Dictate My Reality, released by Because Music, which sounds a bit like her beloved Cure, as well as a bit of Cocteau Twins interspersed with LA Goth legends, The Super Heroines. SOKO also recently completed a string of US shows. Perhaps you were lucky enough to get to see her. If not, I caught up with her last week or this is what she had to say.
Tom Reardon for antiMusic: Tell me about your style.
SOKO: Vintage Queen, Acid Wash, White Goth, Beach Goth, School Girl, Punk, Comfy. Creepers, lucky charms jewels, Vintage over-sewed leather jacket, mom jeans.
antiMusic: What does white goth mean?
SOKO: It means I'm very emotional and extremely sensitive but I'm also light ( not full on fake goth outfits from the goth store at the supermarket ! ) but more like goth minded.. I enjoy ups and downs and real emotions and dark times over some sort of made up happiness...
antiMusic: What is your favorite aspect of your creative process?
SOKO: Feeling in complete trance and losing myself and just feel emotions and songs pouring out of me.
Or coming up with new concepts for music videos, and directing them in no time, and see it come to life being so quick and quirky and exactly like I imagined.. Making things, actually, finishing them is the best feeling in the world. You get such a kick out of it. Dreaming one idea and then witnessing it become real. The best.
antiMusic: I read in your bio about you quitting school at an early age. How has this shaped your life?
SOKO: It's made completely hungry for life, independent, super strong willing, assertive, never taking no for an answer, and just follow my dreams to the fullest, disregarding how people think you " should " live your life and just making my own life happen on my terms. It's allowed me to be extremely creative and make things happen for myself without counting on the system to make my life happen for me.
antiMusic: How did your recent west coast concerts go?
SOKO: SOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD... well, except SF, I have a crazy melt down right before the show, my tour manager had done me wrong one too many times and done so many unforgiveable mistakes that I had to get rid of him and that caused me the biggest panic attack before the show. Hitting myself in the face (still have scars from my rings) and was so weak I wanted to cancel the whole thing and disappear…But then I did go on stage, crying like a baby... and played the show and actually ended up having the best time ever… and it was very healing to play...the show was super emotional. Burgerama was the funnest though... we played the Constellation room, it was so packed, people couldn't even get in…so hot and sweaty and we had a stage invasion of topless ladies sharing their magnificent boobs with the crowd (me included ) … and it was really punk and crazy and I bruised my whole body from rocking out way too hard..
antiMusic: Why do you avoid using set lists?
SOKO: I used to... I don't know...I just like being spontaneous... but now, the band I have is too scared of it. so I put "some sort of set list" on stage and go off of it all the time and just end up calling up the songs after 4 songs and just going with whatever the vibe of the room is.. It just feels more fun...
antiMusic: Tell me about your latest album, My Dreams Dictate My Reality…who did you record with and where?
SOKO: I started writing and recording the album in Paris by myself... and when everything was written and i was hitting a wall by myself, i met Ross Robinson who helped me finish it in his studio in Venice Beach, CA... And it was the best experience ever... he really let me do exactly the record that I wanted and pushed me into performing with as much emotions as can be... he spent so much time digging into my brain and asking the right questions about why this record is vital for me, and it made it even more clear why I HAD to make this record.
antiMusic: Do you have a favorite instrument to play? If so, which one?
SOKO: Yes... Well, I love playing bass... i wrote most of the new album on bass... it made me write in a whole new way... a lot more upbeat and deeper sounds.. Also, I love baritone guitars..., I'm actually obsessed with them... put a big huge chorus and reverb on it and I'm in heaven right there.
antiMusic: What is your guilty pleasure music?
SOKO: People keep asking this question like I'm gonna say "oh I love Lady Gaga" and they're gonna be like " oh, how shocking!"..
I actually don't listen to any pop things or anything that I'd feel guilty about... I'm a music nerd, I have really specific taste in music and I stick to what I love, which is probably very predictable if you listen to my music... haha!
antiMusic: Who have you seen play or shared a stage with recently that inspired you?
SOKO: I jumped on stage 2 weeks ago for Ariel Pink's show in Paris and sang on " Negative Ed", it's one of the songs I did vocals for on his new record PomPom.. And that's always fun... we had to fake fight in French on stage... It was hilarious.
antiMusic: When did you know you wanted to start making music?
after I went to so many shows and felt the urge to be on stage with the people I admired, play there with them, have fun with them, sing as beautifully and emotionally as they did, instead of being front row wishing I was them..
antiMusic: Who would you like to play with but haven't had a chance to yet?
SOKO: The Cure... I would just DIE.
antiMusic: What is it about acting that draws you in?
SOKO: Getting a chance to get out of my head... get away from my own life... forget about my own little problems for a second and get to be someone else... play dressed up, honor someone's story.. Make people dream...
Learn more about SOKO here.