There’s something to be said for truly creative souls. You know, the ones who never stop thinking, never stop creating, and who’s passion can never actually be extinguished. In this business, there are artists in it for the money and fame, and others who would do what they do, no matter what – because it’s not what they do, but who they are. France-born and LA-based singer/songwriter SoShy is one such creative. Over the course of a phone interview I recently conducted with her, I could feel the passion in her voice.
If you’re not familiar with her work, please know that she’s by no means a new jack in this industry. She initially signed a deal with Sony music around a decade ago, which mainly developed her songwriting skills – and helped to break her in as a professional artist. After moving to LA (from NYC), she signed a deal with Universal, and more specifically, with Timbaland. Her deal was meant to be not only for her solo work but also for her to work with Timbo and Universal to craft material for other artists. She officially introduced to the world on the track Morning After Dark, which appeared on Tim’s Shock Value 2 album.
She’s since dropped her solo project, Crack The Code on a Montreal – Canada – based label, and made waves with the singles City Of Angels, and Whateva Man featuring Novel. In the midst of continuing to work with other artists on the writing side, and feverishly recording material for her upcoming album dropping in the New Year, she took some time out to talk with us here at AAHIPHOP. We chatted about everything from unreleased material with Mark Ronson, working with AZ, and more. Check out the interview below.
Do you find it difficult to balance working with other artists, while still working on your music?
No, I don’t actually. Because one feeds the other. It took a while for me to find the dynamic in my writing. It’s about making sure that I don’t confuse both but, rather, keep them connected somehow so that whatever I can’t do for myself – because I need to keep my sound together – I can give to others.
Do you find it kind of liberating in a sense, doing it for other people? Like, you can go places you wouldn’t necessarily go with your name or brand attached to it…
That’s true. I think that it allows me to express myself in a way I couldn’t do with my own thing. It’s selfishly generous because in a way it feeds me – I kind of need to be needed. As an artist, if I’m true to myself, I need people to need me. I need to feel useful as an artist, as a vessel. At the same time, I just need to share things with others because I’m someone that’s going to die one day, and just want to make sure I can water certain seeds. Some of those seeds will serve certain artists, their journeys, and their situations. It’s very gratifying to do that, and yes, it’s therapeutic and liberating in a way.
Have you ever had a weird experience where you were working on something for someone else, and became overly attached to it?
It’s incredibly funny that you’re asking me this question because this just happened. This is so weird right now; this is mystical. So, yes, I was working on an artist. I’m not going to say her name. I didn’t end up working for her because of a geographic reason. I was not able to make it to Portugal (she’s a local artist out there). I was asked to write a couple songs and see where it goes. There was one song that I wrote, and I was really in the middle of my own thing. So that was recent, let’s say a couple of months ago. This song that I wrote, honestly, I realized instantly that it was just too personal. Again, I’m not going to say too good; you know what I mean? Because yeah, I write for others what I would write for myself. It had the same energy and the same soul. But I was speaking from such a personal and very subjective standpoint that I was like, this thing is too much of my baby for me to let it go – and the artist agreed. It will probably end up on my new album.
When you write for other people, do you often write from a personal place or do you just get to know them a bit and write something tailored for them?
The thing is, I didn’t get the chance this time to get to know the artist. It was a very cold order if you see what I mean. There was no human connection or interaction between the artist and me, because I think if that had happened, I would’ve probably really nailed it for the artist. I would’ve put myself in her shoes, and it didn’t happen like that. So I think that’s why I had more distance. Usually, I do need to interact with an artist.
How did you connect with AZ?
I connected with AZ through Baby Paul (Paul Hendrix ). He’s a producer who was involved in classic records by Nas, Smiff-and-Wessun, AZ and more. He was also an original member of the Beatminerz. So, I connected with them not because of AZ, but because of wanting to work together over Instagram. He hit me up. I didn’t know him personally – he just said, we should just work together. It wasn’t really for my project, just in general. We did some tracks, and one of them was Back To Myself. I didn’t know where it was going to go. I had no idea. And so, he said, “I want it to sound kind of like this song.” He gave me a reference, whatever. I said, “say no more.” I took a couple days. I wrote the hook. The whole thing was really about coming back. It’s a redemption song but in a street way. When AZ heard it, he jumped on it.
That’s beautiful. This is probably really hard but who have been your favorite artists that you’ve worked with?
That I’ve worked with? Here’s a few:
Mark Ronson was one of the people that I looked up to for a very long time. He wasn’t as big at the time. We’re talking 2003. We did a few songs that we never released. They were amazing songs, and I think that at the time… but at that time, it wasn’t where we wanted to go. I know Mark felt where I was going to go as an artist. There was just a clash between the label and what we wanted to do in the lab with Mark. However, it was an amazing experience. We met in London a year after and we still keep in touch. We talked about making a record together. I wanted to have him for my album.
John Legend was a great experience. I wrote a song back when I was at Sony called Without You. It was supposed to be just for me. I was at epic and John was at Columbia at the time – he still is. He heard that, and he wanted to jump on the song. So we met in London, and we recorded – it was very flattering. I mean, it was an honor for me to have him. We’ve been very good friends since then. Estelle, too. Back in London I had the opportunity to work on her project.
I mean obviously Timbaland. You know, I can’t forget about him because he is a big influence. I grew up on his records. I grew up on Aaliyah, I grew up on Magoo and him, and Missy – and for me to be a part of that even for a couple years is a blessing for me. I aspire to be a producer too at some point; I’m working on it. Being able to be in the studio and watching him at work was humbling to me.
I love that you said Magoo, because no one ever says Magoo. He is the dopest; I don’t care what they…
I don’t care what they say, dude. First of all, I will always stand for the underdog, number one, because I always feel like I’m one, too. But number two, I think he’s a dope rapper. He’s been very, very misunderstood. I think he’s dope. I don’t care what people say, he’s corny, he’s weird. I think he’s amazing. Whatever they did together, it worked.
Every time. Everything they did was on point.
Exactly, so underrated. I never leave him out. I don’t know who else, I mean there’s so many – just working with AZ. AZ is a legend; you know what I’m saying? AZ is not lazy. He’s a hardworking guy. He’s one of those underrated artists. I’m telling you, his comeback, his book he just released, and the Doe Or Die anniversary album… He’s back in a major way. It’s dope to have worked with him.
I also have to talk about Novel. Novel is a producer; he produced for Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis, and more. We’re talking big songs. He’s an amazing, rapper, singer. He produced a couple records of mine, including the song Whateva Man. He’s one of the people that mentored me and helped me understand music in different ways. I’m very blessed to know him. It’s humbling to be recognized and acknowledged. I probably forgot people because … I’ve had a chance to work with a lot of amazing artists, so yeah.
What do you want people to take away from your music? What do you want people that don’t know about you to know about you?
I don’t know if there’s anything I want them to know about me except for the fact that I’m truly genuine with what I do. Every time I’m going to release a song, it’s going to be extremely real to me and also true to the reality and the world I live in. I wouldn’t call myself a conscious artist, but I’m a conscious person. Meaning, when I write something, it has to be conscious. We cannot just talk about flowers and rainbows. At the same time, I completely don’t commend all the gangster rap and any gangster shit that’s going on. Whether it’s in hip-hop, rock or anything. I just want to heal people. I want them to feel better about themselves. I want to empower them. I’m trying to be a vessel here. I don’t want people to watch me shine. I’m trying to bring some light and bring some truth, and honestly, that’s the only thing that I want people to say about me.