- Words Louis Rabinowitz
Singer-songwriter Philine Sonny discusses her new EP, 'Lose Yourself', her crush on Sam Fender and musical journey.
Philine Sonny is growing up through her music. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter puts the difficulties of finding oneself in the confusing adult world front and centre in her tunes, leading to a confessional and introspective brand of music that achieves universality through its very individual perspective.
She has acquired notice for the journal-like honesty of songs like “Lose Yourself” and “Same Light”, which refused to shy away from deeply-felt insecurities and anxieties. Sonny’s music is far from solipsistic, however, with her recent tune “Oh Brother” paying tribute to her brother and the way that the siblings have supported another through childhood – a recognition of those who have helped her get to this place of artistic fulfillment.
Now, Sonny seeks to complete her impressive introduction into the musical world with the release of her debut EP, ‘Lose Yourself’, taking Sonny’s inner strife and using it as a springboard for a wider questioning of how isolation is created within society, such as her music video’s tackling of the nationwide homelessness problem.
It’s a bold debut for an uncompromising up-and-coming artist, so we sat down with Sonny to find out all about the release, where her inspirations came from and where she may be going next.
Congratulations on your new EP, ‘Lose Yourself’. Can you dive into some of the themes on the record?
Thank you! I think what leads through all of the songs is that they‘re written from a kind of distorted perspective of someone who is suffering from mental illness. So even when I write about something like growing up, as in “Oh Brother“, or being in love, as in “Same Light”, I feel like these songs also tell a story about depression because it determines the way you look at these things, you know?
What was the creative process like for the EP?
It was intense for sure. I write and produce all my music myself so there were many different stages that I went through with these songs. Writing the songs actually happened very randomly, it was not like I sat down trying to write an EP. Part of “Postcards for Mom and her Friends” I came up with on a ski trip when I didn‘t have an instrument with me, so I just mumbled it into my phone. Nevertheless, it always took months to finish the lyrics because I would go over them a hundred times until they‘re honest and sounding pretty at the same time.
Producing the songs was quite a challenge for me because I had never done it before. I recorded almost everything at home and most of the time I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I was just trying things and deleting things and trying it again and eventually I found out what I had to do to make my voice or guitar sound like I imagined it. That was a long process and it made me lose my mind sometimes but when you have that breakthrough it‘s always so rewarding.
Do you have a favourite track from the EP? Or one that particularly resonates with you right now?
Right now it‘s definitely “People“. Productionwise it really turned out to be very close to what I had in mind and I think we will have the most fun playing it live this summer. And of course the lyrics are very important to me. Homelessness or not being welcomed at home or having a sense of home for a place or city that is messed up are topics I‘ve always felt very connected to for some reason.
Can you dive into your musical journey and tell us how you started out and how you got where you are today?
When I was 11 i started taking drum lessons and played in a school band for a few years. Later I sang in the school choir and taught myself to play guitar. I wrote the first song of the EP in 2015, it‘s the song called “2015“. I was 14 then and didn‘t think about releasing music or any of that stuff. That went on for a few years, I wrote lots and lots of songs, most of them were bad, some of them weren‘t. In early 2020 I met my now-manager who asked me to send him demos which I didn‘t really have at this point. So I started recording some of the stuff I wrote, we met again, I showed it to him and he‘s a producer himself so I thought if this works out he will be producing my songs or whatever. At some point in our conversation he said something about the possibility of me producing my music myself someday and that was the first time I ever thought about that. So for about half a year I kept working on these “demos” which were actually already the final production, I showed it to the team and we started preparing for the release of “Lose Yourself” while I finished the rest of the songs on the EP.
Who are some of your key inspirations and influences?
15 year old me listened a lot to Ben Howard, Bon Iver, Ed Sheeran or just any other songwriter with an acoustic guitar. Not too long ago I discovered my love for Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Sam Fender, Bleachers, The War on Drugs and that kind of stuff and I think a lot of that went into my production. When it comes to songwriting, Springsteen definitely is my biggest inspiration. I love how he can tell so many stories at once because he has perfect timing for when to use which words in what context.
In a parallel universe, what would you be if not a musician?
I‘d probably be some kind of scientist exploring different types of rocks in Norway or a craftswoman building tables and doing pottery. Anything where I can use my hands to do stuff.
What’s something about yourself that you’d like more people to know?
Oh wow, that‘s a good question. I had to think about that for a moment but I think I‘d like more people to know that I am also a producer because I feel like that part of what I do is sometimes overlooked.
Which superpower would you most like to have and why?
I‘d love to be able to fly. Imagine how much more fun everything would be if you could just fly.
What are you manifesting for 2022?
I just hope I’ll finally get to play live shows and festivals this year. Partly because maybe one day I‘ll play the same festival as Sam Fender and when that day comes, I‘ll ask him out. I‘m not really sure what this manifesting thing is though, a friend who‘s into that stuff said that‘s something i should manifest, so here we go.