Question: What do June Miller, Noisia, Holland’s most popular TV talk show, an empty mansion, a former rehab facility and psychology have in common?
Answer: Sofie Letitre
Arguably one of the most interesting new vocalist artists to have emerged in our sonic sphere since Riya or Koven’s Katie Boyle, Sofie is the real deal.
Stylistically she sits somewhere between Lamb’s Lou Rhodes and Massive Attack-era Tracey Thorn. Experimentally she’s more aligned with Bjork or Laurel Halo. Raw, yearning, delicate but disarming and backed by arresting, future-textured beats, her new Uncanny Valley EP on Noisia’s Division imprint is a stark, dark work of art…
With her focus fully fixed on both her vocals and production, she’s got a lot to contribute to electronic music and could possibly even contribute to the changing face of Dutch pop music. Recently she appeared on Holland’s most famous talk show De Wereld Draait Door… Her EP launch party sold out a day later.
“It’s a really popular TV talk show, you get to play for one minute and tell the world about yourself for another minute. It was a very intense few minutes of my life,” she laughs from her home in Utrecht. “But it paid off; the EP launch sold out straight after. Are we in the Dutch charts? Not the regular pop charts. Music played on Dutch radio is a little conservative over here, but the crossover between pop and electronica is very new over here so the radio stations are getting used to it. I’m hoping we get played more in the future.”
With music like this, we hope so too…
Wanna know more? Read on…
The D&B connection
Most of us will have heard Sofie first on June Miller’s 2013 Ram release Change…
It was her first official D&B outing, but her connection with the genre goes back much further.
“My Noisia connection goes back to me studying in Groningen. I worked in a bar to pay for my life and behind the bar they had their former studio. They would sit at the bar with me and we became friends. Back then I was a more conventional singer songwriter, so my friendship with them wasn’t about music because our worlds were so far apart – we made connections on other things beside music.
“Of course they played me music and told me about certain acts I would like but my main electronic influences came from James Blake and FK Twigs and old Bjork and Radiohead. My music became more and more electronic. Thijs and I became closer musically so we worked together on the EP and the label thought it was right to release it.”
Before Uncanny Valley came her debut album Back Where We Come From
Sofie is no noob; her repertoire is already one album deep. While it’s not as electronic as Uncanny Valley, it’s still a captivating listen that expresses her influences and abilities throughout. It should be of special interest to readers with a penchant for classic Joni Mitchell or early 90s grunge and there are clear moments where her electronic influences are itching to break through (notably with her trembling cover of deadmau5’s I Remember) Written with long-time collaborator Ferdy van der Single, it was created in a unique environment…
“Ferdy and I recorded the album together in a big mansion! If a building isn’t occupied in Holland, you can live there for €150 a month. If you walked around the whole villa it would be a 30 min walk! The space inspired us so much while we recorded the album there together. Environment was also important during the creative process of Uncanny Valley. We recorded it in a former rehab facility in a forest near Utrecht.”
She’s not the type of singer who stops at the mic… She’s neck deep in DAW business now, too
Some vocalists simply deal in dulcets and that’s that. Others get mucky on the technical side. Sofie is definitely in the latter camp…
“It’s like I have a new palette of paint! It’s like a new tool. I’m learning so much about production now. I’ve enjoyed stripping the music down and leaving more space for vocals, lyrics and stories. I love the dark, deep bass sounds. Thijs helped us out with them!
“For me it’s about the contrast between the human and acoustic instruments and the electronic sounds. The stories I write about are about imperfection vs perfection and the idea that a lot of people want to be as perfect as they can to be accepted and loved but the more perfect you get, the less human you are. Imperfections are implicit in being human. Like if you’re putting as Botox in your face to become beautiful in your own eyes… To everyone else is has the reverse effect.”
She’s going places… But she’s not giving up her day job any time soon
Albums, sold out shows, massive EPs on Noisia’s label… When an artist reaches Sofie’s level they start to think about quitting their day job. Not Sofie.
“I still work as a psychologist for a few days a week. I love being a psychologist. I’m really interested in why people do things and why I do things. I’m fascinated by our defensive mechanisms and what is authentic and when someone is hiding behind a defence mechanism. It all comes down to the same thing; underlying feelings and fears and getting in touch with true emotion and authentic emotion.
“Does it give me the edge or hold me back? Both in different ways. Performing live it can hinder me because I get so nervous and I’m aware of that fear. But the more I get conscious of doing things and what I’m afraid of, the fear disappears. So when I play live, it holds me back. But when I’m writing I benefit; I’m always scared to write but I’m too stubborn in myself to be withheld.”