S O H N: ‘I’m An Old-School Songwriter Who Happens To Love Electronic Instruments’

Neu spoke to the producer about his musical background and his relationship with London.

Photo Credit: Christian Pitschl

Within the past what, a month and a half, S O H N has gone from small blog sensation to an Actual Musician Going Places. Some bedroom producers spring up out of nowhere and fade just as quickly. On basis of this interview with DIY, the first the London via. Vienna artist has given, he’s been waiting in the wings perfecting his craft for some time. Far from being some kind of spontaneous gesture, his debut track ‘Oscillate’ is one of many, many efforts yet to be unveiled.

At the time of writing S O H N’s ‘The Wheel’ (stream below) has stepped over the 100,000 play mark, so we’re talking about far more than a flash-in-the-pan success. Neu spoke to the producer about his musical background, his relationship with London and the experience of seeing your artist name mentioned everywhere, in the space of just under a week.

You describe yourself as being from London via. Vienna. Do you go to and fro between the two cities? Is it a case of Vienna having a very big place in your heart?
Yeah it does - Vienna is a great great city and I’ve been living there the last couple of years, though I’m back and forth quite a lot. I actually like London more the longer I’m away, which is nice because when I left I hated it.

Which city of the two do you feel has a greater impact on the feel of your music, if either of them do?
It varies - ‘Oscillate’ and ‘Warnings’ were heavily London influenced - dark nights, loads of people, a feeling of solitude within large groups of people. The Wheel though is a fresh air, head-clearing, talking to yourself kind of song. That definitely came from the other side of solitude, the positive side, and was massively influenced by Vienna.

There’s a certain darkness lurking within all of your songs to date - where do you imagine that stems from?
To me darkness a lot of the time goes hand in hand with depth, both in music and in people. If people don’t feel or show any signs of darkness, I find it hard to trust them - darkness is 50% of life, right? For me the darker side of life is the most interesting part, it’s where we find out who we are.

However if you compare a song like ‘O S C I L L A T E’ to ‘T H E W H E E L’, the latter is much more upbeat and positive sounding. Even at this early stage, do you feel like your songwriting is developing quickly?
I dunno actually - I’ve actually been writing songs for a very long time, almost my entire life. I definitely developed a style over that time, but I’m consciously making some decisions with this material - I’m holding back on lyrics a bit more (including fewer), and forcing myself to allow more room in the songs. So far I’m really pleased with the results.

Did you always decide from the outset that you wanted to include your own vocals in the songs? Plenty of electronic artists stick to instrumentals or draft in guest vocalist - did you ever consider the other two options?
That actually wasn’t a conscious decision - the electronics in my music are instruments, as is my voice. I’m an old-school songwriter who happens to love the sound of electronic instruments I guess, but I’d like to delve more into instrumentals and remixes too.

It’s a standard question but I’d be interested to know what kind of artists influence the music you make?
Any that I believe are truly into what they’re doing. Truth is everything in music making, that’s why sometimes even huge pop tracks can be awesome - when the people making it believe they’re making something incredibly good I think you can hear that. In terms of influences, I’m into anything that manages to squeeze clever production into the classic song format, and also into many acts that have the darkness, as I said. I don’t like The Darkness, though.

What brought you to a newly formed label such as Aesop? Did you find yourself having to turn down a lot of offers from elsewhere?
It’s all about the people with the plans in today’s music market, and Aesop had a great plan leading up to this single - plus they showed a lot of faith very early in the project by making this their very first release. They were talking to us way before all these other labels started flying in and showing interest, so it seemed right to go with them.

What’s it been like seeing your name mentioned on virtually every music site around?
It’s cool that what I’m doing right now is liked and relevant - but I’m trying not to get too carried away just yet. It is nice though, I’ll admit.

What lies ahead? Have you any grand plans for 2013 or are you going to continue making music at your own pace before seeing what happens?
I’m writing more material, I have some in the locker, I guess I’ll start taking a look at these remix offers that have started coming in, and I’m working on a live show for S O H N. I guess I’m about to get very busy…

S O H N’s ‘The Wheel’ EP is released 5th November through Aesop Label.