Sans Soucis on fusing languages and genres on their debut album, 'Circumnavigating Georgia'

Interview Sans Soucis: “the topics I sing about can spark conversations”

Born in Italy and based in London, Giulia Grispino is fusing languages and genres for a debut album that’s as political as it is party-ready.

Italian-born Giulia Grispino’s initial foray into music was through the classical world, before the likes of Solange, Rihanna and Little Dragon opened up their horizons and the project Sans Soucis was born. Named after a childhood nickname meaning “without worries”, gifted by a grandparent on account of Giulia’s carefree nature, since then the moniker has become something of a north star for the musician.

“I do feel very aligned to Sans Soucis as a person right now; [it’s somewhere] where I can be my adult self but still retain that joy I had back then,” they say. “My grandparents moved from the south of Italy to the north in the ‘50s, and were the epitome of integration and kindness despite facing racism. They taught me everything I know about adapting.”

Having moved to London at the age of 19 to study, music soon became another tool that Giulia used to make sense of and acclimatise to their new environment. Their music is bilingual, singing in both English and Italian, and from the beginnings of the project there was a sense of fusing cultures and finding common ground. “I didn’t think London would be my city. At the beginning, I felt quite depressed because of the culture shock,” they say. “That was when I bought a guitar and spent six months studying diligently; writing songs out of one string. It was the only way I could express myself that wasn’t lost in translation.”

Language runs deeper for Sans Soucis than merely a connection to place. “When I make music, I just want to be loyal to my thoughts and feelings,” they acknowledge. “There are certain things that I cannot express in English and other things I can’t express in Italian. It doesn’t matter what country you’re from, language is without borders. If a word makes sense to you because it’s attached to a memory, why not use it instead of trying to translate all the time? I don’t sing in English just to reach as many people as I can. It’s also about freedom.”

“It doesn’t matter what country you’re from, language is without borders.”

Debut album ‘Circumnavigating Georgia’ is set to arrive later this year, and sees Giulia pushing their otherworldly brand of soulful electronic earworms into new directions that touch on everything from R&B bops, to reggae-adjacent rhythms to breezy, blissed-out pop. Throughout, it’s a record designed for dancing. “My biggest joy is for people to move however they want at my shows,” they say. But there’s also a political message ingrained in Sans Soucis, bolstered by their own experience as a Black non-binary musician growing up in Italy.

“The topics I sing about can spark conversations. In this moment in history, we need to build community,” they say. “I hope my supporters see my willingness to develop a language that is personal, anti-patriarchal and against white supremacy. I read a lot of texts by Stuart Hall and bell hooks about the need to create a counter-imagery that doesn’t necessarily belong to the world of words and systems. It comes from art, which is crucial.”

Texan writer, poet and activist Alok Vaid-Menon also features on ‘Circumnavigating Georgia’, and even the record’s name is a nod to the exploratory and questioning nature of the ideas within it. “The word ‘circumnavigating’ is a colonial term,” they explain. “I like the idea of travelling to a place but also the sexual nature or connotation of exploring someone’s waters. I was inspired by Audre Lorde’s writing on eroticism, and how it teaches you to be passionate about life. It’s a metaphysical journey that feels ephemeral. My music is melodic and fluid, but I want the voice and message to be heard.”

Bringing together languages, cultures and genres in a way that feels both deliberate and effortless, Sans Soucis’ voice deserves all the ears it can get.

‘Circumnavigating Georgia’ is out later this year via Decca.

Tags: Sans Soucis, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the May 2024 issue of DIY, out now.

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