When you’re told that an artist has found fans in the likes of Billie Eilish, Celeste, and Sabrina Carpenter to name but a few, there’s obviously something going on. For 24-year-old Sophie May, however, it’s just part of her rapid ascent through the UK singer-songwriter ranks. “It’s always surreal,” Sophie laughs. “When I first realised that my music was connecting with people, I thought, ‘Oh, thank God people actually like it!’. It feels encouraging to know that I must be doing something right.”
Having first picked up a guitar aged 19, Sophie credits going into lockdown for giving her the freedom to write as many songs as she could without feeling guilty for not being more productive. “Deciding that music is what I want to do full time is something that happened gradually and naturally,” she explains. “I didn’t decide when I was 10 that I wanted to be a musician. Covid changed my life. I wrote as many songs as possible and social media encouraged that; I’m lucky to have come into this industry in such a modern way.”
The first batch of these songs came via last year’s debut EP ‘You Do Not Have To Be Good’ - a release that showcased Sophie’s refreshingly honest lyricism through a cynical collection of love songs that were both defiant and apologetic. Last month, meanwhile, follow-up ‘Worst Thoughts In The World’ arrived as a spotlight for Sophie’s vulnerability, featuring co-writing credits from the likes of Matt Maltese, who she hails as “one of the most talented songwriters” in the game.
“I didn’t decide when I was 10 that I wanted to be a musician. Covid changed my life.”
“His efficiency when it comes to songwriting is something I look up to,” she notes. “We write really well together and have the same sense of humour, and that’s really important to me.” The EP’s title track acts as the perfect example of this writing relationship, as nightmarish lyrics focus on obsessive thoughts and the places your mind travels when you begin to spiral (“Awful dreams and I can't make 'em stop / My future husband caught me with his boss”). The ‘00s pop-tinted ‘Killing You In My Sleep’ was written with Spector’s Fred Macpherson, while the soft-spoken lyrics of ‘Doppelgänger’ tell the painful story of realising a lover’s increasingly obvious dating patterns (“We look so alike / Sisters in another life / We look so related / You’re just too ashamed to say it”).
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the intimacy that comes with such diary-like lyrics, Sophie has already begun to build a tight-knit fan community. Take a glance at her TikTok comments and you’re met with fans asking for relationship tips and sharing their own personal stories - it’s just another thing that Sophie May is taking in her stride. “I find it really heartwarming when people come to me for advice,” she smiles. “It’s cool to know that something that had once happened, that felt personal to me, is a universal experience that lots of people can relate to. If people can find some comfort in what I do, then that’s a great thing.”
'Worst Thoughts In The World' is out now via Believe UK.
As featured in the September 2023 issue of DIY, out now.