At just 22, S.O.S is hitting electro-pop hard, taking matters into her own hands as writer-producer-performer. Her quirky sound and retro-chic style have already gathered her fans by the thousands and some high-profile upcoming London gigs. We grab a few minutes with her to chat about the super-competitive music industry and her creative process before the launch of her new single ‘Bittersweet’.
Tell us about you, how long have you been producing music? What did inspire you to start?
Well, to be honest I’ve been writing and singing a lot longer than producing. I guess it all kicked off when I decided to move to London around five years ago. I was born and raised in Malta but always thought that I’d end up moving to the UK to follow my love of music. 2013 was a proper turning point for me as I began the 1st year of my Songwriting degree at The ICMP and was instantly introduced to a world of music that I never even knew existed. Being surrounded by so many talented musicians and new genres really helped me grow as an artist. I think it was probably this exposure that inspired me to begin producing and once I did, it completely changed my sound and my writing! In fact, when I played my demos in the studio and we began selecting the tracks for the EP, I was completely blown away when the executive producer wanted to keep a lot of what I had done! I think that was probably the point when I realised that my production skills weren’t half bad.
The music industry is super competitive these days, was there a moment in your life that you wanted to give up on music? How did you manage to stay focused and achieve what you want?
I think that like most people, when you’ve got a passion for something and you are truly committed to making it work, nothing will get in the way of that! Granted I’ve had many ups and downs along the way, and I’m sure that it won’t just be plain sailing from here on out, but I think that it’s a case of keeping a level head and having really good people around you to turn to when things start to fall apart. There were a few times in the past were I was making music that wasn’t really true to who I wanted to be as an artist and was far from my taste in music. In fact nothing much came off the back of that project at the time and it would have been really easy to give up when it wasn’t working out. Instead it actually made me work even harder and dig a little deeper to start making music that I actually like listening to, taking inspiration from the people around me and writing about topics that genuinely interest me and that aren’t commonly highlighted in pop music.
How would you describe your creative processes? Who writes the lyrics to the songs? Are the music and lyrics written in conjunction, or separately?
I love questions like these, I don’t get them often, but when I do it’s great because I get the chance to let people in on my creative process and I can actually talk about my favourite part of creating a song and where it all starts. So for me it usually depends whether the song is a co-write or not, as I’ve found that the creative process is always slightly different if you’re working with other writers but the outcome can be magic. With ‘Bittersweet’ I wrote both the lyrics and the melody myself but there are other tracks on my EP which were co-written with some very talented writers. ‘Bittersweet’ first started with the lyric concept of a man having to pay for what he thinks is love, and I then began to expand on that idea. I knew I wanted it to be sparse and not say TOO much, as I quite like the listener to give the lyrics their own interpretation. Once I had a vision of where the lyric was heading, I got my mac out and started creating the music. For ‘Bittersweet’ it started with the drums, which were originally sampled from a Vaults track that I absolutely love! They set the overall all tone for the song but eventually evolved into their own sound. Then came the bass line and once that was in place I was able to sing the lyrics on top and create the top line melody. With other songs it might be a different process but I definitely think that it depends on where the initial idea comes from. Whatever feels right is the way I’ll take it forward, sometimes starting on guitar, sometimes from a vocal hook, whatever feels natural!
Where the inspiration comes from?
I find inspiration for my music all around. Sometimes it’s the people closest to me and sometimes it’s in a new song on the radio. Sometimes it slaps me in the face and sometimes I search for it. More often then not, my songs are about topics that I’m interested in, possibly slightly controversial at times but I like to base my stuff on subjects that are a bit different from the mainstream norms (such as love and money). There’s always a detailed story behind each of my songs and each story comes from a weird and wonderful place. Whether it’s an article on the paper or maybe a personal experience, I try to constantly draw inspiration from lots of different things and people. I also love to people-watch (not in a creepy way but just on the tube or in a bar), a lot of writers do! It’s another really interesting way of creating new stories and finding new inspiration!
What’s your favourite track from the upcoming album and what other bands/artists are you listening to right now?
That’s a really difficult one to answer! It’s like trying to pick a favourite from your own children. I love them all for very different reasons and I think if you asked me this on five different days, you’d probably get five different answers. I think today’s answer will be ‘Bloodline’, it’s one of the more positive tracks and is really fun to sing live. In fact that track was inspired by NAO, she is definitely an artist that I’m loving right now!! I’m also loving a bit of Alessia Cara, Zara Larsson, Christine and The Queens, Halsey, The Weeknd and Mø.
What’s next for you?
What’s next for me? Good question! I think the simplest answer is; wherever my music will take me! There are some interesting remix opportunities for ‘Bittersweet’ on the horizon, so I will definitely be looking into those. I also have some very exciting gigs coming up which are all listed on my website and I hope to release another single before releasing the full EP which should both be out early 2017! On top of all that, I plan to keep writing and creating new music and hopefully continue working with some more amazing musicians and writers along the way. Watch this space! ;)
Pre-order S.O.S‘ new single “Bittersweet” here.