Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Sof. Together we discussed their relationship with music, their boss, cats, their EPs Dusk and Dawn, and so much more!
1. Mustard is thankful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing?
Thank you for having me! I’m doing pretty well, thanks. Can’t complain.
2. Mustard wonders what your relationship with music was growing up?
I’ve been obsessed with music my entire life. I started singing and making up songs when I was still a toddler and my parents enrolled me in music lessons when I was 3. It is and always has been my one true love.
3. Is there a song or album that had an impact on you? Could you share more?
The Joke by Brandi Carlile. I bawled my eyes out watching her perform it at the Grammy’s in 2019. It was the first time I ever heard that song and it was like a religious experience for me. Her performance was so emotional and it shook me to my core. When I was growing up, I experienced a lot of bullying from kids who told me I’d never make it as an artist. Now, as an adult, I get to do music for a living and the joke truly is on them.
4. What is your songwriting process?
I usually start with a melody— I hear lots of little ideas in my head all the time, so I record them to my voice memos and there are usually a few lyrics that attach themselves to the ideas. Sometimes they’re placeholders, but other times they end up being the final lyrics. Then, I like to hop on my keyboard to figure out the underlying chords and expand the idea further out. I flesh out all the lyrics once I have all of that done. Sometimes I write in the studio to a beat that a producer has made and I do that whole process minus the keyboard. But it’s always melody first. That’s what feels most natural.
5. Who (or what) influences you?
As cheesy as it may sound, I’m influenced by life. I’m fascinated by all aspects of the human experience— love, loss, growth, pain, pleasure, etc. I feel so much and those emotions can be so strong at times. The only way I feel like I’m able to process it all is through songwriting.
6. You are a noted cat enthusiast. Can you recall your first experience with a cat? Do you have a favorite breed? What are your thoughts on dogs?
Actually, yes! When I was like 4 or 5 my mom’s boss had a company party at his house and he had a cat in the kitchen that immediately caught my attention. I remember squealing at how cute she was and I kept telling my mom I wanted to pet her, but she said I should be careful not to get bitten or scratched. No one in my family was a cat person at the time but I was adamant about getting one as a pet. I finally did when I turned 20 and now my whole family claims they’re cat people. Funny how that happens, right? I love ALL cats and it’s difficult to pick a favorite breed, so I’ll give you my top 3: British Shorthairs, Selkirk Rexes, and Maine Coons. And dogs are cool! I’m a big animal lover in general, but I’ve always just connected most with cats.
7. You’re tasked to write a jingle about the day in the life of a cat. What would this jingle sound like?
I’d probably just record my cat snoring, purring, and yelling and then autotune it and put it over a fun pop beat. All he does all day is sleep and yell at everyone to give him more food.
8. What cat toy do you believe would make the best instrument?
I feel like you could do a lot with a cat tree.
9. Your new boss, literally, puts a lot on your shoulders. How do you balance your work and home life?
Hahaha, that’s funny. Thanks for doing an Instagram deep dive! Sometimes it can be really difficult because they overlap a lot, especially since the music I write is so personal. I think it’s really important to keep some things private. I’m really careful about revealing too much about myself online and I make time in my schedule to unwind and be alone to avoid burnout. Being an artist is a full-time job but it’s one I’m truly grateful for. Achieving balance takes practice.
10. When did you first get the idea to cover Britney Spears “criminal?” What was your reaction to the success and acclaim it received?
Actually, it was my dad’s idea! Britney Spears was on repeat during every car ride because I was (and still am) a huge fan. One time when he was driving me to school he heard “Criminal” and was like, “you should slow this down and cover it.” Neither of us could have suspected it would blow up the way it did, especially all these years later. As of right now, my original video has 1.4 million views and it just hit over 2 million streams on Spotify. What’s even crazier is it has been reposted by other creators on YouTube and their videos also have millions of views. I saw one video posted by a fan in Turkey that has 20 million views. It’s absurd. I don’t really know how to feel about it. It’s totally surreal. I’m just super grateful to my Turkish fans and I’m sending them so much love in this difficult time. If you can, please donate to help those in need. Here are some organizations accepting donations: Save the Children, SAMS Foundation, Disaster Philanthropy
11. Additionally, how has social media helped you as an artist?
Social media has been instrumental in building my fanbase! I owe so much of my success to it. I’m slowly growing my following on TikTok and I’m really grateful to live in a time where the power to go viral is directly in my hands. It’s not something I take lightly.
12. What do you include in your fruit water? Are we still in the fruit water season?
I love lemon and cucumber. Fruit water season is year-round, baby!
13. You’ve described your EP Dawn as a “peek inside your brain” and recently released “Dusk.” Would you say listeners are still peeking or has the door been opened more?
I think the door is opened more with every new release. I only write from experience so every song is like a little piece of me. I believe that vulnerability, while sometimes scary, is important for human connection.
14 Both “Dawn” and “Dusk” feel like novels. Is there a chance of these EPs becoming a trilogy? How would you define them?
I’m glad you said that because that was definitely my intention with both EPs! As much as I loved these eras, it’s time for me to move forward into another era. Dawn and Dusk were a good introduction but I have so much more to say and I’m excited for people to hear it.
15. How would you describe your live performance?
It’s a must-see experience if I do say so myself! Performing live gives me an opportunity to connect with the songs in a different way and it always feels so much more intimate and emotional. I play live instruments which add another layer to the music, and I always sing my heart out. I also really like to engage the crowd as much as possible, so you can expect a lot of banter.
16. What is next for Sof?
I’m working on some new music that I hope to have out soon and I’m moving to California this year for some new opportunities. I’m really excited about what the future holds.
17. Where can readers listen to your music?
My music is available in all the usual places, but the best place to go to find everything you could ever want is sofmusic.com.