Hip-hop artist Sophiegrophy likes to follow her own rules. In her music, she does just that. Hailing from Nigeria, she grew up in New Zealand and is currently based in Australia, so she has definitely followed her own unique path. Her versatility is reflected in her new EP, BOLD, which premiered this May. Fans of Bazzi, Glass Animals, and Cardi B will vibe with her EP (I said she was versatile!), which makes the perfect carefree soundtrack for hanging by the pool or cruising around town.
On Sophiegrophy’s six-song EP, each song represents a different genre and music style. Her first single, “Shake,” is all about “loosening, turning up, because sometimes life can be so serious that we forget to have fun. Even if it’s by yourself, even if it’s with your friends, as long as you’re turning up that’s all that matters.” Now that’s a mantra we can all get behind, am I right? “Shake” has already been featured on radio personality Ebro’s show on Beats, and Sophiegrophy can also be found on the future-forward tracks “My Own Thang” by Walker and Royce and “Bounce Back” by J. Worra & Codes, as well as Spotify’s “Starting Point” and “A1 Live” playlists.
On her EP, Sophiegrophy showcases her dedication to doing her own thing as she mixes hip-hop and R&B with a splash of electronic beats. She opened up to Betches about how she stays confident and ~bold~, telling us “Our decisions must be executed with confidence and we must always have faith in ourselves while not giving energy to the naysayers” (full interview below).
We chatted with Sophiegrophy about her diverse background, musical influences, mental health, and more below.
How does your Nigerian background & growing up in New Zealand influence your music and style?
My Nigerian background influences my music by allowing me into a world full of culture where music is the driving force for jubilance, dance, and unity. This background has really helped me with exploring afro beats, which are a part of my “BOLD” EP, and were really something that came naturally when I was writing. As a Nigerian we have a saying that “Naija no dey carry last,” which means we are always in the frontline. My style represents my background because I dress to be comfortable even if it means doing the most, and as a Nigerian we are known to go far and beyond when it comes to style because we love to look good and we love to stand out. I spent my late childhood and teenage years in New Zealand, where I discovered my identity and my sense of belonging that have made me the person I am today. All that I have discovered and learnt during my developmental stages has really helped me with writing and telling my story. New Zealand was where I realised I was different due to many bullying experiences I encountered, and it didn’t change me for the worse nor did it make me change who I was.
Who are some of your musical influences?
My musical influences are Lucky Dube & Jon Bellion.
Who are some of your inspirations right now? (Musical and otherwise)
My biggest inspiration is my mother. She inspires me to strive to be my best and to keep persevering. Everything she has encountered in her life gives me motivation to keep working hard, because she is where she is today because she never gave up and never stopped trying. No matter how hard it got, she made sure she finished what she started and she never left things halfway. This has motivated me a lot, because life is a roller coaster and there are going to be a lot of good and bad days. We tend to only appreciate the good days and give up when the bad days knock on our door. Every negative thing is a catalyst for something positive.
What’s keeping you upbeat right now?
Music and writing. I’ve been spending a lot of late nights with music, exploring what my next song or EP would be. Music brings a lot of happiness out of me and that’s really what’s kept me upbeat.
What’s your go-to pump-up song/album?
My go-to pump-up song and album would be “PMW” by A$AP Rocky/SchoolboyQ and Fan of a Fan by Chris Brown & Tyga. These choices are songs that bring back a lot of wonderful nostalgia of a night out with friends.
Your EP is called “BOLD.” Can you tell us why?
My EP BOLD signifies standing out and being as vibrant as possible. Each song on my EP is distinctively different because they each represent different genres and styles. I wanted to showcase my diversity when it comes to music—I don’t discriminate and I don’t like to place myself in a box. I love expanding myself as an artist and pushing the boundaries. I don’t want to do something because that’s what the majority are doing, I want to do things because I want to do it, even if it means being the odd one out.
What’s your advice to other women to be bold?
My advice to other women to be bold is to remember that as women we are dimes. Our aura is naturally bold, but to really exude it we must walk with confidence in ourselves. Our decisions must be executed with confidence and we must always have faith in ourselves while not giving energy to the naysayers.
Who would be your dream collab?
My dream collaboration would be Jon Bellion—he is absolutely amazing—or Skepta.
What are you up to in quarantine?
The first time we went into lockdown, I loved it because I had a lot of time to get things done, such as doing more writing, listening to old songs, and loving my space, so it was really a tranquil time for me. Now that we are back in lockdown once again for another six weeks, I really miss performing, being on a stage, and meeting different people along the way. So to keep myself busy, I’ve been trying to learn Spanish online which is a nice challenge, and I also have some videos coming up which is very exciting.
What are your goals, musically and otherwise?
One of my goals musically is to become very successful in my music while staying true to who I am, in regard to my style and personality. I really want to use my platform to start a mental health foundation that helps not only up-and-coming artists, but also young adults who are dealing with mental disorders but aren’t seeking help because of the stigma or because they are struggling to cope. I also want to help the young kids and families in Nigeria who are homeless and struggling to meet their daily needs. There’s so much I want to do, and that’s why I need to keep working hard.
We are all going through it right now, and one thing I think we can all agree on is that every single person on Earth is stressed out. And if you’re not, I’m sorry, but you’re kind of a serial killer. Sure, you could deal with this stress by working out obsessively, or baking banana bread, or doing a million face masks, or you could just put on a chill playlist and just f*cking relax for an hour. Enter: Houseplants, the highly anticipated debut album from Kai Exos. Drawing on R&B, soul blues, jazz lo-fi and more, it’s a great album to put on while you work, smoke (your juul, nothing illegal here), or just like, vibe. Are the kids still vibing these days? Whatever. And Betches readers can get an exclusive first listen of Houseplants now, out May 1 via VMP Music.
From blissed-out (“Big Dreams”) to exuberant (“We Don’t Care”), Houseplants shows off Kai’s range as a singer, songwriter, and producer. Lyrical topics span from his cultural upbringing and family traditions (“Land & Sea”, “Broad Beans”) to challenging societal norms (“We Don’t Care”) to yes, obviously, matters of the heart (“Sci Fi”). He tells Betches, “Each song is a totem for how I’ve designed my life and career—these are the careful little things that make a recluse happy. We built a studio in my new house this past Fall and spent the next three months together doing The Houseplants Sessions. The whole fam while I had different friends down from T.O. same time. All that love is the mix. Pre-isolation, I was hopping from here to the East coast, so I needed my space to become a sanctuary for creative energy to bloom. I’m supercharged by the daily cultivation.”
If the name Kai Exos sounds familiar, it could be because his singles “Hold Out The Light” and “Fire & Brew” charted on Billboard’s Top 40, or maybe because the video for his single “Komorebi” amassed over 1 million views. (Or because he’s been featured in Betches before.) The LA- and Toronto-based songwriter and producer is definitely one to watch, with a global tour under his belt (TBT to tours) and a 2018 EP that garnered over 5 million streams worldwide. So if you’re one of those people who likes to gloat about how you knew an artist before they got big, you’re going to want to hit play and then text your group chat.
Be one of the first people to listen to Houseplants below, exclusive for Betches readers.
Image: Juan Veloz
Halloween is like, here, and you’ve procrastinated your costume, your plans, and undoubtedly your playlist. While we can’t really tell you what to wear or what to do (if you didn’t grab a Shop Betches costume while you had the chance, you’re SOL, but we tried), we can help you on the playlist front. We asked singer-songwriter on the rise Nick Hissom to do the hard work of creating a Halloween playlist everyone at your party/pregame will love, and he came through. Wait, who’s Nick Hissom? He’s a 25-year-old British singer-songwriter who just dropped his first single, “He Ain’t Better,” which has already racked up over a million streams on Spotify. He’s got an album on the way, which, spoiler, has features with the likes of Bryson Tiller and Rick Ross. 2017 might not be anyone’s year but Nick’s. (Maybe 2018 will pan out for us.) We also sat down with Nick to talk about his music, his former fuckboyish ways, his partying, and more. Check out the interview and playlist below, and listen to “He Ain’t Better” on Spotify.
How did you get into music?
I started writing songs from my college dorm room, which is a pretty common starting place for a lot of artists. I sent them out to some DJs that I knew, who invited me to collab on a song, and from there started working with producers. started making songs, and sending them to people all over the place—flying back and forth to LA, Miami. And several years later, here we are.
Who are some of your favorite up-and-coming artists?
I really like Samantha Harvey; she’s from the UK. I wouldn’t say that Conor Maynard is up-and-coming anymore, he’s more of an established star, but I still think he’s really cool and very talented, and doesn’t get as much cred as he deserves. I also like Stanaj; he’s new. Met him in the parking lot at the VMAs. We were both wrecked haha.
How did you link up with Rick Ross, Bryson Tiller, etc? What was it like to work with them?
The whole thing with Rick Ross and Bryson Tiller came about through Miami. I knew a bunch of the writers that worked with Bryson on his first album, and they connected us. Then with Rick Ross, he had done a track with Scott Storch, who’s a friend of mine through my manager, Derek Jackson. We all spoke and they let me cut it, , “Let’s see what it sounds like,” and uh, yeah, it was awesome! I can’t wait for everyone to hear it!
How would you describe your sound? What do you think sets you apart from other artists?
I would describe my sound as R&B or rhythmic pop. I think what sets it apart from other artists’ is that it’s a lot to do with my vocal tone and the swag. That’s really my signature, because that’s me. I also collab and work with a lot of hip hop producers and artists, so there’s a bit of that too. I’m a mix of everything that’s edgy, urban, but still danceable and fun.
What do you like doing when you’re not making music?
When I’m not making music, um.. I party. Honestly, making music is so stressful that when I’m not making music, I wanna go crazy, go to Vegas, New York… Any city I’m in just as long as I’m with good people. I also like to vacation and chill out too, but normally I don’t have enough time off to go anywhere too far from where I’m at, so I just hit the club or my bed—either one.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
When people leave doors open, or clothes on the floor. I have so much OCD. You know, I live with all my friends a lot of the time, so the worst thing is when I’m going to bed, and people are partying in my bedroom, and someone’s leaving, and they forget to shut the door!! I spend all night walking around my house shutting doors and stuff, before I can go to sleep. I’m weird; it drives me crazy
What’s your most overused emoji?
Probably the praying hands because I say thank you a lot. The heart is pretty overused as well, and the platinum record emoji, because that’s the dream. You gotta stay motivated, gotta stay music. I use the smiley face a lot, too. I’m a pretty chill guy. I try to send good vibes to people. Or memes. Whatever.
What’s the biggest fuckboy maneuver you’ve ever pulled (and do you feel bad about it now)?
Mmm, I was 18. I was pretty out of control. I took this one girl as my date to a big weekend party in Paris, very formal, and ended up leaving with a different one…I definitely felt a little guilty. May have had a girlfriend too while this was happening…not good, I apologize. Now I care a lot more. I’m more considerate. If I care, I care a lot. I’m great, when I care. “He Ain’t Better”, you know, haha.