For the Sicily-born, London-raised musician Sophia Amato, emulating the music around her (which consisted of her parents’ eclectic album collection of soul, rock ‘n’ roll, and R&B) was an instinct since she was a toddler. “When I was young, actually, I wanted to be a singer,” says Sophia in conversation with Post-Burnout. “I knew I wanted to be a singer, so I was adamant on that, until I realised how difficult it could be! [Laughs]”
After familiarising herself with popular music, Sophia furthered her musical knowledge when she learnt classical music from singing in a choir. As a teenager, she set her artistic trajectory and found a love for various media disciplines. She studied Drama in college and had additional passions for painting, illustration, video making, writing, and (obviously) music. In her words: “It was always the arts. I was always with a paintbrush in my hand or a microphone. [Laughs]”
After college – with a versatile music interest, an educational foundation in media, an autodidactic knowledge of production, and an unexplainable instinct to be a singer – Sophia pursued music as an occupation, and soon found that she took a lot of inspiration from the forms of visual art that she studied. “When I write, I usually see things visually,” she says.
“And that’s why, even with this project, I’ve really leaned into producing and directing my own work, because when I create or if I’m making sounds, it’s usually influenced by a video, or a visual, or a world that I’m creating in my head that might sound like harps or sound like a certain drum, and I think for a long time, I was in environments where it was only music and I was really struggling because, actually, for me, it’s a bit of a whole.”
From the beginning of her musical career, Sophia had her sights set on making an album’s worth of music, as this gets to the centre of what she is always trying to achieve with her art, regardless of the medium which she chooses to express herself at a given time: Creating an engaging story. “Everything’s always album-length with me,” she says.
“I always try [to] extract the most of an experience or story, and even in my process of, I guess, a multidisciplinary, as well, I’m always like, ‘How much can we extract, visually?’ or ‘Where does the story feel like it ends?’ as well. And, in a commercial setting, we’re really condensed to this length of time and this way of presenting something in this format, and, actually, I don’t think like that; I think if there’s still more to say, you should say it in some way.”
Last month, Sophia released her second EP, NY/LON, which is a play on words between the fabric and the fact that her career mainly situates her between New York and London. We asked her how the EP differs from her previous debut EP, Glorious Mess, and she responded, “Glorious Mess, for me, was massive heartbreak, so it was such a moody EP. [Laughs] Like, synths and moody. “I think, with this one, you can tell, sonically, that I’m in a different area, as well. And it’s kind of got an energy to it.”
Sophia credits a lot of the EP’s bombastic atmosphere to her collaboration with the British multi-instrumentalist and producer, Karl Zine. “Most of this project I was writing with Karl Zine, who’s an amazing writer and producer and artist himself, actually,” says Sophia. “I really like working with him because he has a really great style of lyricism, and if I have got a pallet of words, he’ll accept that, and try and find the best words.
“And, in terms of production, I think he’s had quite a lot of experience working with live instruments and orchestras, and that was a really big sound that I’m leaning into right now; like, trying to bring some of that real widescreen orchestration into a pop sound, and, yeah, he wasn’t intimidated by any of that, [Laughs] which was good. So, yeah, it’s been quite a small group of us on this project: just me, Karl Zine, and Raphaella [Mazaheri-Asadi], who’s an amazing topliner and artist.”
On how the EP’s name relates to its music, Sophia says, “I think the sounds of the city really affected this EP, for sure. There’s a lot of different genres, just on the street. There’s a lot of culture and you hear a lot of rhythms, a lot of different personalities talking, and there is a bit of a density in the city that I wanted to bring into this EP, and an energy, for sure. You know when you’re going past buskers or people drumming? It’s that kind of real energy that we wanted to put into the live drums. That’s definitely influenced this project.
“And then the title. I have had the title for a while. I think I read that nylon, the fabric, was called ‘Nylon’ because there was some kind of shipping or something between New York and London. I might be paraphrasing that, but there was some kind of connection, so I thought it might be cool to write a song, and I kept writing different style songs, and I couldn’t find where it was, and then I realised that it needed to be not a song [but] an EP. And it actually could’ve been an album if I had more songs, which I have got! I have got, hidden away!”
With a title like NY/LON, we had to ask Sophia how she feels New York differs from London, and she told us, “London, for me, is my absolute home; like, it’s home for me. But New York has kind of got a similarity, but it has a boldness to it, and I think that’s really served me as an artist – maybe me, personally, as well – but me as an artist, definitely, in pushing ideas and not being afraid. And, yeah, I think there’s similarities but there’s also a few differences. Being between them, I can actually tell when I’ve been in London too long because I feel maybe less confident with ideas, and I need to get back over there and get that energy and kind of commit to the wild ideas that I have!”
Sophia Amato’s latest EP, NY/LON, is available to stream now. You can find all of Sophia’s details – including social media links, future releases, live dates, and more – on her website.
Aaron Kavanagh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Post-Burnout. His writing can also be found in the Irish Daily Star, Buzz.ie, New Noise Magazine, XS Noize, DSCVRD and more.