Interview by: Maegan Grendell | Photos by: Ira Mapho
MAEGAN: Introduce yourself! Where are you from? How'd you get into music?
SOPHIE: Well, hi, I'm Sophie. Sophie Holohan. It's like hologram. A lot of people say hoo-la-han. I'm like, “Oh, that's fine”. I'm from San Jose, California. But I was born in the suburbs of Chicago. I got into music because my family was really musical growing up. They wanted to do musical careers, but decided to take more conventional paths. So there was always music growing up. So I started writing songs when I was five. It's just been in my life since then. So it was a natural progression.
MAEGAN: Do you think you would've found your way to music if your family hadn't been so musical?
SOPHIE: That's a really good question. I think so. It's just something that I like. I don't know if I necessarily would've found it as early. I love to write songs and I think I would've found my way to it eventually. I think it probably would've taken a while, but I probably would've found it in school or something like that along the way.
MAEGAN: Is music always something you wanted to do career wise?
SOPHIE: Yes and no. That was always the end goal. That was always what I expected I was gonna do in my life. I didn't think it was going to happen this early in my life necessarily. It's weird cuz I simultaneously thought it was gonna happen a lot earlier and a lot later. I thought I was gonna be on American Idol when I was 15, but I also thought that I was gonna go to Yale and then go to law school and then do music eventually. It was a weird push pull, but I always wanted to do it as a career. I just didn't think it would necessarily happen so soon. Yeah, that makes sense
MAEGAN: What have you been working on recently?
SOPHIE: I have finally finished my first EP which is really exciting. It's called 'The Space Between'. It comes out October 14th. I've been working on that for a year and it's finally done. It feels like my little baby. I put my heart into it. I didn't really understand when artists used to say that. But it is my child. I think making a body of work versus making individual songs is a very different experience because it's telling a story together. And getting to do the visuals and things for it has been really awesome. But now that that's finally done, I'm starting to work on my next music!
MAEGAN: Do the songs on ‘The Space Between’ have a common theme in them?
SOPHIE: Yes. I called it the ‘Space Between' because that's a line in one of the songs, but also each song is a space between something and something else. The first song that came out from the EP is called 'Cognitive Dissonance'. It's about the space between self sabotage and action. It's that weird space of like, you wanna do something so bad, but you can't get yourself to do it. And then there's another song called 'Olive Branch', which is a song about forgiveness versus resentment. And then there's another song called 'Megan's Song', which is about my best friend, and it's about the space between friendship and platonic love. It's all telling the story of growing up through these weird in between places.
MAEGAN: Did you write more than six songs for the album? How do you pick just six?
SOPHIE: Yes. That is such a good question. I think it just made sense. The story came together and the sound came together. I write all the time. I probably write at least four, five songs a week. And so narrowing it down to six from a year's worth of songs was hard. One day, I was driving home from LA to the Bay Area to see my family. I was with my sister and I was just driving and then I had this eureka moment and I was like, "These are the six”, and then I arranged it in the order and it just worked.
MAEGAN: That's a lot of songs to just have in your back pocket. Do you think you'll ever do anything with them or are they just gonna stay unreleased, just for you?
SOPHIE: I think that's a good question. I think some of them will probably eventually make it onto an album in the future. They just didn't work in terms of the motifs and sound of this EP. But some of them will just stay in my phone with my voice memos or notes forever. Which is kind of cool.
MAEGAN: What was the very first song you released and when was it?
SOPHIE: I released a song called ' Orange' when I was 17. My dad helped me produce it in my house. And my dad is not a professional producer. It was just a passion thing because he had always loved to do music, but had never done it professionally. So he literally spent a year working on the song when normally producing a song takes maybe two weeks or something like that. But he spent a year working on it. We released it, it was like all DIY, very exciting. It was almost a self love, empowerment song. Pretty cheesy. I love it. It's still in my SoundCloud. Sometimes people still ask for it. They're like, "Where did Orange go?". And I'm like, “It's gone. It's gone”. But I really loved it. It taught me a lot about making music and recording, but it just doesn't necessarily feel like me anymore. But it was a really cool experience to release it. I was the only music-y person at my school who was making their own music. People in my school were hyping it up. It was a cool experience.
MAEGAN: Was it intimidating when you first started releasing music?
SOPHIE: For sure. It's weird because it's always something that I've done. I've been writing songs since I was literally five. And so going from having them be, not to be like cliche, kind of like a mental escape, a way to like dump everything out... from going from it being an outlet to a career is weird because then you start thinking "Oh, will other people like this?". Instead of, "Do I like this?". I think that is a weird thing to weigh whether it feels like you. I think now I'm in a place where I'm just excited for people to hear it cuz I'm so proud of what I created.
MAEGAN: What song are you most excited for?
SOPHIE: Probably 'Olive Branch' because I produced it 90% myself, which is a new thing for me. It's just a very weird song. It has like 21 tempo changes, it has the bridge in the middle of the song. It's really weird and I really love it and I'm very proud of it. And that is like the baby of all babies, you know?
MAEGAN: What song have you already released that you are most proud of?
SOPHIE: I think it's probably a tie between 'Codependent' and 'Cognitive Dissonance', because 'Codependent' was the first song that I released with my label and it was the one that went viral on TikTok. It was super exciting and it was the first song that I got to work with a real producer on. It was pretty amazing to feel as though my dreams were coming true. And I also just love the song and I'm proud of it. I also am really proud of 'Cognitive Dissonance' because it was definitely a step outside of my comfort zone in terms of sound. I also got to work with some really cool people on the song. I just really enjoyed the process of it.
MAEGAN: Who are your musical inspirations?
SOPHIE: Oh my gosh, I have so many. I love Taylor Swift. I am a diehard swiftie. I was listening to her on the way here.
MAEGAN: Really? What were you listening to?
SOPHIE: I was listening to my songs on shuffle but 'Begin Again' popped up and that song always makes me feel some type of something. I love Phoebe Bridgers. My mom is a Brandy Carlisle stan, so that has rubbed off on me. I love this guy Matt Maeson. He's a huge inspiration to me. I like different genres. I feel like a lot of times individual songs also inspire me too. Adele... I love her... Daniel Caesar. Those are some of the big ones
MAEGAN: Outside of music, what inspires you?
SOPHIE: Honestly, I love just having conversations with people, unnecessarily deep conversations. I'm a Gemini, so I love to chat. I love to dive deeper into things and just getting to connect, that really inspires me. I also like to make really bad paintings and that inspires me. I feel like it really does heal my inner child because I like to make bad little cartoons, and finger paint and things like that. Because music is my job now, I feel like sometimes there's a lot of pressure in that regard in my life. So it's nice to have other creative outlets that I can mess up and do badly at.
MAEGAN: What's your dream collaboration? Who do you really want to work with?
SOPHIE: I mean, if I got to do anything with Taylor Swift, I think I would actually vomit and throw up and die. I just adore her. I think Matt Mason too. I would love to work with him because he just inspires me so much and I think he has inspired my writing a lot. So getting to do anything with either of them, I think I would die. I don't even know what I would say.
MAEGAN: What are some of your long-term and short-term goals right now?
SOPHIE:Long-term goals... I really want to make an album that's paired with a movie. I want to do that so badly. I wouldn't necessarily be in the movie because I'm not a good actor, but I just would love to fully write a story through music and have that be shown visually. Short term... I really want to go on tour so badly and at least open for someone. I think that would be so exciting. Performing is my favorite. I like to sing, but I love to write songs and I love to do the performance aspect of it.
MAEGAN: Do you get to perform a lot?
SOPHIE: A decent amount, once every month or maybe twice every month? I've been doing more performances the past couple of months. But I would love to do it every night for a month or two.
MAEGAN: Does it scare you at all?
SOPHIE: It used to. I have really bad anxiety just in general. Before I had meds I would not be able to do anything the entire day. I would just be so stressed out. But now I feel like I've done it enough that I believe in myself enough to be like, “it's gonna be okay. You love to do this" and just get on stage and do it. And as soon as I get on stage, a little switch flips in my brain and I'm Performance Sophie. But I think right up until that moment, sometimes I can get a little scared for sure.
MAEGAN: Let's talk about TikTok a little bit. How did you get into that? Did you think that it would really feed into your career as much as it has?
SOPHIE: No, I did not think it was gonna be successful at all because I had been posting music on the internet since I was like 10 on YouTube and Instagram. I was like, "Oh, great, another platform. I'm gonna fail". I just started posting and I seriously started posting in August of 2020 maybe. Then I just kept posting like nothing was happening. October of 2020 is when I had my first semi-viral video. It was the first video that I ever had that got to a thousand likes. But then it eventually hit 350,000 views and I was like, "this could be an actual thing, I didn't realize". I started posting relatively consistently and then things started taking off really around March of 2021.
MAEGAN: What's been the biggest moment of your career so far? What milestone are you so proud of?
SOPHIE: I don't know if it's necessarily the biggest, but…I love this guy Del Water Gap. He's so good. I saw him play at the Troubadour in November, and that was the first time I've been to the Troubadour. I was with someone from my label and they were like, “you're gonna play here within the year”. And I was like, "that'll never happen". Then in April I got to open there and that was like the craziest thing because that was my Dream LA venue, and it happened within five months. It was such a magical night knowing that someone I loved and respected so much played there. When Harry Styles came to the US for the first time, like on his solo stuff, he performed there first. It was very validating to be able to perform at a place where so many people that I look up to have performed.
MAEGAN: How do you spend your time? What do you love to do?
SOPHIE: Like I said, I make little paintings. I love doing that. I think it's a really good way to pass the time. I love hanging out with my friends. I feel like I finally have a good little community here. It's really convenient because three of my best friends live together so I just go to their house and it's basically like my house at this point. I have a key and I just go there and we just all hang out. I feel like I'm having my college experience now, just enjoying other people's company and getting to know people.And I like to go to the flea market. The Los Feliz one is the best one in LA.
MAEGAN: How would you describe your music to new listeners?
SOPHIE: I'd probably say my music is introspective, sad girl pop. That's what I would probably say. I like to try to describe emotions and experiences that aren't described in music very often. So a lot of the time they're very niche experiences that somehow most people can relate to. It's so hard to put it into words, to describe a whole part of your life. It's indie-pop-folk-sad-introspective-young twenties music. That's what it is.
MAEGAN: Is there anything else you wanna touch on? Anything you wanna talk about with your EP?
SOPHIE: I'm just really excited.