Sophia Thakur has been described as ‘our generation’s first poetry influencer’. Hot after releasing her book of poetry ‘Somebody Give this Heart a Pen’ by Walker Books. She has now turned her attention to music with her latest single ‘Kumasi’ a love child of spoken word poetry and Afrobeats.
Kumasi is the first in a number of tracks following Sophia’s transition from poet to a music-led spoken word artist, combining words with music and social responsibility to push the traditional boundaries of poetry. However this is not foreign territory for Sophia having already worked with musical artists such as Jaja Soze, Jacob Banks and NAO. Her musical experience coupled with her empathetic storytelling is a match made in music heaven.
Tell us about your new song Kumasi!
It’s in between spoken word, afrobeats and storytelling. I think. Earlier this year I was invited to tour around Ghana and I brought back some stories. Some of which are whispered throughout the song if you listen carefully. I also brought back the sound and thought it could be interesting to see how poetry sits on it.
How have you found the transition from music to poetry is there a difference in the writing process?
I think that there is more space to fill with poetry. I have time to create characters and multiple storylines in one piece. I’ve found that with the music I’m leaning towards, one line has to be able to tie together so many feelings. In some ways it refines your pen to be more potent.
What inspires you in the writing process?
Man. I know it’s considered cliche but we live the poetry every single day. The inspiration happens to itself in every conversation, every new emotion and new realisation or relationship. I’ve always said that I wish I had hands and a notebook in my head to write absolutely everything observed. Sort of like a video camera with a pen.
You often talk about issues going on in society how much pressure do you feel there is to be a role model?
Luckily, my heart is with the young people. They are next up and the climate they’re growing up in isn’t easy. I’ve always had a heart for the people so art has always been an act of service on my end. My mother used to say so often that your gift is for the world, not you. I think it’s so important to set a good example. If you feel obliged, that is.
What issues in society are you currently concerned about and how do you think we can overcome them?
I’m so scared of what the pace of things is doing to our mental health. The state of our mind affects everything we do. Every decision, conversation and opinion. We aren’t encouraged to spend time working out what’s even going on up there. I wrote my book, Somebody Give This Heart a Pen with the aim of bringing people closer to their own stories. I think we all need to pause on ourselves and the ‘WHY’ behind our thoughts and behaviour. From there, we can keep a track on our mental health in a more honest way.
In the music industry women are often pitted against each other, have you found this competitive nature to be in the poetry scene? How important do you think a sisterhood is in this industry?
Female poets have always remained beautiful in my eyes. Sure there are moments of ego bashing but that’s human nature. I think that music differs from poetry because the ladder upwards is very clear in music, not so much with poetry. Everyone’s career is so unique to them, perhaps there’s less of a window to compete. That’s my experience anyway, but then I keep myself to myself.
What is your super -power as a woman?
Empathy and articulating from that point. It’s what makes me a storyteller. Also…my hair.
Do you think we are ready to embrace spoken word in mainstream music?
Hahaha, I HOPE! I think there’s space for more words in music, and a new way of telling stories so yes. I hope haha.
Who would your dream collaboration be?
It might be considered a bit random but I’d love to make a song with Santi (Nigerian artist) and H.E.R. They’re both so in their own step (mellow Afrobeats and RnB/Hip-Hop), I reckon we could make a really interesting pieces of music.
What songs are currently on your playlist?
Latir – Never Ending Song
Snoh Aalegra – I want you around
Allie Paige – In Your Midst
Ayanna – Party Tricks
Of course Sophia Thakur – Kumasi
What legacy would you like to leave in the music scene?
In everything, I just hope that people can consume my art and feel a bit closer to their own stories or at least be encouraged to give their hearts a pen. I believe in challenging whatever your craft is, so that too.
What’s next for Sophia Thakur?
Lots. Books. Music. Tours. Campaigns. In no particular order.
Sophia’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/SophiaThakur