Now up-and-coming West Midlands musician Sophielou is hoping to make her mark on the music industry with the release of her debut album, Soul Search.
The contemporary RnB singer, who describes her music as “conscious but cool”, has already gathered a loyal following since her third EP, Out With The Old, in 2017, which hit the top 10 on the iTunes R&B charts.
Now she is hoping to build on that success by appealing to a wider audience with her first full-length release, which will be followed by a home city show on August 29 at Wolverhampton’s Newhampton Arts Centre.
The same venue is also home to Beatsabar Studios where her album was recorded by her engineer Dominic Laird and Keith Dilworth and mastered by TRC at Beatsabar Studios.
The region is proving to be a hotbed of musical talent, with the likes of Walsall’s Jorja Smith and Bewdley’s Becku Hill, and Sophielou is ploughing her own furrow.
“The main theme of the album is about being yourself,” says Sophielou, whose real name is Sophie Louise Nedrick. “It’s about life, love and hurt.
“I’ve tried to make every song individual, I don’t like to put myself in a box. I like to have songs that make people think but then I also like to have a bit of fun with my music too.
“There is some rap, some spoken word and then straight singing. I always put myself into my music.”
The 27-year-old, who grew up on the Long Knowle estate in Wednesfield, first fell in love with songwriting after hearing JoJo’s Leave (Get Out) while she was a pupil at St Chad’s.
“Just hearing her lyrics really inspired me to write my own song. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I loved poetry and I knew I could rhyme so I started putting words together,” she explains.
Music then took a back seat to sport.
“I was determined to play for Wolves. I went for trials but I didn’t get through, which hit me hard. I went back to music when I was 18 and I haven’t stopped since.
“I recorded my first song on a £20 MP3 player that had a record button. I was under the impression I would have to go to London if I was ever to record properly, I didn’t know I would be able to do it in Wolverhampton,” says Sophielou, who now lives in the Compton area of the city.
She released her first EP Stepping Stones in 2012, aged 19, and continued to develop her songwriting following it up with her RnB mixtape Spiritual.
In November 2017, she began writing songs for her Soul Search and working with the sound engineers in the studio to bring album to life.
“With the EPs, people sent me tracks and I would write to them.” she continues.
“With Soul Search I was involved in the whole process. Although I’ve got the vocals and the words, the sound engineers really lifted them to a new level.
“It was great working as with the team and I feel really lucky to have people with the skills and talent to do that.”
Inspiration for her writing comes from every day life and the people she meets.
“I’m quiet an observer,” adds former youth worker Sophielou. “I like to have conversations and take everything in. Music is my therapy. It’s important to get everything out, not hold it all in so it explodes out later.
“I love telling stories, i always have done from a young age, and I love playing with lyrics and finding new words to rhyme. I love pushing myself.
“I get inspirations from life’s ups and downs and feeling grateful for what we have,” says Sophielou who is always noting down ideas for future songs.
She is incredibly proud of her roots and returned to the estate where she grew up to film a video for single No Ball Games. It was also the inspiration for the front cover of Soul Search.
“Growing up we didn’t have everything straight away so we had to use our imagination. It made me stay really humble.”
Sophielou, who names Drake as one of the artists she most admires, is also grateful for the support of her family and friends.
“My mum Lian was a bit wary to begin with because like all parents she wanted to protect me but now she’s 100 per cent my biggest fan and she’s in the front row singing and cheering,” she says.
Her performances this year have included taking to the stage at Birmingham Pride and Coventry Pride and she hopes to go on a tour soon.
Sophielou has also set her sights on one day performing Later with Jools Holland, which has proved a huge stepping stone for many new musical artists.
“I’m seen artists similar to me on Jools Holland so it’s really not impossible. It’s puts you in front of a new audiences. I don’t just want to appeal to my peels, I want to appeal to everyone from 16-year-olds to 70-year-olds,” she says.
And she’s not afraid of working hard citing Ed Sheeran as an example of someone who has achieved world-wide fame despite many struggles trying to make it.
“Some people have said to me why don’t you go on X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent but it’s not for me. Ed Sheeran did the unthinkable and he started as a busker, he didn’t go on any talent shows,” she says.
“He has stayed humble and goes on stage in his t-shirt and jeans. A lot of people make it on their own and that’s what I want to do.”
*Sophielou is performing at HMV in Wolverhampton at 3pm tomorrow.