SOUNDR is an artist not afraid to be honest and immensely vulnerable through her music, and nowhere is this showcased better than on her newly released EP ‘MONSTERS IN MY HEAD.’ The collection focuses strongly on mental health and wellbeing, with the songs inspired and influenced by her own personal experiences. PopWrapped caught up with SOUNDR to find out about the creative process behind the record and her goals and ambitions for 2022.
You released your debut EP ‘MONSTERS IN MY HEAD’ recently. Can you tell us the influence or story behind the title?
I wanted to allude to the idea of voices in your head, but they’re all your own voice. All your previous selves – the ‘yous’ that went through so many difficult things. The you that maybe hasn’t healed all your mental scars yet. And your own voice in your head is creating this negative internal dialogue. Beating yourself up and contributing to a dark view of the world around you. But those voices are also not who you are today. It’s okay to acknowledge all that you’ve lived through, and still know you’re not that person today. You’ve done the inner work. You’ve grown.
I guess all that to say – I am the monsters in my head. I am everything I’ve been through and seen in my life. All the struggles and also all of the growth and grace it takes to be human. Full of duality. I am everything all at once, and very okay with that.
Can you talk us through the making of ‘MONSTERS’? How did you find creating this body of work during the pandemic?
Creating these songs was an entirely new process and experience for me. I had been working towards creating for the SOUNDR project for a while, but I was very used to the EDM topline world – writing vocals for electronic producers – and the free reign of creating for my own project was very different. It took me a few sessions to be 100% comfortable and confident in creating exactly what I wanted to create. But when we did get in that flow, it was so cathartic and fun.
We worked on this record, and many more songs, throughout the pandemic when everything else was shut down. So, I literally spent time at home and in the studio, nowhere else. Which I think contributed to how vulnerable and intimate the songs ended up being. Because I didn’t have the everyday ‘distractions’ – even though having a social life is a really good ‘distraction’ – I was able to fully just dive into my own mind and start digging up old wounds I hadn’t processed or healed yet, and express them in these songs. In doing so, I healed and grew as a human and an artist. And we’ve now created this vulnerable, honest space where I can learn about other people’s experiences and really connect with people that listen to my music. I’m extremely grateful for what I was able to do with that time of undivided attention.
Which song on ‘MONSTERS’ would you say was the most difficult to finish?
Probably “IT ME.” It was loads of fun to write, but because it is so outside of what I had done previously, I had a lot of ideas and was also very choosy about where we went instrumentally. We originally had a more EDM-esque breakdown instead of the guitar solo and it just didn’t feel right to me. So, we went back in and my producer Stetson tracked out the awesome guitar solo that’s in the final version of the song. Usually, I get this gut feeling when a song is complete. I’m not entirely sure how to explain it – but you just know when a song has reached its final form. And it took a little bit to get there with “IT ME.” But I’m so happy with what we did on this track. It’s killer.
Which song is the most vulnerable one in the record?
“MANIA” was definitely the most difficult one for me to come to terms with releasing. It is a subject matter that I hadn’t really talked about previously. Even though I try to be vocal about mental health, I still struggle with being comfortable talking about deeply rooted things sometimes, and “MANIA” was one of those.
Writing that song was damn close to a ‘one take’. I wrote it really late one night in the middle of an insomnia spell when I was really struggling with depression. I was feeling so isolated and like I was in a completely different reality than everyone else. And the song kind of just poured out of me. It was something I needed to express. And I think the song is so beautiful. It might actually be my favorite track on the record. But when it came time to release it as a single, I was so anxious about it. I hadn’t experienced feeling that naked in front of the world before. But I knew it was necessary. I knew if I felt those feelings so strongly, it was likely that someone else out there felt the same. And we could all use a reminder that we’re not alone.
Were there any songs, books, or even films that you listened to, read or watched while making ‘MONSTERS’ that maybe influenced you and the creative process in some way?
I was actually reading manga and watching lots of anime – I’m so new to that world and absolutely love it. I think diving into consuming a new medium helped me step outside of my typical way of thinking. It actually really inspired me – I felt more inclined to create without an end goal than I had in a long time. Japanese culture in general is just so beautiful. Sometimes we need something new to us to come into our lives, to stir up our perspective and give us a fresh look at art and creating.
I was also listening to a lot of my old favorite bands – lots of emo and alternative stuff. The Used, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, The Spill Canvas, as well as people that are newer to that space and are absolutely killing it. Like YUNGBLUD, Ashnikko, Waterparks, etc. I’d say yes, those artists influenced my creative process in that I’ve always had so much respect for an artist that says exactly what they need to say without boundaries, or concern for what others think. And that’s what I set out to do with this EP – say what I felt needed to come out of my brain and heart without boundaries.
What do you do when you feel like you’re in a creative rut?
I’m still learning what processes work best for me! But when I’m feeling stuck or in a rut, I really try to take a step back. Usually, creative blocks happen for me when I’m neglecting another part of me or my life – like if I haven’t been taking care of my mental health or physical body, or if there’s a conflict I need to pay more attention to. So, taking a step back and addressing the human in the artist, if that makes sense?
Also, over the past few months I’ve started a new practice of setting a timer for myself. I’ll set a 3-4 hour timer and sit down to write for that amount of time, completely focused on that one task. At the 4th hour, if I’m in a good flow and making something I’m excited about, I’ll keep working. If it hits that 4th hour and I’m feeling frustrated or defeated, I step away. Sometimes just for an hour or so, sometimes for the rest of the day. Really it just comes down to letting go of the pressure we put on ourselves to be creating every second of everyday. We’re humans… We’re not song-writing robots…the song will happen. Let yourself be human, take care of your body and mind, and the music will come.
What’s the nicest comment or message you’ve ever received from a fan?
A few of the songs on this record have opened up this really cool space for people to talk about things they’ve experienced. Which is incredible to me – I was vulnerable and shared pieces of myself, and now I get the opportunity to hear about other people. To hear their stories and experiences and connect. That’s been extremely rewarding – and so, so humbling.
One of the coolest things that has happened recently was I did a merch giveaway for the first person to guess the title of the EP based on the hashtag #MIMH. I sent the person the shirt and a little note and they DM’d me saying it was their first piece of artist merch they’ve ever owned! They were so excited to have it. It was just a really cool thing for me – as artists sometimes it’s hard to see real life examples of our art out, in the world, if that makes sense? But to know that that person will forever remember that their first piece of merch ever was a SOUNDR shirt is so cool. Makes it feel real. That real people listen to my music during their day. That these songs are a part of their intricate worlds and lives. Such an amazing feeling, it’s really an honor to be an artist. I’m very grateful.
Any goals for 2022?
Write! Write more for my project. Collaborate with more artists in the alternative/emo/pop-punk space. I’ve always loved this music, so to be working in these genres with other insanely talented artists is very inspiring. I’m constantly daydreaming about what sounds and songs we’ll find. We also have a focus on live performances, whether that be live streams or acoustic sessions for social media, or live shows – that’s a major goal for next year. More than anything, I’m looking forward to digging deep and writing from that vulnerable space right underneath my skin and growing as a songwriter, vocalist, and human. So much more music to come!
Give ‘MONSTERS IN MY HEAD’ a listen below and for more information on SOUNDR, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.