Rapper, singer and song-writer Sophiegrophy has been making music since she was thirteen. Launching herself independently into the Australian rap scene with her debut mixtape, Purpularity, back in 2016, her distinctive sound is evolving with every new release, and the proof is in her steadily growing list of collaborators and community of listeners.
From memories about her upbringing in New Zealand, as a Nigerian transplant who lived for her outfits on free dress days, to making freestyle rap videos that get tens of thousand of views; Sophie’s lyrics speak directly from her day-to-day experiences. And that’s exactly what she says makes for the most meaningful material.
Timberland gave us the opportunity to catch up with her in Melbourne, and we spoke about what inspires her when it comes to style and dressing for an on-stage performance, the first rap she ever wrote, and the many different turns she has taken in her musical career since.
Hey Sophie, what’s inspiring you to make music at the moment and what are you working on?
The thing that’s inspiring me to make music at the moment, to be honest, is just seeing how powerful music has been lately, and how much it shapes our emotions and daily lives. Music is making the world go around, which is remarkable to see. The support I have from so many people in the industry right now comes into it too. Right now, I’m working on a track with a producer from Melbourne, Jia Lih.
Cool! Do you remember the first piece of music you ever made? Oh, yes! When I was about thirteen or fourteen I think wrote a remix to a jerking song–this was ages ago–it didn’t even really make sense, but it rhymed so I was like: ‘oh yeah! I did it!’.
How does that sound compare to what your music is like now?
Oh my god, there is such a big difference now, I’m an adult now first of all (laughs). Now, my music is much more emotional and I put more effort into writing things that make sense. Back then I was like ‘oh you know I just wanna write’, and especially at that age people respond with: ‘OMG, you wrote something!’ no matter what it is. But there is a big difference, which is coming from me and my new environment, and there is much more meaning to everything that I write.
So would you say becoming successful has changed the way you think of yourself or how you approach your music?
Obviously that changes people, but at the same time, the only way it has changed me is by enabling me to better my art and attention to detail, so that I make sure anything I put out is refined and not just a release for the sake of putting something out. Success hasn’t changed me in terms of my personality, but it has definitely improved my craft.
Yeah I see how that would happen. So, I love your Insta because it’s full of all your great looks, what would you say good style means to you?
(laughs) Aye, thanks! Honestly, good style to some people might mean brands and buying expensive things, but for me that’s not necessarily what style is about. Style for me is about confidence, when you wear something and it makes you feel confident, it shows in the way you move. And so you can wear the most expensive stuff, but if you’re not confident in yourself as a person then what is the point of wearing it? Style is all about being who you are–it has nothing to do with price or materialism, or anything like that. There is that saying; ‘you wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear you’.
Totally, I agree. What was fashion like for you and friends growing up in NZ?
So I’ve always been the ‘extra’ type (laughs). Everytime we had free dress day at school I was always the one rocking ‘extra’ – my hair was extra, everything was extra. I used to love leopard print and wearing lots of colour, and I always wore stuff that I guess a lot of people would have found pretty weird back then. I never cared because that is who I am–which is still the same today. So if I see something I like, I’m gonna wear it even though I know people might look at me like ‘what the heck?’. But I never put my mind to thinking about that. I’m not just gonna go with fashion based on trends and what the majority likes.
So it hasn’t changed over the years to what you wear now?
Nah, I’m still the same weirdo! (laughs)
How did you wear your Timberlands throughout the years?
So the first time I got Timberlands was back in 2012. Everyone started wearing them, which I loved too because they looked so great on anyone. But then one day I put my old Timberlands in the wash, and ruined them. I was so devastated! So I was so grateful for the beautiful new pair I got on the shoot! The shoe really goes with any outfit I wear – you can wear the simplest things and make them interesting by chucking on some Timberlands, and you’ve won.
Yeah I see you rock them a lot! How do you approach style on stage?
When I perform I love a baggy look. I love to wear oversized tops and oversized jackets, because it makes me feel more comfortable to be able to move around. If I’m not wearing an all-black or all-white look, I’m probably wearing heaps of colour, which I’m also a big fan of.
I’m interested to know more about your lyrics and how your cultural identity is dealt with in your work – is it something you sing about?
I tend to talk a lot about things I’ve seen or things that have happened to me and to the people around me. I find it really easy to write based on my emotions, because then it’s natural and about something that’s actually happened. Which is set apart from rapping and making shit up like ‘I got a Lamborghini’ and so on, you know (laughs)—talkin’ smack. So that plays a major part in my music – speaking from my experience, but then at the same time my childhood and everything I went through then plays a major role too. Growing up in Nigeria and then moving to New Zealand, I’ve seen a lot of things, and I’ve met all different kinds of people so that provides a lot of content and inspires what I write too.
It’s great that you can express that in your rapping! So ideally, where would you like to take your music next?
TBH I wanna keep persevering and becoming the best that I can be and hopefully through that, I’ll be able to inspire many more people, and get more listeners – that kind of thing!
This interview was created in partnership with Timberland. All pieces, including the Flyroam Go, are available now.
- Photographer: Michelle Grace Hunder