Meet Soleima, Danish contemporary pop music sensation about to take the US music scene by storm. Managing to combine breezy Scandinavian sound and catchy beats that are Summer-ready, Soleima released her first big international project, Bulldog, only a couple of weeks ago. The EP, a 5-track mini-album, is filled with laidback tunes and a familiar Northern European vibe that's been making its way West from artists like MØ (a fellow Dane) and Tove Lo (from Sweden).
I sat down with Soleima to ask her about everything from inspiration and busting through writer's block, to her beginnings in a kid's hip-hop group back in Denmark.
Keep reading to learn more about the girl who's about to be all over your Summer night playlists.
This Interview has been edited AND CONDENSED for brevity and clarity.
"You just released your mini-album Bulldog, so I'm sure things must be pretty crazy right now"
"Yeah, it's nice to have it out, when you've been working on something for a long time, it's nice to send it out to the world!"
"So how does that feel to , you know, finally be releasing the big project that you've been working on and really get to put your voice and your sound out to a US-based audience?"
"It feels really really good and obvious those kinds of things are always super scary and of course you wonder a lot and worry about how it might be received, but most of all, it's just a really good feeling and I'm extremely happy about the outcome of it so I feel calm about putting it out."
"And where did the name Bulldog come from?"
"So actually... people have so many great interpretations of [the name], so I actually just let it be up to them to decide what it means. To me, it has lots of different meanings. I was at a point in my life where I was thinking a lot about trends instead of actually thinking about what I wanted and what makes sense to me, and this specific EP has been very much about getting out of that circle or string of thinking, so to me, the Bulldog represents this kind of trend and getting rid of that. But again, I actually enjoy not telling people what it means to me because everyone has been like 'maybe it's this, or maybe it means that!' And I love that people are thinking about what meaning Bulldog has"
"Definitely! And how you describe your music style?"
"My producer, he likes to call it 'Garage Pop' and that's actually a fun way to describe it, because it's like we combine electronic elements with more organic stuff and I just imagine us sitting in our parents garage or something like hitting pots and pans and yelling. I think it's fun and I like the image that comes to mind."
"What does your songwriting process look like?"
"So I've mainly been writing with myself, or with friends of mine back in Denmark and recently when I got signed to a label, I've started to do more writing with many different talented people, so that's a new thing for me to start writing with people I've never met before and I think the combination of both is the right direction because I still very much enjoy writing by myself and the solitude of being alone with your writing, but then again, it's fun to get out [in the US] and just get bombarded with inspiration from so many great people"
"Was there a song that you enjoyed the process of making, or that really fell together and clicked when you heard it?"
"There were definitely some songs on the EP that were easier. For example, the song 'Friend' I wrote it online, a friend of mine, John Calvert, sent me a beat and I wrote a song on it in like an hour. Then there are other songs that I have to fight a little more, I have to go back to it and change the melody, change some of the lyrics, open up the production... it doesn't mean that one way is better than the other, but to me sometimes the idea is just there when you hear the beat and it like the song is there already, you can just put your hand in the air and grab it."
"How do you get over creative blocks?"
"When you're alone you can just be like 'fuck that, I'm just gonna go out and hang with my friends', but it can be quite intimidating when writing with people you don't know because you kind of have to perform somehow. If you don't have a good idea, you just fake it until something comes out and it might not be very good, you know what I mean? And it's a practice, as well, to be able to write whenever and also to be able to be calm with the idea that not all the songs you write will be super great songs."
"WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SONG OFF YOUR EP 'BULLDOG'?"
"It's difficult to say because what I really enjoy is to put out a body of work, and that's - especially for pop artists- becoming more challenging because it's so normal just to put out singles. So I've really enjoyed being able to put together some songs that I think present the different colors of my music."
"WHO ARE SOME ARTISTS THAT INSPIRE YOU?"
"So many good artists right now! I listen to a lot of J. Cole, NAO, and Chance the Rapper. There's also a lot of good music coming out of Scandinavia right now, like a lot of Danish artists are really doing well. There's this guy called Vera who's extremely talented, and School of X, and this band Liss. I have to say, I think there's so much good music in the world right now and it's so amazing. It's very inspiring."
"What would you say are the main differences between Danish music and US music?"
"That's a difficult question, but I think obviously the US has always been a capital for music and we've always looked to you guys for inspiration, but I think more and more Scandinavians are starting to find their own style ... and also I think we're inspired by some other things than [the US], we're another kind of community, and obviously you're writing about stuff that's around you. So in that way, I think all countries have their own unique traits and if they use them and really cherish them, that's what I find interesting when I listen to music myself."
"HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN MUSIC?"
"I started out when I was a kid in a 7-piece hip-hop band, I was playing the piano and we were about 13 years old and we were very inspired by old school hip-hop like Wu-Tang and The Roots. We got kind of successful in Denmark, and would play a lot of shows here, and that was my introduction to music as a creator."
"What is the biggest challenge you've had to overcome in your career?"
"One of the most challenging things about this life is that it goes very much in ups and downs. It's like one day you'll get super good news and you'll feel extremely high and the next day or the week after, you'll get some bad news and you'll feel like 'oh my god, what are we gonna do?', everything comes and goes in extreme waves. Before, life was more... in between. It's quite addictive."
"WHAT BIG PROJECTS DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR 2018"
"So this is my first Summer playing festivals! I'm going to play a lot of festivals in Scandinavia this year, so that's gonna be really exciting, we're gonna play the EP, take it out to people and make it live a little! Then in the Fall, I'll be releasing new music."