For those that are unfamiliar with Paradisia the exciting and extremely talented independent three-piece formed after The Night VI disbanded a few years ago. The band is currently made up of Sophie-Rose (vocals), Anna (harp) and Kristy (vocals, keyboard) and Sound of Freedom their magnificent debut album arrives on 26th May 2017 with wonderful album artwork designed by Anna as well. The album can be pre-ordered here and features an incredibly individual combination of sound and classic instrumentation.
The band's name itself is a word they use to describe an idealistic and beautiful aesthetic, a space away from reality to a place that occupies a perfect limbo between this world and a dreamlike utopia. The diversion to a higher sphere that music tends to offer most often; escapism. With relatable lyrics that draw inspiration from personal experiences, Paradisia is a world in to which most can escape.
With influences seemingly tinged from extremely catchy and popular 70s songs in "Idea of You" and "Keep on Preying" all through to anthemic ballads such as "Silent Lover", gob-smacking harmonies in "Tell Me", and some surprising subtle vibes of R&B in "Just Words", it's a release that's impossible not to sing along to. (Not to mention Sophie-Rose arguably also has one of the most distinct and recognisable voices of our generation.) The album in many ways documenting life after a break-up will feel very resonant and real for many listeners. Upbeat one moment, and wistful and downcast the next; it really amazingly captures day-to-day life. Something that really makes this album standout as unique is the reflection and reformation of self-identity. I caught up with them ahead of their London headline date at the Omeara in June to have a chat.
How is it being an independent band releasing your debut album?
Kristy: Well there are upsides and downsides, but we've just totally embraced it and taken it on. We do literally everything ourselves, although we do have a German distribution label.
I noticed you have a real minimal and yet classic sound in "Sound of Freedom". It seems to really say more being less. I also love the use of the harp. Can you tell me a bit about writing songs together for the album?
Anna: Some of the songs we wrote a long time ago, and some are brand new. There are two songs that we decided quite last-minute needed to go on, in fact the opener and the closer. The opener is just the three of us.
Kristy: Yeah, it starts a cappella, which is really cool. We started doing it live after it was written, and we'd just open with it. We found that if you started singing with just voices, as a listener there's nothing you can do but just turn around. We thought lets open the album like that.
You toured with Michael Kiwanuka and opened for Carole King; two incredible performers and songwriters. What was that like?!
Kristy: We feel really lucky to have been put with such incredible, amazing artists. The Carole King show was one of the best shows I've ever seen in my entire life. I was crying.
Anna: Yeah, there was this really old lady who was really moved that we knew all the songs. We ended up just hanging out with her! Michael Kiwanuka sounds exactly like his record. It was stunning. The second night we were supposed to go, but we had to stay the whole night to listen to him play.
The new record is called "Sound of Freedom." Can you tell me a bit about what it means for you as a collection of songs?
Kristy: I would say it's definitely an album about love, relationships and heartbreak and everything that comes with that. It's a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. You'll probably be dancing one minute and then you might have a little cry a bit later on.
Sophie-Rose: There was no concept to the album we just wrote very honestly throughout. Lyrically, it's a tale of truth form our own lives to others, obviously with a little bit of drama so it's a bit more exciting. It's also about growing up and facing change. I think no one really talks out having to grow up as it's just something we're expected to do. It was cathartic, which is predominantly why we tend to write those sorts of songs. It's also why it's called "Sound of Freedom" because we felt free after we had made the album.
What kind of music were you listening to when you wrote the record. I can hear some secret Prefab Sprout & 70s music?! Were there any unexpected influences for you all?
Anna: We like so many different things. For example I really like hiphop and R&B. It's all about the harmonies, and songs with real instruments. We're obsessed with Loyle Carner.
Sophie-Rose: It's such a mix of new and old. We just bring in songs that we're inspired by, maybe not necessarily artists. For example Radiohead – House of Cards inspired "Dreamer." I don't think you need to write an album about just one thing. Every album is so eclectic these days.
Kristy: I listen to all sort of things, but I do quite soul and R&B music, so maybe I'm a little but more influenced by that without knowing.
You have a Bruce Springsteen cover on the album. Who is the biggest Bruce Springsteen fan?! How did it come about?
Sophie-Rose: We're kind of obsessed with the song "Dancing in the Dark." It takes a lot to cover a song you don't truly love because you have to represent it. Although, we had no choice but to slow it down as we wanted to take it somewhere else. Anna actually looked up what the song means, and everyone thinks its about a girl, but when you listen it's not about that it's about something else entirely. It's a song about him being asked to write a hit by his record label. I think songs where you take a meaning from it that are different to what was intended are really clever.
Kristy: It came about when were in Hanover making the album. Our producer persuaded us to do a cover, and Anna came up with the idea of Dancing in the Dark. We sat down at a piano, and Soph and I started singing it and it just came together. It was quite immediate.
How did you all meet and come to write music as Paradisia?
Kristy: I moved to London when I was 18 and I went to this singing school called "vocal tech." Sophie was in my class and I hate to say this, but we were the only ones who could sing. Sophie left after three months, but she started singing in this punk band at the time and she asked me to join her.
Sophie-Rose: Our first show was Brixton Academy supporting Jamie T. We did it for fun and experience and we played the most dingiest holes in London, but then we also got to play Brixton Academy. There was a real sort of culture around this group. Everyone went to their gigs and there was crowd-surfing all the time. However, away from that I had a desire to have harp music in my own music and one day went to a house party on Portobello Road. It turns out that Anna lived there and had a harp. It was a match made in heaven and then we formed a band.
You have some writing/production from the Mystery Jets on the album. Which songs did he help out with?
Sophie-Rose: Matt Twaits who co-produced the last Mystery Jets album helped out with Keep on Preying, Tell Me and Dreamer. We sort of brought him in last minute as a friend.
Kristy: We were really lucky with that opportunity. We were given a house in France with a view from Mont Blanc and just hid away writing songs.
You have a London headline show at the Omeara June 14th. Can you tell us a bit about what to expect?
Sophie-Rose: We've got this incredible support from Rothwell, who sounds a bit like an 18 year old Adele. We're going to do the album from start to finish. Come along!
Catch Paradisia live in the UK:
3rd June @ FloVibe Festival, Northhampton
9th June @ Isle Of Wight Festival, Isle of Wight
14th June Headline show @ Omeara, London
27th June @ Kendall Calling, Cumbria