Did you know that this song ain’t written in Hungarian?, ask the members of the Hungarian duo Sophie M in their debut track mother tongue. Zsofi Borsi sat down with these new up-and-coming talents from Budapest to talk about inspirations, future plans and hypocrisies.
While the duo have been making music separately for a while, it was only half a year ago that they decided to commit to a long-term common project – one that was all about experimenting with new sounds and interesting lyrics without the need to take themselves too seriously.
With an eclectic mix of RnB, soul, jazz and rap, they aren’t afraid to challenge the norms of the Hungarian alternative music scene, which still tends to hold a narrow focus on indie rock and techno.
For inspirations, both members name Frank Ocean, James Blake, Al Green, Noname and The Internet as their primary influences. Yet the originality of their duo lies in their ability to give these Anglophone foundations a unique, foreign twist, which comes across both in their vocals and a certain mood or feeling that they capture through lyrics.
If the lyrics of mother tongue “ain’t written in Hungarian”, they are a painfully accurate depiction of the alternative youth bubble of Budapest and its liberating yet often simultaneously suffocating atmosphere:
“God, they recycle,
No new music, no new rapping
Broken collabs, techno back to backs
Shit, I am bored, let’s do e-bombs or crack
Get a panic attack, become paranoiac
Tweet only negative feedback
And end up just like Kodak”
Sophie M claim that their lyrics aren’t purely criticisms of the subculture they are trying to grasp, but rather a feeling that they know way too well. They are, to some extent, also part of this bubble. While trying to go beyond existing stereotypes, their awareness of East-West axis of belonging, and a certain sensation of not fitting in becomes clear:
“We act like copies of the west
All the asaps, all the jazz, all the the Kanyes, all just dressed
Sneakers on head n’ toes
West you’d say, we aint that
East, you’d think nah we don’t want that”
It is all about self-criticism with a touch of irony, they explain. For someone following a similar life course to the authors of the track, who have both spent substantial time in Western Europe before moving back to Budapest, the above lines just speak for themselves.
It is looking like a busy year in the life of Sophie M. They are currently composing the electronic soundtracks for a Budapest-based contemporary dance-theater play. Once that’s over, they want to focus on finishing their debut album, Balance, which should come out later this year. And, if that wasn’t enough already, live DJ sets both in Hungary and abroad are also planned.
As there’s clearly really no way to escape Sophie M, you might as well give them a listen!
By Zsofi Borsi
A Budapest-born politics and economics graduate of Durham University, UK, Zsofi Borsi wrote her thesis on conspiracy theories present in Hungarian online political discourse. She currently pursues her graduate studies at Central European University in Budapest and Vienna. Zsofi has worked as an intern at various political and non-governmental organisations in Hungary, such as Political Capital Research and Consultancy Institute, Tom Lantos Institute or Klubrádió. To check out her latest articles, it’s right here!