Introducing… Montreal’s “Princess of the Dead”, Sophia Bel

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Montreal-based artist, singer, and producer Sophia Bel has always been slightly out of step with her surroundings. Born in Michigan to a Quebecois father and a Dutch-American mother, Bel grew up intrigued by the mysterious sounds of trip-hop and drum ‘n’ bass in the era of Britney and Christina. Her black fingernail polish made her the target of bullies at her school in suburban Quebec City, earning her the nicknames “Emo” and “Princess of the Dead.” As an artist, she’s reclaiming those hurtful names and owning them.

In September Sophia Bel released her song You’re Not Real You’re Just A Ghost – her first release on Bonsound. Produced by CRi (also known for his collaborations with Charlotte Cardin and Milk & Bone), the moody, alt-pop track is an angsty, ironic kiss-off from the perspective of someone who’s been ghosted. And what better way to deliver this put down than with the aloofness of a misunderstood teenager from the 2000s pop-punk era? 

I wanted to explore the accumulation of repressed angst that was evoked when rediscovering the pop-punk bands of my teenage years. You’re Not Real You’re Just a Ghost is a satirical take on the frustrations caused by a general lack of communication in relationships, referencing the blink-182, Good Charlotte, Avril Lavigne era,” Bel explains.

The single was accompanied by JF Suavé-directed video, which explores the fun and nostalgic feel of the track, as well as its eeriness and bittersweetness. These universal emotions are translated on screen by juxtaposing sunny images of Bel roaming around empty, suburban streets and fields, with gloomy but colourful shots of her dancing and singing.

Check the full video out below:

Every song Bel writes is about something real – an experience or scattered thought brought to life. Her songwriting process is intuitive, either starting with a musical idea from the piano or personal, inscrutable words jotted down on her phone. Not afraid to cover vastly different sonic territory with every release, Bel focuses on capturing the right feeling in that moment. For her, pop is more an aesthetic to pull from than a goal to achieve.

Plucking from a diverse array of musical styles to assemble her unique sonic bricolage, her rich soundscape is a patchwork of underground electronic music, skater punk, guitar folk, and even Quebecois hippie music. Lyrically, Bel delves into serious subjects aimed at anyone who’s ever felt alienated but does so with an occasional self-deprecating wink and her ever-present sardonic wit. With refreshing candor, she never wants the listener to get too comfortable with their surroundings. In Sophia Bel’s world, clichés are ripe for deconstructing.

You’re Not Real You’re Just a Ghost is out now on all music services.

Photos – Roxanne Selleck & JF Suavé

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