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You Snooze, You Lose: Soko On Making Dreams A Reality

The singer-songwriter on ditching her sad-girl persona to rock out.

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David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

When singer-songwriter Soko realized she'd rather stay in bed and dream the day away, she knew she had to make a change. Instead of taking it slow, however, she made over her entire life. She cut her hair, dyed it blonde, ditched her folk roots, and enlisted producer Ross Robinson to help her write some party-ready goth-pop. If she was going to gravitate toward morbid topics, at least she was having fun singing about them. The French alt-pop star recently stopped by BuzzFeed’s New York offices to talk about having a rich fantasy life, being inspired by Robin Williams, and making her new album My Dreams Dictate My Reality.

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What's the strangest dream you've ever had?

Soko: The record is called My Dreams Dictate My Reality because I was very depressed, my reality was an absolute nightmare, and my dreams were very beautiful and all I wanted to do was sleep forever, take sleeping pills, and never wake up. From this horrible thing and my dark mood came another realization: I can just snap out of it. It's up to me to make my reality as good as my dreams. I started feeling better and making my everyday life as good as I wished it would be. I take every single day as if it were my last and make it the best I can.

Once I dreamt that I was in a submarine that was flying in the air and it was driving so fast. Everything looked like it was straight out of Castle in the Sky. It was beautiful — I was back in the era of dinosaurs, there were ruins, and lots of wild, unkept land. Completely mind-blowing. In the dream, I was like, I need to take a photo so I remember this when I wake up. So, in my dream, I'm looking for my iPhone and then a submarine landed in the studio. At the time, I was recording with this producer, Ross Robinson, in Venice on the beach, and the walls in the studio — which I had never acknowledged because he has so much stuff — are blue. The dream submarine suddenly became the studio where I was making my record. The console was everywhere. The blue wall became the ocean and I could see whales and dolphins and fishes. When I woke up I was like, oh my god!

I was having crazy dreams while I was recording the album.

That's wild, because so much of what you just described — the dolphins, the mermaids, the ocean — is part of the album.

S: In a lot of my dreams I'm underwater. I can swim without breathing or I'll find a path that leads me to a quiet river and I'll float down the river and land in heaven. Which, in my dreams, is like a land with shiny gemstones on the floor where there is no more fear or worries or time. It was threatening to live up to that in my daily life, because I'm such a crazy dreamer.

There are a lot of fantastical elements and fairy tale characters—

S: Are you talking about Peter Pan?

—Peter Pan and mermaids and all this really fantastic stuff—

S: Mermaids is because of Ariel [Pink]. He's a little mermaid man. I wrote him a song that's not on any records that's called "The Little Mermaid Man" that maybe I'll release someday. It became his nickname.

If you were to identify with a monster or fantasy creature, what would it be?

S: Oh, Peter Pan! For sure.

Which Peter Pan? There are so many.

S: Robin Williams' Peter Pan, because I lost my dad when I was 5 and he looks a lot like Robin Williams, so when I saw Hook it became my favorite movie ever, ever, ever, and I thought that Robin Williams was my dad. One of the things on my list of things to do before I die was meet him. Because he was such a big part and such a huge influence on my life. I met his daughter Zelda. I was DJ'ing for an event for Alexander McQueen, and she was there with, like, the host or something. I didn't know who she was, but someone said, "Oh yeah, she's the daughter of Robin Williams." I went up to her and was like, "Oh my god, I have to tell you your dad is like my dad." I was like crying. I felt so stupid telling her that, and then he died. It felt like losing my dad all over again because it was such a big dream of mine to meet him and tell him how much he means to me. It's almost like I did a transfer. Even Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting, he's just been such a positive figure in my life.

What's the most memorable show you've ever played?

S: It's funny, even on this last tour I said, "I'm never going to forget this night!" But you play so many! We play house shows a lot, I really love doing that. It's so expensive to tour that instead of taking days off we post online that we can play a house show. We played one in Philly in October. It was a huge loft — these guys have, like, a blog where they film artists coming to play in their house. It was amazing. One girl was like, "I drove seven hours to come see you! I wrote my thesis on you." She was crying.

What's your favorite song to cover?

There were two songs that I liked to play, but I don't anymore. They're very acoustic-y and now I just want to rock out onstage. I used to cover that song "Duncan" by Paul Simon and that song "Diabolo Menthe" by Yves Simon Cover. They're beautiful. I just don't want to condition myself to feel sorry for myself and like a victim or be sad and depressed. I want to feel better.

What's the first album you ever bought?

S: I have no idea! The first music I ever downloaded illegally was every single Beatles song.

Who is your dream duet?

S: Robert Smith.

Do you have a favorite word?

S: Leprechaun! I can't say it but it's my favorite word. It's great, I think they're cute.

L.A., Paris, or New York?

S: L.A.

What's your favorite emoji?

S: The ghost.

Twitter or Instagram?

S: Instagram.

What's your favorite quote?

S: You snooze, you lose.

Soko’s new album My Dreams Dictate My Reality is available now on iTunes.

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