On the Record: Sophie Kilburn

Unrecorded sits down with Derbyshire-born, London-based artist Sophie Kilburn, following the release of her debut EP, My Room Made Public.

For our readers who may not have heard of Sophie Kilburn before, could you tell us a little bit about your sound and style? 

Yeh, of course, so I would say my sound is a mixture of old school rocker, Fleetwood Mac vibes, mixed with modern ALT-pop indie like HAIM and Phoebe Bridgers. For me, guitars are always the starting point, as I always write my songs on guitar so you will always find some catchy guitar riff or chord progression at the core. I would say I have a 70s flair to my music with some 90s/2000s elements for nostalgia (laughs).

How are you feeling now that your newest EP, My Room Made Public is finally out in the world?  

I am buzzing, to be honest, this EP has been a long time coming. I can’t believe it is finally out! There have been many setbacks and of course including the global pandemic. I have definitely been in the boat of my life being put on hold and struggling with that. It feels so great to give new music to people, particularly in these unstable times we are in. I am super proud of this body of work and feel this is a great introduction to what I am about from my sound to my songwriting.  

My Room Made Public is a project largely born out of frustration at various situations, what other emotions or events inspire your songwriting? 

Yeh the EP is scratching the surface of different aspects in our lives, not just romantic relationships but ambitions, mental health and social pressures. I will always be as emotionally honest as possible, whether I am writing from my personal experience or from someone I know/something I have read. Mental health and finding your voice are themes that are always there in my songs. I write songs to help understand why we feel what we feel and hope that causes a relatable ripple effect. With inspiration, it can come from anywhere from a tube sign to having a chat with my housemates, but I always start with a title and build from there.  

What advice would you give to other young artists experiencing similar stresses and a need to be listened to or acknowledged? 

I would say try not to get bogged down if you keep getting the advice ‘keep going’. When I would seek advice or ask questions at industry network events, I found people can only tell their own experiences. No one really knows what they are doing. The main thing is to keep reminding yourself why you love it, find the people who get it and connect with it, then really engage with them. Numbers are exactly that numbers but it is about building an audience of fans that will actually show up when you put a gig on. I would also say try to flip ‘the need to be listened to’ to ‘I have something to say’. Building a career in music is about consistency and pushing yourself creatively and surrounding yourself with people that don’t hold you back but encourage you. I totally feel the frustration of having to be a one-man band as an independent artist and we all have bad days but it’s taking the time for yourself, more than anything, to be clear why you want to do music and how you want it to affect people. Sorry that turned into a rant (laughs).  

Could you describe what this EP means to you in your own words? 

This EP is a milestone for me as an artist as it is chapter one of what I hope will be a timeless trilogy. My Room Made Public is about questioning why there is a pressure to share everything with the world all the time. If you don’t share, (particularly online) it makes you feel inadequate and out of touch with the world, but ironically you can be further away from reality the more you are on there. For a long time, I felt I was being told who I was, and there will be some eye rolls with this next comment, but a lot of that has to do with my gender. That is why I always stand for going for what you want and always having a fire in your belly.  

Would you ever collaborate with other artists, if so who would be your dream collaboration? 

Would I ever? Oh, the list is endless, to be honest! I would love to work with producers Rob Milton and Benjamin Leftwich that would be a dream. Also, to even just be in a room with Clare Dennis or PJ Harvey would make me fan girl for a year straight. I am always up for collaboration because that can really help you get better, not just as a writer but as a musician in general. But yeh if you have any of their numbers let me know (laughs). 

Do you have a favourite track on the EP? If so, which is it and why? 

I have to say my favourite track, production-wise is ‘Movements’ because it really highlights the modern and old school blend I was saying before. I think it just makes you feel good even though the subject matter isn’t all sunshine and roses. ‘Under the Heat’ is lyrically my favourite though because it has a deeper meaning to it and was born out of not being heard as woman. It’s all about society suppressing women not just clear misogyny that happens but also the unintentional inequality that we have all been conditioned to. I am not a man-hater at all, but as with anything, if you don’t experience it yourself how can you say you fully understand it? It’s through things like music that allow the expression of thoughts and feelings that is why it is everywhere. It opens up conversations and makes people open to change. 

What’s been one of the biggest highlights of your music career so far? 

I would say the biggest recent highlight has to be landing Track of the Week twice from BBC Introducing East Midlands. It may sound like nothing to some people but going back to my roots and getting support from my hometown is really important to me. It took me ages to get on the radar and to have BBC Introducing’s backing me is just so awesome.  

Lastly, what’s next from Sophie Kilburn?  

Well, I am currently recording more music and getting back into playing gigs again, as well as pushing the EP (available on Spotify, Apple Music and all the usual places [laughs]). I am just going to take it a song at a time and keep making, releasing and performing music. The main thing is to just get my music out there and meet people, in the flesh, not just over zoom.  

Listen to Sophie Kilburn – My Room Made Public


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