Soulful Fox / Hypnotize
The mid-to-late 1980s was a time when soul music and progressive rock started merging into a form that resulted in the likes of Sade, Enya, Lenny Kravitz, Peter Gabriel and Yes. This was driven by the ability to record and produce in different ways. The big multitrack tape machines were under threat from new computing power, and newly developed instruments like the Fairlight CMI, and Emulator series of samplers plus the much loved mainstay of sample based music, the Akai S900 were becoming more affordable and usable than ever. Producers like Trevor Horn (Yes, Seal and Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and Daniel Lanois (Peter Gabriel, U2) were pioneers of the new styles of production. These changes in production techniques could be seen as the emergence of electronic music such as trip-hop and trance. Having worked throughout this time as an audio engineer I remember it as a slow change, but as we heard new sounds and manipulation of components like vocals, we wanted to try these techniques out as they pushed the envelope of what we knew about recording. Hearing the latest offering from the UK's "Soulful Fox" transported me back to my first experiences of artists like Enya, Sade and Peter Gabriel and more recently Groove Armada. It certainly gives me the same excitement and WOW factor of albums like Yes - 90125.
So, who or what is a "Soulful Fox"?
"Soulful Fox" is the solo project of Sophy Haes from Liverpool in the United Kingdom. Her soft and smooth sounds, are ethereal, chill, and ambient all rolled into one. In one word (capitals) - L U S H. The whole experience is like being wrapped in a warm tapestry one thread at a time.
So I was lucky enough to have a chat to Sophy, so here it is.
Hi Sophy, thanks for chatting with me.
Firstly I notice you are from the UK, am i right in thinking you are in Liverpool? And you worked as a music teacher before becoming a producer. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Yes that’s right! I taught Music for about 10 years including at a Sixth Form College in Southport for 4 years and then in Reigate but I left my job to pursue my love for music, moved back up North and haven’t looked back since!
The UK has a rich history of soulful electronica music, from the likes of Groove Armada, Peter Gabriel, Aphex Twin, Massive Attack and so many more. Do you think this exposure over the years has shaped your sound.
Definitely! My absolute fave within this genre is Lemon Jelly - they use really cool vocal samples along with beautiful melodic riffs and have a sense of structure and movement within their pieces - I think this definitely has inspired my sound. I love a bit of industrial dance too like Nine Inch Nails - watch this space for a release in this sort of style too!
So what initially sparked the drive to delve into production. Have you always been into technology, or recording, synthesis, or was it more of a means to an end for your musical ambitions.
I was lucky enough to get part-funded by my college to go on an electronic music production course back in 2012, so I could help my students more with their compositions - this is really where my love for all things tech started!
Speaking of musical ambitions; you mentioned you had worked as a music teacher. Were you classically trained, did you fall into it, or how did this come about.
Yes I did a Music Degree at Southampton University, where I got an Upper Second Class Honours. I have a Performance Certificate in piano and Grade 8 on the clarinet and was in tonnes of choirs and orchestras - so yes definitely classically trained!
Tell me a little bit about your production process. Your material is highly polished and weaves a delicate but rich tapestry of sounds and emotions. There are some serious vocal sample manipulations going on here, do you have any “go-to” toolsets that you employ, and what makes up your studio
Well that’s very nice of you to say. OK well I love to chop up vocals - I simply use the scissors tool and Flex tool to stretch vocals to fit the speed of my tracks - I also use Echo and Reverb a lot and I recently have been loving to add harmonies so I just use the Transpose tool so that I can add an idea a third above the original - it usually gives a textured sound to the vocals too which I really like. My studio comprises of Logic Pro X software, Apple MacBook Pro, my monitors are Mackie MR6 MK3 and the microphone is SE Electronics sE2200a and I use a Scarlett Focusrite 2i2 interface.
Your latest release is an EP, do you have plans to work on something full length soon, and what else do you have on the horizon.
I don’t really know - I write in quite a few varied styles so EPs are the way forward for me at the moment as a lot of my music wouldn’t sit together terribly well at the moment - maybe in time I’ll do a compilation album once I have enough material so I can put together all the similar styles but for now, loving the EP format! Next I’m planning to release a liquid drum and bass EP and then do some more industrial electronica a la NIN!
Finally, the most important question of this interview. Pizza! Pineapple or Anchovies
ANCHOVIES every time! Blurgh to pineapple on pizza!
Thanks for your time, Sophy, I hope your latest release goes fantastically for you. I have included all the links to listen, stream or purchase your music. Is there anything else you would like to add, any shoutouts, etc?
I think a shout-out has to go to the amazing community I am a part of on Facebook as they have helped hugely in me getting my music out there and building my presence on Spotify. It’s the Monster Thread Community and the people who run and manage this page are the best I’ve ever seen on Facebook - so I couldn’t not mention them!