This article was originally published in Kafkadesk, an English-speaking news platform concerned with the V4 countries. Make sure to check it out and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Sophie M debuts with mother tongue

Did you know that this song ain’t written in Hungarian?, pose the members of the Hungarian Sophie M the question in their debut track mother tongue. I chat to the emerging talents of Budapest – we talk inspirations, plans and hypocrisies.

While the duo has been making music separately for a while, it has been only half a year ago that they have decided to commit to a long-term common project. This is how Sophie M has come about –  a formation that is all about experimenting with new sounds and interesting lyrics without the need to take themselves too seriously. 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. 

When it comes to inspirations, both members name Frank Ocean, James Blake, Al Green, Noname and The Internet as their primary influences. Yet the originality of the 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. 

The lyrics of mother tongue, although “ain’t written in Hungarian”, is 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”

When I ask what their message is with these lines, Sophie M says that it isn’t purely criticism 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 the 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. 

Regarding their future plans, it is looking like a busy year in the life of Sophie M. Currently, they are composing the electronic soundtracks for a  Budapest-based contemporary dance-theatre 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!