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On the Rise
Sans Soucis

21 June 2024, 09:00

Italian-Congolese artist Sans Soucis’ experimental pop is as beautiful as the intersections from which it derives its power.

Sans Soucis is the moniker of Guilia Grispino, meaning “without worries”. As a very carefree and adventurous kid it was a nickname given to Grispino by their grandmother, with the rest of their family soon following suit.

“I really loved it and I embraced it,” Grispino – who uses they/she pronouns – tells me. “When it was time to pick my artist name, which is a daunting thing, I was like, wait a second! Actually Sans Soucis feels kind of right. It was one of those things where I felt like I didn’t want that to be just a moment in my life when I was a kid. I'd love to carry that kid with me when I do music, and be playful and ask questions, being a child and having a childlike spirit when I approach music.”

“For a long time, I was playing catch up with my nickname because it was a bit of a place where I wanted to get with in my personal life,” they explain. “But I’ve always embraced it in my career, and then for some reason, I guess it's because the first album cycle has come to an end in terms of the writing and producing, I feel very much aligned with it right now. I feel like I can be my adult self, but still tap into that child whenever I want, and switch between the two.”


A creative child who would spend most of their time afterschool with their friends making art, Grispino was always been singing and spending hours on YouTube searching for R&B music, despite having a background in classical music and singing opera. Things change when they joined a band towards the end of high school, performing at different small and local festivals, “I was a very insecure kid and I needed a lot of validation”, they tell me. “When I would perform, I would get that validation and I thought, maybe I'm good at something. I was such a diligent student and I loved to study music.”

Growing up in a small village near Modena in northern Italy, Grispino was predominantly raised by their paternal grandparents, who a large part of debut record Circumnavigating Georgia – due 9 October – is a tribute to. Grispino’s grandparents came from the south of Italy, migrating north around the 50s: “I would say I had a very multicultural family, because everyone in my family was an immigrant,” they tell me.

Sans Soucis White Man

Immigrant is a label that Grispino feels strongly connected to and makes up a large part of their identity, especially so when they moved to the UK as a young adult to make music at the London College of Contemporary Music. “The Italian music scene tends to be quite niche,” they say of the decision to move, “and there's quite a lot of nepotism going on, so it's not extremely easy to access.”

Starting college, Grispino was extremely aware of their intersection as a person, battling complex feelings of “am I trying to preach something, or am I trying to figure things out?” They didn't feel extremely well represented in the society they were living in and making music became a way to reclaim their identity within their own safety net. “I never quite considered this career as a possibility because up until I was 17, I couldn't really afford to move out of my country," they tell me.


“I think the beauty of London is that you can find any genre, any artist," adds Grispino. "Part of the culture of living in London is going to gigs pretty often: it could be a gig for a fiver by an artist who’s going to blow up in two years, or it could be your friend. Being so immersed in the culture, I feel like I’m getting educated every time I go to a gig. I love all the options because, as an artist, I never want to feel like I'm just doing one thing.”

Grispino’s adoration for the eclectic radiates in Circumnavigating Georgia – which they produced themselves with the help of friend and co-producer Joe Brown – brimming with sensitive and confident slow jams and brighter bops, spanning electronic, R&B, pop and folk. The album is a stance against the patriarchy and white supremacy that affected them for a long time, with, “the hope that it empowers people to destroy any fictional masks they still carry. It's about surviving tumultuous times, and I want other survivors to feel seen.”

“The whole concept of Circumnavigating Georgia comes from the last song of the album, which I like to define as the synopsis of the album,” they explain. “It’s a journey of discovery around a specific territory, and though circumnavigating is a colonial term, I've always been fascinated by it. The album is about deconstructing an identity that wasn’t mine, and exploring myself to find day zero, the true beginning. Georgia isn’t an island, so circumnavigating it feels a bit glitchy, indicating this journey is more metaphysical than physical.”

Grispino was also reading a lot of Audrey Lorde during the making of Sans Soucis' debut album, particularly her text on erotic and the passion in life, “navigating around someone’s waters had a sensual and erotic quality to me, which is a thread throughout the album. It’s about living moments in a visceral way, apart from the hypersexualization I experienced when I was younger.”

Sans Soucis White Man 3

One of the most special moments on the record comes in the form of the the brooding and soaring "Brave", featuring gender nonconforming American writer and performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon, “I wrote the song a few years ago, around the time I realized I was a non-binary person,” Grispino tells me. “I came across a video on YouTube where Alok was discussing degendering fashion, it was an awakening for me, [so] I decided to sample the speech on the song. When I decided to include it on the record, I wrote Alok a heartfelt letter explaining how they changed my life, and they replied and agreed to support the campaign. It’s the only feature on the album, and I’m really happy about that.”

Through the arduous growing pains of soul searching and self reflection, Sans Soucis has triumphed in their artistry of abundance and authenticity.

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