Manchester-born crew SOFIAHH open up about a few major transitions and their ambitious plans for the future.
Rising from the ashes of politically charged post-punk group Hartheim is a new ensemble focused on the future. Sonically there are obvious similarites - gravelly vocals that flit between Interpol and Ian Curtis, tar-drenched layers of electronica and post-rock - but there's a massive psychological shift as SOFIAHH take steps into their brave new world.
"The Knots" is their first foray into that world. It's got two eyes firmly trained on The Big Picture, with crashing waves of percussion and serpentine strands of guitar merging for a track that hurtles towards oblivion. Check it out below and get to know SOFIAHH a bit better with our Q&A after.
BEST FIT: People might recognise you from a different group, Hartheim - what's the difference between the two?
SOFIAHH: Physically, it's a different group of people. We were well on our way with Hartheim, just starting to realise what we wanted the music to be and how we could move onto the next stage. Things had just started to get real, and then very suddenly it all fell apart. It was a Tuesday night, and we were at the bunker, a place where we'd always practiced and recorded. One of us - uncharacteristically - didn't arrive on time, and we messed about and talked up the different scenarios in which he hadn't got there yet. You're talking the absolute back end of Salford here, there's a million holes you could fall into. Without going into too much detail, we soon found out that things were much more serious, and that our guitarist had passed away.
He was a huge part of what we were doing, in music, design, and ambition, so it was a blow that we'd never really come back from. We tried 1000 times to finish the album we'd started, going through about 20 musicians in the process. We'd start, build some momentum, then just lose it again completely. I think the real problem was that we didn't know what we were trying to do. We were trying to capture something that didn't exist anymore, and in some ways, that meant memorialising the band. He'd have hated for it to become a historic thing, focused purely on the past. We did too. At the same time, we didn't want to move so far away that it felt like we'd just swept everything under the rug. And then we had all this music that was stuck in the middle of it all.
SOFIAHH is the first time that everything felt right. We found a place that felt not only progressive, but respectful to the situation too. A name change felt natural. By changing it but keeping the 'HH', we could rejuvenate the band and give a nod to what had gone before.
Can you explain a bit about what you do?
SOFIAHH: From the start we've just wanted to make great pop songs, but everyone's always been too fucked up for that. Even moreso now. We tried to marry beautiful moments with dark ones, so I guess you get this broth of slightly melancholic, semi sinister landscapes, set upon something industrial and brooding. It's more night than day.
What drives you as a band?
SOFIAHH: We just want to create things and release them, but now more than ever. I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel like there was unfinished business. The fact that we were all together in our practice room when we were told about [the passing of member Gav Devreede]... that felt like we had to carry on.
Can you tell us a bit about "The Knots"? How did it come together?
SOFIAHH: "The Knots" was kind of the moment where we felt like we'd arrived at something better, and something that could serve as an introduction to the new project. It's about all the things you don't see coming from a close bereavement, and the way it flows into aspects of your life that don't even seem linked. Relationships that were there before got all fucked up, relationships that weren't soon started after, then got fucked up too. It's not the immediate feelings of grief, it's that endless fallout that just keeps coming in waves from all different directions.
What can people look forward to from SOFIAHH?
SOFIAHH: We're ready to go now; we'll be playing shows and writing and releasing and trying to claw our way back into everything. It's a weird one, but one thing that has come out of this is that we're not really restricted to a lineup. We've been through so many different iterations, and whilst this is the one in which we've felt best, I think that's more to do with a realisation than a lineup. There are mini-projects shooting off in different directions, between current members and new ones too, but they all form around the same idea. We like the idea of continually releasing as SOFIAHH, be it new music, solo projects, art exhibitions or installations. This isn't going to be a five-piece from Manchester for very long, and that's pretty exciting for us.