Soulé chats to Shane Cullen about her Choice Music Prize nomination, touring, and choosing the right EP.
A lot can happen in a year, especially when it comes to the music world. This has certainly been the case for Dublin-based R&B/electro artist, Soulé. Having celebrated one year since the release of her debut single in late August, Soulé reflects on the past 12 months: “It’s been cool, quite a journey, and to say a year… that’s a big, big deal for me!” She gushes, “The support I have received from the Irish music industry, Irish bloggers, and Irish radio shows has been amazing.” With over one million streams of her single ‘Troublemaker’ on Spotify alone, Soulé is talking and we’re listening.
Not many artists can say that their first ever studio recording managed to be nominated for an Irish Song of the Year Award. Her debut single ‘Love No More,’ a heartfelt ballad with electro-dance production, saw Soulé accomplish this feat, and she made the 2016 RTÉ Choice Music Prize shortlist, alongside a line-up of well-established artists. “I was shocked!,” Soulé recalls, “[some of the other] artists that were nominated were Niall Horan, James Vincent McMorrow, Hare Squead, and Saint Sister. They’re amazing and so talented and to be amongst them was an honour.” Being a nominee alongside acts signed to music label giants such as Sony and Universal was far from intimidating for Soulé; instead it was welcomed as a confidence boost to continue making music.
The conversation turns to the process behind that debut track. On paper, ‘Love No More’ comes across as an emotional ballad, with lyrics such as “You’re living happy while I cry myself to sleep” in the chorus. Listening to the track is a surprise as it presents a perfectly executed combination of drum and bass and electro beats, that transports the listener back to Marina and the Diamonds’ ‘Lonely Hearts Club,’ from the Electra Heart era.
Soulé reveals that ‘Love No More’ was written on her keyboard at home and that she hadn’t originally intended it to be an electro fusion dance track: “When I went to record it in the studio, my producer was like ‘let’s try something really dope, have the lyrics super emotional and sad but the track could be something to dance to’ and that’s how it came about.” ‘Love No More’ was a bold debut, but one year on, it has stood the test of time.
“This is my first London show, I’m excited for it.”
To go from support act to headliner in one year is an achievement in itself. Soulé bagged one of her first ever gigs in September last year when she played support for R&B/hip-hop trio Hare Squead at the Button Factory. “I remember the lads reaching out to me about opening and I was like ‘whoa, this is so dope!’ Hare Squead are such talented guys and the fact that they wanted me to open for them!” she shares. She’s hopeful for her career to follow in the successful trio’s footsteps.
This month Soulé embarks on her own “mini tour,” titled the Cloud 23 Tour, where she headlines the Button Factory along with dates in Cork, Drogheda, and London. Opportunity beckons: “This is my first London show, I’m excited for it. It’s gonna be my first time playing there,” Soulé says happily. The Cloud 23 Tour follows the success of playing at Electric Picnic, where she performed on all three days.
“I need some time away to write the right songs and pick the right songs”
Today artists are under great pressure as they face a constant demand for new music, prompted by streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and other platforms. Despite this, Soulé is content with taking things slowly before jumping into EP or album territory. She is happy just to release singles for now: “I feel like releasing an EP, an album, or a mixtape is a project. I need some time away to write the right songs and pick the right songs to go into the EP, and make it a good package for those who support my music”.
On 20 October, the video was released for her latest single ‘What Do You Know,’ which is a sequel to ‘Troublemaker.’ She discusses the meaning behind the new track: “It’s a message of ‘what do you know about me? I don’t need you, I’m enjoying my life, partying with my friends and having a good time.’” The aim for the ‘What Do You Know’ video was to promote female confidence, reminiscent of Soulé’s musical influences, the Spice Girls, TLC and Janet Jackson. These musicians are her inspirations: “I definitely aspire to be like the artists that I grew up listening to.”
With the likes of Soulé, Hare Squead, and Rusangano Family gaining recognition, Irish hip-hop and R&B has never looked so promising.
Soulé headlines the Button Factory on 15 November.