Soulful Viennese homegirl, SOIA, just dropped an album full of delicious R&B gems. Of all the work she’s put out so far, this album is the finely measured and well thought-out amalgamation of all her diverse influences. Her fiery and eclectic energy comes through in a smooth and cultured way, allowing her deep insights on relatable yet other-worldly topics to blossom forward in colorfully calculated chaos.

Where Magnolia Grows is a poignant blend of rich melodies, driving beats and abstract thought gathered up with a warm neosoul sensibility, held effortlessly by SOIA’s unique vocals. The album flows seamlessly as a whole, while each track stands on its own with individual character and mood. From the calmly barreling opener, “Run With The Wolves”, to track two, the kick drum dream, “Vacant Paradise”, the entire album falls effortlessly in line like a sun-soaked Sunday block party with unseen treasures to be discovered along the way.

On the album, SOIA says: “Where Magnolia Grows is my ode to self-love, the quest for balance between spiritual protection and openness towards the outer world”. We spoke about her musical influences, how she feels about the release and her advice to fellow music peeps.

So how did you get into music? Has it always been one of your biggest passions?

I got into music pretty late – I don’t come from a musician family or anything like that, it was more of a coincidence! Music keeps me pretty busy these days, but now is the phase of promoting the album, not recording… I’m missing the booth already!

Who would you say are your biggest musical influences, past or present?

Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Otis Redding, Erykah Badu, Nai Palm, Lauryn Hill, Mariah Carey, TLC, to name a few.

Let’s talk about Where Magnolia Grows. Personally, I think it is crazy good and I can definitely feel the influences you mentioned in there! How did this project come together as a whole? Were there some struggles along the way, or was it more like smooth sailing?

While you’re in the process of making the album, you are in too deep. It’s like you’re obsessed with the details, so you can’t really see it as a whole. You listen to it so many times, all versions, all mixes, all masters, that you get tired of it. Now, after it’s finally out, I can appreciate it again, and lean back and say: we did well, I dig it!

How are you feeling about the album as a whole? Are you happy with how it turned out?

For me, it’s in the past, and I will surely criticize the next project when the time comes – for now, I’m super happy it’s released!

As I said, I can really feel the current influences in the neosoul scene as well as the added dimension of Jazz and R&B influences. Was this what you were going for overall, or did you have a different vision going into it?

My producer Mez has a jazz background, but he’s also deep into hip hop and we listened to artists like The Internet and Terrace Martin to get inspired. The whole approach was to make the album more accessible, more straight-forward compared to the last two albums in a way, but still keeping it classy. Personally, I am pretty much unfazed by trends or hype in music. Good music is timeless.

What do you hope people feel when they listen to your music? Or do you just sort of “do you” and disconnect from any type of outcome or message?

I think people always get the message out of a song that they choose to. I had a friend come up to me saying she loved the lyrics to a song, but had a totally different interpretation of it. I like that!

What is the writing process like for you? When do you feel most inspired?

Nature. Antagonism and psychology. But yeah, in this album, the lyrics are way more simple than usually!

What is your attitude towards the music industry right now? Are you seeing stuff happen that you like?

It’s an industry like everything else. It’s disillusioning the more you get into it.

What’s next for you then?

I’m on a short break going for walks and winding down to energize for live concerts and my next projects.

Nice! Any parting words of wisdom for women or girls in music, or just in general?

Keep away from other people’s drama – we all got enough of our own. 🙂 Don’t try to appease and please other people too much. It’s not your job to do emotional work for undeserving people. In general: woman up! <3

Thanks, SOIA!