Last fall SOHN arrived, as if delivered by some stork of electro-soul, remarkably developed and seemingly out of nowhere. The Vienna-based producer/singer/songwriter isn't much interested in origin stories -- his birth name and age are, for the moment at least, closely kept secrets -- instead preferring to direct any and all attention to his music, the emotional urgency and hypnotic tenor of which resonate despite, or perhaps in part because of, a relative lack of context.
Whatever the nature of his previous lives, the first songs by SOHN, "Oscillate" and "Warnings," received a rapturous reception in the electronic music press as the first releases of the rising London label Aesop in September 2012. The outline sketched by those songs— spare and undulating synths and percussion offset by cutting, vulnerable falsetto— was filled out this year by breakthrough tracks "The Wheel" and "Bloodflows," the latter of which sent Soundcloud surfers into a frenzy thanks to a killer crescendo of synths and chopped vocals.
"It's about a memory of heartbreak and letting music trigger that in you," SOHN says of the song. "It's sort of masochistic music listening -- choosing to go into the darkness because you want to remember everything, even the bad stuff."
Still-smoldering heartbreaks notwithstanding, SOHN's 2013 seems to have brought more good stuff than bad. He signed to the venerable indie label 4AD in the spring and is hard at work on a full-length debut album due in early 2014. In the interim, he's written and produced for buzzworthy neo-R&B crooners Banks and Kwabs, plus a couple of global pop stars whom he politely declines to reveal in print. Soon enough, though, all will be revealed.
"I've been going through it and there's something there," SOHN says of his debut, the day after a sold-out New York show in November. "I feel very, very good about it and I think it will be maybe quite surprising."
Above, watch our interview with SOHN, in which he talks about why he used to be embarrassed by his voice, the inspiration behind latest single "Lessons" -- and separating himself from other people, and even food, while writing his album.