Pain equals gain for Sophia Danai in her new single, “Come Thru” — whose video is premiering exclusively below — and on her upcoming debut EP, Real Lies.
The song, as well as others on the EP, take some inspiration from the Canadian singer-songwriter’s failed marriage and its aftermath. The video, in fact, chronicles the demise of a relationship from sweetness to violence and even shows Danai breaking and burning the actual guitar she had on her honeymoon. “I have a lot of love for that guitar,” Danai tells Billboard. “I bought it during the honeymoon from hell. I did totally write a lot of songs on that guitar and that guitar was very good to me, so I was like, ‘Do I really want to break it?’
“But it was also a symbol for me. That song is a release; It’s a reckoning for myself. I thought if I was going to break a guitar (in the video) it shouldn’t just be a random guitar from a thrift shop. It should mean something. That’s what art is about.”
Danai digs deep on “Come Thru” and throughout the rest of Real Lies, which comes out June 29. Recorded with producer Ryan Worsley and Danai’s band in Port Coquitlam, B.C., the set is brimming with introspection and confession, a kind of musical stock-taking that’s in line with Danai heroes such as Feist, Sade, Sia and Alanis Morissette — “women who have just spoken their truth and aren’t afraid to be how they are and put it out there,” she explains.
“I feel like I had to get to a point where I was OK with the mistakes I’ve made,” Danai says, “and come to a place where I was truly thankful for them and grateful for the lessons I have learned and not be ashamed of them. I feel like I was ready to share them with other people and connect with other people through them. What they taught me was compassion — for myself and being able to understand a bit of what other people are walking through. You really get to know yourself through those challenges. You get to know where your values are, where your boundaries are, where the line in the sand is. This is me, flaws and all, and it’s really liberating.”
Though Danai starts all her songs on acoustic guitar, Real Lies sports a more electronic-based sound than she’s attempted in the past. She credits Worsley, as well as keyboardist Jan Orsag and guitarist Michael Meroniuk, with helping her blend that direction with her melodic sensibilities and helping Danai “reboot” her vision. “I feel like this record is definitely a new direction for me,” she says. “I think I got myself to a certain point before I made this record where I went really into myself and just focused on my craft and focused on my production skills and on my voice a lot. I discovered a whole new level of how I could express my story and really discovered that the more tools you have, the better that will be. I really found my power in that, and it was such a lesson for me — like, the more you hone your craft, you will attract the right people.”
Danai will try to attract more ears for Real Lies during May, when she appears at Canadian Music Week in Toronto. Other plans are being put in motion now, though Danai, who’s managing herself, is taking her time setting things up. “I’m doing this independently right now,” she says. “I have a little team that I’m working with, and right now I’m taking it one step at a time, focusing on the release and making sure that everything gets out well. I’ve been waiting a long time for this, so I want to give it the very best shot I can.”