The Miami up-and-comer and the seasoned Chicago producer join forces on “Don’t,” an electronic ode to healthy boundaries packed with soaring synthesizers and groovy backbeats. With the release of their new EP, Lens, COLLiDE chatted with the pair about their “effortless” collaboration and finding new ways to innovate through the confines of quarantine.
How did you guys find each other? Did you know each other beforehand?
Daniel: We met in college, but never got around to making anything together. I saw a couple of Sofia’s performances on campus and always admired her voice, but for one reason or another our paths never really overlapped. Sofia moved to LA a month or two before I did, so when I got out here in September of 2019 I hit her up and asked if she was interested in collaborating.
What was the collaboration process like? How did you blend your different styles into something that was cohesive but still represented you both?
Calica: It was pretty effortless from the start. We never had any questions about direction, it felt like we were always on the same page about where a song needed to go. We come from really different musical backgrounds since I studied classical voice in school and Daniel studied contemporary production, but that’s part of why I think we work so well together.
Daniel: Whenever we felt like we were hitting a roadblock, I had Sofia close her eyes and improvise into the microphone. She’s such a natural musician that I knew whatever she sang would be something beautiful that we could use as a jumping off point. Most of these songs come from that process: stitching together Sofia’s improvised melodies to create the skeleton of a song.
“Don’t” is as much disco as it is new wave as it is electronic. It sounds like a bunch of different styles came into play on production, but were there any specific influences for it – genre, artist, or otherwise?
Calica: I was listening to a lot of Tame Impala at the time, and we both felt like our record needed to have at least one upbeat song on it. Daniel grew up listening to a lot of 80s music so I’m sure that’s where you hear those New Wave influences coming from. Really, we just wanted to have a song that, at its core, felt fun to sing, create, and listen to.
You’ve both been known to frequently collaborate with other artists. Any dream collaborations?
Calica: Kevin Parker, James Blake, and Lianne La Havas would be my top three. I’m such an admirer of the way all three of them are incredible songwriters as well as musicians and producers. They really know how to balance lyrical and musical elements in a recording.
Daniel: Since this is a dream, I would love to collaborate with Ian Curtis of Joy Division or Kanye West from 2008. I grew up listening to Joy Division, I think Ian and I would make some really weird stuff together. His lyricism absolutely wrecks me, and even though he wasn’t alive when it was released, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is one of my all time favorite tunes. As far as Kanye goes, whatever you think about him, I think 808s and Heartbreak is one of the most mind blowing pieces of music that’s ever been created. I would love to get to absorb that energy even for a moment.
Daniel, it looks like you have a thing for finding up-and-comers. What do you look for in an artist when you’re thinking about collaborations?
Daniel: Honestly, good singers are everywhere. It’s easy to say that what got me interested in Sofia was her voice, but I think the thing that really catches my ear when looking for new artists is their ability to do something different. Sofia has such a gift for melody, and she’s capable of delivering lines with both incredible intimacy and malice. That’s what really gets me, and that’s what I keep an ear out for. “What can this person do that I haven’t heard before?” Sofia is the perfect example of that, and that’s why people are drawn to her and her music. That’s why it’s resonated so well on TikTok – she’s incredibly accessible while still changing your perception of what it means to be a pop vocalist.
Calica, your indie remixes of popular songs on TikTok are legendary. What inspired that series, and can we look forward to more in the future?
Calica: Boredom is the mother of invention. Quarantine had me (like most musicians) struggling to find an outlet for something we usually find to be pretty natural. Once I discovered TikTok I noticed that there was a lack of female producers on the app and decided to fill that void. Their platform is so inspiring and has connected me to so many people. You can absolutely look forward to more of that in the future.
Speaking of the future, any upcoming projects either of you are excited about?
Calica: We’re both working on new music together, but I also have a new song coming out in February. I’m always working on new music, and plan to be putting out plenty in 2021.
Daniel: I’ve got quite a few things lined up this year. The most immediate after this current release is an album that I’ve been working on for quite some time – I wrote, produced, performed, and mixed it myself and could not be more excited to put it out in the world. That will most likely start happening this spring, around March.
Thanks for chatting with us! Is there anything you’d like to add?
Calica: We’d love for everyone planning to check out our EP to put some headphones on and listen all the way through. We love how these songs flow into each other, and really think that it elevates the experience. Can’t wait for you all to hear it!