Introducing you to Sophie and the Giants, an almighty, fun-loving, four-piece band based in Sheffield. Driven out of a turbulent time at school and a desire for belonging, when Sophie finally found her like-minded ‘Giants’ (a metaphor for how tall they feel when they’re together) she never looked back. And when meeting with SATG, what was crystal clear was the sense of comradery and love that they hold for one and other.
So what has come out of this band? Uplifting, self-assured and uncompromised music, where catchy instrumentals are layered with lyrics of substance. And they’re not afraid to show a more exposed side either, take ‘Runaway’, a tale of not always being able to cope with what life throws at us and how sometimes the best thing to do is, well, you guessed it, run away. This mixed with tunes like ‘Break the Silence’, which leaves its listener feeling empowered and ready to face whatever the day may bring. That’s right, Sophie and the Giants caters for all of your emotional needs.
We got the chance to really get to know a bit more about Sophie and her Giants, as we talk songwriting, stage freight, sandwich fillings and much more.
Maisie Daniels: Hey Sophie! You've been a songwriter from as young as the age of 8, is that right? Sophie: Yeah! So before I learned to play an instrument, I’d write poems. And then I’d sing a melody to it but it would always be acapella, as I didn’t know how to play anything yet. I’d always go and play to my parents; they really weren’t amazing [laughs]. It wasn’t until I got my first guitar around the age of 11/12 that I began to put more of a melody to it.
M.D: Did anyone in your family help spark this interest to write, sing and be musical? Or was it built within you? S: I think I was born like it because there’s no one else in my family who is musical. Apart from my Grandad, who used to sing in the choir. My brother tried to play the guitar for a bit, and my sister the drums but that fizzled out. Whereas from a baby, I just wanted to sing and write songs and I always had a fake microphone in my baby pictures, dressed as a princess.
M.D: That’s so sweet! When did you decide that you wanted to start a band? S: I always wanted to be in bands because I was a massive fan of Blondie, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Alanis Morissette. I always wrote stuff by myself but even through school, I was in duos and bands. However, I didn’t start Sophie and the Giants until I was at music college. I was really shy and had so much stage anxiety. It was literally impossible for me to sometimes get up but there was one day that I was playing in a lecture, and a guy who was in my class came up to me and said I should have a drummer to back up my songs. This was something I’d always wanted but I never had the confidence to ask someone to be a part of it. As soon as that happened, more people became involved.
M.D: So it progressed pretty naturally? S: Yeah, we went through different guitarists, drummers and bassists and everybody wanted to session for me. However, I wanted to have a band-band that was constant/ like family. Eventually, I managed to find Chris, who was like “I want to be in this and to be by your side for the rest of your career”. And then Toby joined a month before we moved to Sheffield. When I asked if he wanted to come, he chucked everything else and came! Then Antonia came around 6 months ago and she has also lived in Sheffield with us since the moment she joined. It all just fell into place and all of their hearts and souls were in.
M.D: And how come you chose to move to Sheffield from London? S: So that we could afford to not have to have full-time jobs and have time focusing on the band!
M.D: That makes sense. You all seem really tight and you can see how much fun you have together… S: We love each other so much, it’s a really special connection that we have as people, and musically.
Sophie wears shirt FRENCH CONNECTION; coat MAISON KITSUNE; trousers UNIQLO
M.D: And what would you say is the glue that holds you all together? S: All of our influences are very different and we all started off making quite different music. But I think it’s how we want to impact audiences with our music that glues us all. We have such a special bond as people and we want other people to feel like they’re safe and supported. It’s about empowerment. We’ve all been through hard times in our lives, and we all come from shy backgrounds and the strength we all have together, makes us feel like nobody can ever fuck with that.
M.D: Why the name 'The Giants?' S: It’s meant to be the way that the music makes you feel like you are so much bigger and more capable than you think you are. I always wanted to make something of myself but I always had so much self-doubt, which all stemmed from how I was treated at school. Being together, none of that shit matters and we feel so good together.
M.D: You're based in Sheffield, which has seen the likes of The Arctic Monkeys, The Human League and Pulp come out of it. Do you think there's a reason that so many legendary bands have been produced here? S: Yeah! I think there’s an aura about being in Sheffield but there is also so much space to breathe. You’re so far away from stuff that it helps you focus on what you are doing, rather than feeling like you’re being drowned, or consumed by all of the other thousands of musicians in other places. You feel like you’re the only band there. There are tonnes of bands -amazing bands- in Sheffield but you don’t feel any competitiveness. It’s a very music-driven, support system.
MD: What would you recommend me doing if I visited Sheffield for the day? S: You have to go to the Peak District. It’s so amazing for headspace and writers. Whenever the band feels like things are getting too intense, we drive out there and it clears your head. Sheffield is also notorious for its cool, unique old bars. There’re no clubs, just lovely bars! And Sheffield has so many hills, just walking across it you will see so much. There’s an abandoned ski village that we sometimes go and sit up the top of.
Toby wears shirt UNIQLO; trousers LOU DALTON
M.D: Is there a process that you go through when writing songs? And do you write with the other members of the band? S: It’s usually me but Toby and Antonia do some writing as well, they’re really strong writers. But it’s mainly driven by the songs that I write, and I spend a lot of time coming to London because there’re a lot of songwriters and producers that I love, and I work really well with. I’m really fond of collaborating because people can really test you.
M.D: Your head and your heart both come into play with your music, with a lot of honesty and empowerment that pours out to the listener. Is this something you have set out to achieve? S: I think that has naturally always been my way of songwriting. Even as a kid, having a hard time, I would always learn from negative situations by writing about it. And I would come up with my own conclusions whilst writing about it and that would become my therapy. I’d realise that ‘I can do so much better than this’ and that would form a chorus. And because this made me feel so good, and I wish that I had that growing up, I realised this is the kind of music I want to make.
M.D: In many cases with Pop music, you don’t get much in terms of lyrical substance but you really tackle that issue head-on. S: Yes, this used to bug me a lot! Like 3 years ago when we started making this kind of music, this is how we wanted to do it. There was so much fun, pop music around but I didn’t feel like I was connecting to any of it. And I wanted music that could help me, so I thought ‘Fuck it, I’ll do it myself’. I don’t have any boundaries because if me being truthful about something can help other people, then it’s worth it!
M.D: Do you have a lyric of your own that you relate to the most? S: The song we wrote, ‘Waste My Air’ because of all of the times I’ve felt like I’ve spent so much time on people who have turned around to make me feel like I’m not worth it. And it’s telling yourself that you are worth so much more than you believe. That’s what fully changed my mindset and I stopped bullying myself, and that’s why I love it so much.
LEFT: Antonia wears coat UNIQLO
RIGHT: Chris wears t-shirt (worn underneath) WEEKDAY; shirt WOODWOOD
M.D: What has the response been like to your latest track, ‘Runaway’? S: Really good! It’s been a funny one because it’s a more vulnerable track from us. It’s about admitting to being terrified of things and all you can do is run away from it. It’s not always the right thing, and we’ve made it light-hearted. The way other people have interacted with it is really funny. They will be like “This happened today, so I’m just going to run away!” [Laughs] It adds light-heartedness to some of the stupid stuff you run away from, just because you’re scared.
M.D: Let's do a quickfire round; tea or coffee? S: Tea, coffee makes me weird!
M.D: Favourite sandwich filling? S: Cheese Ploughman’s.
M.D: Last song you listened to? S: Love in Motion by Sebastian.
M.D: Weakness? S: Tequila!
M.D: Three celebs that you would have at your dinner party? S: Alanis Morisette, Debbie Harry & Prince.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Antonia wears shirt JAKKE; trousers and coat UNIQLO. Toby wears shirt UNIQLO; trousers LOU DALTON. Sophie wears shirt FRENCH CONNECTION; trousers UNIQLO; coat MAISON KITSUNI; rings ATELIER D'ORNEMENTS. Chris wears t-shirt WEEKDAY; shirt WOODWOOD; trousers DICKIES at URBAN OUTFITTERS
M.D: Nice choices, Debbie is at my dinner party too! Back to being serious, what were your biggest highlights of 2019? S: Festival season was mental for us! We played Reading and Leeds for the first time. The drummer and I actually went for the same time, 3 years in a row but we only knew each other for the last time we went. And before we knew each other, I remember us saying how we really wanted to play the festival one year, 3 years later we ended up playing it together. So that was pretty cool! Glastonbury was amazing, it was the first time I had ever been, let alone having the honour of playing on the stage.
M.D: You mentioned earlier that you suffered from stage freight. With playing such big festivals, did it come back at all? S: I don’t get it as bad nowadays. I used to get it really bad and genuinely had to try and make sure I wasn’t sick. I do still get nervous but it is more excitement nerves.
M.D: Any pre-show rituals? S: Before we go on stage we all put on a song and get pumped. And we all put our arms around each other and jump like we are blasting up into the universe!
MD: Cute! What do you guys have installed for 2020? S: There’s going to be a lot of shows coming up but first we are going to release a bunch of new music, which we have been working really hard on!
M.D: What can we expect from the new music? S: It’s a progression from what we have done before and a new and exciting vibe for us, being even more bad-ass!
M.D: And finally, what is your favourite F Word? S: Fuck-it!
Toby wears top DANIEL W. FLETCHER; sunglasses RETROSUPERFUTURE. Sophie wears jacket URBAN OUTFITTERS; sunglasses ACE&TATE
Antonia wears top and skirt SCOTCH&SODA; sunglasses KALEOS. Sophie wears shirt and rollneck FRENCH CONNECTION; skirt SCOTCH&SODA; sunglasses KOMONO
Toby wears top DANIEL W. FLETCHER; trousers LOU DALTON; sunglasses RETROSUPERFUTURE. Sophie wears jacket URBAN OUTFITTERS; bralet- ARTIST'S OWN; sunglasses ACE&TATE. Antonia wears t-shirt CARNE BOLLENTE; jacket STYLIST'S OWN; sunglasses ARTICLE ONE. Chris wears hoody URBAN OUTFITTERS; outdoor vest URBAN OUTFITTERS
Antonia wears t-shirt CARNE BOLLENTE; trousers URBAN OUTFITTERS; jacket STYLIST'S OWN; sunglasses ARTICLE ONE. Chris wears trouser WEEKDAY; hoody URBAN OUTFITTERS; outdoor vest URBAN OUTFITTERS
Toby wears top DANIEL W. FLETCHER; sunglasses RETROSUPERFUTURE. Sophie wears jacket URBAN OUTFITTERS
Chris wears hoodie CHAMPION at URBAN OUTFITTERS; trousers WEEKDAY.
Toby wears t-shirt (worn underneath) DANIEL W. FLETCHER; shirt JAEGER; trousers FRENCH CONNECTION; sunglasses KOMONO