Home Grown: Maija Sofia
I’ve heard that you’re fascinated with white magic and the occult. What got you interested? Have you had any supernatural experiences?
I’ve had a lot of weird coincidences, maybe not supernatural. I’m really into tarot card readings, sometimes those are scarily accurate. I moved to London because of a tarot card reading actually. I’ve always been interested in witchcraft and ghosts and the supernatural and that kind of thing. When I was about seven I found one of my mum or dad’s books on tarot and it really interested me. I’ve always just instinctively been drawn towards dark things, I was a kind of gothy kid and it creeped my mum out a bit!
That fascination with darkness definitely comes across in your music too, how do keep things from getting too dark?
I’m probably one of the most optimistic people I know, I’m actually not that dark or depressed or anything. I think I just channel any dark thoughts or sadness into the music so I don’t have to deal with it in everyday life, I sort of let that weirdness escape into the music so I can create a sort of sanctuary. Like everyone I can feel a bit anxious or depressed, so songwriting is a cathartic process for me to release it before it overwhelms me. I can sort of take it out of my brain and put it somewhere else.
Society often mistaking equates vulnerability and frailty with weakness. Do you struggle against misconceptions like that?
For women in the music industry, like women in any industry, you’re definitely pigeon-holed into a very one-dimensional idea of what it is to be a woman instead of being accepted as multi-faceted. There’s also a pressure to fit into some male expression of femininity, it can be difficult to express yourself without feeling you’re playing into that somehow. There’s this idea in society that frailty is an inherently feminine trait and something to be ashamed of. I think I’m quite an over-sensitive person, and that definitely comes across in the songs I write, but that doesn’t mean that I amn’t strong too – it takes strength to get up and perform in front of people! These things aren’t mutually exclusive, I think they actually complement each other. I’m probably one of the most shy people I know, but I can also regularly subject myself to standing on stage in front of strangers and singing these really deeply personal things about my insecurities.
There’s a lot about constellations and harvests in your music. How did you become interested in paganism?
I don’t identify as pagan, it’s sort an extension of my interest in the natural and the supernatural. I’m really interested in nature, herbalism, astrology and aroma therapy, so anything that combines those things is pretty fascinating to me. I love a lot of wild flowers that grow in meadows, like meadow’s feet, that’s one of my favourites. Trees in general are an obsession of mine and blue bells too. Any sort of woodland flowers are gorgeous. I’d pretty much be in my element just running around a forest or meadow.
You’ve said before that you have a synesthetic mind. What does your music produce for you?
A lot of my songs are quite minor, and for me minor keys are sort of greys and lilacs and light blue colours. But I don’t really think about it in any sort of structured way, it’s pretty lucid. When I was younger it was more structured, and I’d see specific colours on my timetable for different classes.
How has the change of landscape from Connemara countryside to London city effected your music, if at all?
Yeah it has, when I lived in Galway I always fantasised about escaping to the city, and now that I live in London, although I’m definitely a city person, there’s a sort of yearning for nature and big open spaces and my lyrics are getting even more nature-based.. There’s something in me that really craves being right in the middle of a big busy city, but also the seclusion of somewhere like the Aran Islands. There’s no in-between, I’d kind of like to be really secluded from everything or right in the middle of everything! Living in the countryside in Connemara, I always thought I hated it, but now since I’ve been living in London I get a sort of weekly longing to go to Hampstead Heath and wander around. In the summer I went swimming in this outdoor pond with cute little ducks in it and wrote the lyrics to my new song when I was just floating around in. It was really strange feeling so secluded when I was a five minute walk away from Camden High street! It reminded me about playing in the Grow Dome, which was really lovely. It was also such an unexpected haven of nature in Rialto. It felt gorgeous to play while surrounded by sunflowers.
How do you plan on celebrating Samhain this year?
I usually do my own sort of ritual-type things, but this year I think I’m coinciding it with the release of my new song! I’m releasing it as a sort of zine with illustrations like tarot card drawings, which will be really fun. So far the EP is six songs, and I hope to release them in November.
Maija’s new EP The Sugar Sea comes out 11th November
Words: Cara Spelman
Video: Simon Fitzpatrick