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Radio Macabre: Alternative Musician SOFIA ISELLA On Crafting Dark Pop From The Horrors Of Society

Friday, September 1, 2023 | Interviews, Music, Radio Macabre


At only 18 years old, SOFIA ISELLA is already one of her generation’s foremost social critics within the music industry. Her stark, unsettling, dynamic music combines elements of industrial electronic with Sofia’s rich vocals and her experience as a classically trained musician to create an immersive world of her own creation. Influenced by her own observations of the world – as well as her love for dark, sometimes horrific, imagery – Sofia’s lyrics critique sexism, internet addiction, and imagine a future that belongs to the people who have traditionally been excluded from historical narratives. In between festival appearances, Sofia took some time to chat with us here at Rue Morgue about her artistry, her love of the horror genre, and her upcoming single “Everybody Supports Women,” out today.

Hello Sofia! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with Rue Morgue. To begin, I’d like to give you an opportunity to describe your art to our readers; How would you pitch your music to a new listener?

Howdy. Thanks for having me. Industrial, political, opinionated, very lyrically oriented. Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood, Nine Inch Nails, Saya Gray, Beck, Imogen Heap, these are the gods I pray to. And I’m a slut for words. Oh my GOD words. Poetry. All that jazz.

In so many ways, your music explores the horrors of our modern society (“Us and Pigs” is a great example). How do you go about your songwriting process?

Different every time. I chuck some stuff around. Rip the walls off. Shatter the windows. Claw my face off. Usual stuff, I won’t bore you with the details. I like my words, usually, I love starting with them and building the rest of that or starting with production and top lining. But even when I do that, I can also pull words I previously wrote and insert them in. “Us and Pigs” started that way for instance. I was bored free writing by a poolside and out of nowhere I started a new paragraph and wrote the concept for the second verse “pump us full of sperm, put us in a barn, us and pigs on a Mississippi farm,” I reread it, scared myself, and put the phone down. Later on, I was at the piano and I pulled the words from that free write and inserted it into the little waltz I was playing on the piano.


I hear you are also a horror lover! Tell me a bit about your favorite horror movies, especially those that have influenced your art.

I’m very much a horror fan. The people reading this probably know much more than me though. Oh my god, recently I watched Se7en which was the most brutal mind-blending shit I’ve ever seen in my life. Not mind-bending, mind-blending. My brain was a fuckin smoothie. THE ENDING. My jaw. My jaw was in hell. SUCH A GENIUS concept and execution. My favorites though are Get Out (I was obsessed with that soundtrack for such a long time), Midsommer, Us, The Invisible Man, etc. I like good simple concepts done well. And Ready or Not is just a comfort movie. I loved the blend of comedy without losing all the fear factor. Beau is Afraid is new, but I’ve never seen a movie like it and I’m wildly obsessed with it, instantly a new favorite. Beau is Afraid majorly inspired me. UGH it was so good. I also watched It but as soon as I realized the clown talked, and not only talked but sounded goddamn silly, it was too funny to me and I couldn’t take it seriously. I can never take scary clowns seriously, they just look ridiculous.

SE7EN (1995) dir. David Fincher


How would you frame your upcoming single, “Everybody Supports Women,” to our readers?  

If you’re a woman, and you’ve had even a flicker of success in any aspect or part of your life – and it doesn’t have to be on a major global scale, I mean it could be you were the Most Popular Fucking 5th Grader – you’ll know exactly what the song is talking about. I was once at this concert and the artist was introducing a song they wrote about this GIRL. And this GIRL, they said, was NICE. And SMART AND FUNNY AND TALENTED AND PRETTY. And then they do a dramatic pause AND. SHE does CHARITYYYYYY. And the entire crowd just groaned and screamed. Obviously, the artist was not saying this without seeing the irony, but I thought it was a real and true analysis of how people deal with other people having lives that seem better than our own. I wrote it that night in the dark as soon as I was back from the show.

As a fellow member of Gen Z, I was deeply struck by the accuracy of your lyrics in “All of Human Knowledge Made Us Dumb,” which unpacks the horrific reality of living in such a high-tech world. How did you manage to capture all that within a single song?

If the internet was alcohol, I’d be a raging goddamn alcoholic. I’m chugging the internet like beer. I’m so addicted to social media and I’m trying to save myself. I lose creativity and my thoughts if I scroll too much and I’m trying to get my mind back. That song was written after reading Stolen Focus by Johann Hari. I’ve written about the topics of social media, the internet, fame culture, etc. so much but there’s still so much to talk about and so many aspects to go at it from.


I know that in addition to being an incredibly talented singer/songwriter, you are also a classically trained violinist and producer. How has your musical background informed your approach to creating dark/alternative pop?

To a certain degree, I’ve had to fight against my classical training. The technique and career of classical music is so intense and if you go down that route, it’s a bit more constrained than I ever naturally was. I was brought up in a conservatory-type institution, where luckily I had a supportive family and main teacher who would help me fight it, but I was always getting in trouble if I moved too much during a performance, or if I wore black pants instead of a black skirt. You know the vibe. But violin is incorporated in EVERYTHING I do musically, from recordings to live shows. Even having to fight certain aspects, I’m still really grateful to have the background in the classical world and it gave me a lot, I’m sure it influences me more than I’m even aware of.

I couldn’t help but notice the unsettling horror imagery that accompanies your music. Are you the creator of those visuals?

On the content side of things of socials, yes that’s all my creation. I don’t think I mean to make it horror imagery, but the stuff I like to look at just naturally comes out very unsettling. I’m accidentally unsettling, I’ve realized. Even though I have a deep underlying hatred for the internet in general, I really do honestly enjoy making the content itself. As soon as I have an idea, concept, whatever, the creation of it is relaxing to me. Meditative, easy flow. Music videos are done usually by me and my dad. I pitch him an idea, and we figure out how to do it. He’s a genius.

Cover art for SOFIA ISELLA’s latest single “Hot Gum”

Finally, what does the future look like for SOFIA ISELLA? Anything exciting to tease?

OHHHOHO I’m an excited duck. One excited duck. There’s a certain song that I’m going to be doing after “Everybody Supports Women,” something something and something soon. Something something exciting. Things are getting lined up, getting ready to shoot. Also heading back home to LA soon, currently in the UK doing festivals.

Thank you again for sharing your art and insight with Rue Morgue! We wish you the absolute best in your career!

Thanks for having me, Grace.


SOFIA ISELLA’s new single “Everybody Supports Women” is available to stream and purchase as of today, September 1. 


Grace Detwiler
Grace Detwiler (@finalgirlgrace) is a freelance film journalist and law student. Her original work can be found on her blog, FinalGirlGrace, as well as in Rue Morgue's print and online publications.