The year 2017 was definitely The Year for SOHN, the Vienna-located electronic music producer, since his new album titled Rennen ensured his singer-songwriter position on the international rank of A-cathegory performers. On this night with the support of the Austrian Cultural Forum SOHN will give his first ever show in Hungary at the A38 Ship, this one of the most actual trubadours of our time always wearing a black hat. This is the new date of the gig announced for November 8th, all tickets bought for that date are valid for this night.
Rennen. It's a German verb that translates in English to "run," and as soon as SOHN begins to describe his journey over the last two years,
it becomes obvious why it's also the title of his stunning new album for 4AD.
"I was running nonstop that whole time," he reflects. "It was this incredible blur of seeing the whole world all in one go. I was going from
experience to experience to experience always saying yes, and that's just an incredible thing to put yourself through as a human."
It's also an exhausting thing to put yourself through, both physically and emotionally, and when it came time to record Rennen, SOHN knew
he'd have to slow down. Critics and fans alike were eagerly anticipating the album in the wake of his acclaimed 2014 debut, Tremors. That
record, called "spellbinding," by The Sunday Times, launched him from behind-the-scenes producer to international star, with Uncut hailing
the London-born artist's "pristine techno-soul," Q praising his music as "spine-tingling," and the New York Times raving that "his tenor
rises to androgynous high notes that are lonely fragility incarnate." Songs from the album racked up more than 60 million streams on
Spotify and earned SOHN major festival performances from Field Day to iTunes. He toured relentlessly, circling the globe three times in two
years with a live show that blended electronics and instruments into a hypnotic mix described by The Line Of Best Fit as "near-flawless."
It was thrilling, to say the least, but not at all conducive to writing, and so when it all ended, SOHN — who had relocated to LA from Vienna
— retreated to an isolated house in northern California where he could finally catch his breath.
"I went up there for a month on my own with basically every piece of equipment I had," says SOHN. "I set up in a little part of the house
and had a month of solitude to write these songs."
The first two weeks proved to be fruitless, but suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped, the floodgates opened and the music began to
pour out. SOHN would work primarily at night, recording until 6am most days as he chased down his visions and captured them fresh and
"After all that touring, I didn’t know if I had any more songs left in me," he confesses. "You've got to re-find that hunger again."
The answer, he discovered, was to dig deep within himself. SOHN made a conscious decision to cast off any self-doubt holding him back
and push the boundaries of what was possible with his music on Rennen. Nothing was off limits, and the newfound freedom resulted in
his most adventurous, engrossing music yet. Album opener ‘Hard Liquor’ is a perfect showcase, as SOHN explores a darkly sultry side to
his glitchy R&B that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable for him.
"Originally that song was going to go to another artist," explains SOHN, who's co-written tracks for artists like Rihanna and created remixes
for everyone from Disclosure to The Weeknd. "I always had in the back of my head that it was way too bold or too confident for me to sing
myself, but I realized if it’s a great song and I'd love to sing it, then I should just sing it. Once I did, it became this really important texture,
something vital to the entire aesthetic of the record. The only way I was ever going to write a song like that was if I didn’t realise I was
writing it for myself."
With his newly empowered attitude, SOHN crafted a gutsy, gritty collection for the ages. On the off-kilter ‘Dead Wrong’, he sings about
trusting your instincts and ignoring the consequences, while ‘Primary’, inspired by the beginning of the US presidential campaign, explores
man's tendency to underestimate our capacity for self-inflicted damage, and ‘Conrad’ draws on the ominous political climate in Europe, as
SOHN makes use of a variety of empty bottles, kitchen utensils, and the house itself for percussion.
Throughout the album, SOHN also deals with the monumental changes that rocked his personal life over the last two years, from falling in
love, to getting married, to learning that he will become a father. He returns to imagery of a ship on rough seas seeking safe port on tracks
like ‘Signal’ and ‘Harbour’, encourages himself (to little avail) to stay grounded as he flips head-over-heels on ‘Falling’, and imagines the
immense anxieties of sending a child out to fend for itself in an increasingly troubling world on ‘Still Waters’.
Musically, SOHN exercised restraint in the productions, limiting each song to three main elements. His goal was to hone in on the essence
of the tracks, and to ensure that he recorded only the strongest material that could stand on its own without studio magic.
"This was definitely an exercise in trying not to overwork the songs and not to make things too complicated," he explains. "I think I've had
a tendency in the past to overthink the sounds and the layers out of some kind of fear, whereas this time I forced myself to only add those
three main elements in each track and make sure the song itself was good enough."
Good enough is an understatement with Rennen. It's an ambitious exhibition of both his personal and artistic growth, a confident display of
the evolution he's undergone in just two short years. It's also a starter's pistol ringing out loud and clear with an unmistakable message: it's time to run again, and SOHN is ready.
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