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As a musician and award-winning actor, Soko is known for her remarkably emotional performances. Her 2007 single "I'll Kill Her" -- a song she recorded to share with a few friends that became a hit across Europe -- introduced her throaty, confessional vocals and her poetic yet immediately relatable lyrics. Though she recorded sporadically as she juggled her careers, when she released an album or song, she made it count. Soko expanded on her heart-on-sleeve, free-flowing style with 2012's I Thought I Was an Alien, which touched on love, loss, and her fluid sexuality with delicate sounds that belied its confidence. Over the years, her music became more adventurous. On 2015's My Dreams Dictate My Reality, she added a goth-pop sheen and subversive hooks to her approach; on 2020's Feel Feelings, she returned to her French roots, evoking Air and Serge Gainsbourg as she expressed the need to honor every emotion. Born Stephanie Sokolinski in Bordeaux in 1985, Soko moved to Paris at age 16 to become an actress. While taking acting classes, she began writing songs and posting them online. One of these songs, 2007's "I'll Kill Her," became a hit in Denmark, Austria, Belgium, and Australia; despite interest from record labels, Soko remained independent, founding her Babycat Records label and releasing her debut EP, Not Sokute, that April. "I'll Kill Her"'s success led to having her music used in Stella McCartney's show at Paris Fashion Week that October and an opening slot on M.I.A.'s U.K. tour at the end of the year. However, Soko's busy acting career beckoned, and she took a temporary break from music. Her performance in Xavier Giannoli's 2009 film A l'Origine earned her a César Award nomination for Most Promising Actress; in 2011, she appeared in Virginie Despentes' Bye Bye Blondie with Béatrice Dalle. By 2011, Soko had moved to Los Angeles and worked with Cornershop on the single "Something Makes You Feel Like" and with the Go! Team on the album Rolling Blackouts. Another high-profile collaboration came in the form of 2011's Mourir Auprès de Toi, an animated short film co-written and directed by Spike Jonze that featured Soko's acting and her performance of its theme song. The song also appeared on Soko's February 2012 debut album, I Thought I Was an Alien, a set of intimate alt-pop songs that charted in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. That May, Alice Winocour's film Augustine premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and Soko's performance in the title role won praise -- as well as the award for Best Actress at the 2013 Women Film Critics Circle Awards. Following I Thought I Was an Alien's wider release in June 2013, the album charted in the U.K. and the U.S. More chart success came Soko's way in 2014 when she appeared in Tatia Pileva's short film First Kiss: Her song "We Might Be Dead by Tomorrow," which was featured in the film, became a Top Ten hit in the U.S. and topped the Billboard Streaming Songs chart when First Kiss went viral. After working with Ariel Pink on his 2014 album Pom Pom, Soko continued her collaboration with him on her second full-length. Recorded with producer Ross Robinson (whose work with the Cure was a major influence on Soko), My Dreams Dictate My Reality arrived in March 2015 and drew from '80s pop, new wave, and post-punk. Soko also contributed to the Brian Jonestown Massacre's Musique de Film Imaginé, which was released that April. Following her work in Stéphanie Di Giusto's La Danseuse, which earned her a second César nomination, Soko started work on her third album. She recorded in New York City in 2016 and 2017 with a team that included Chairlift's Patrick Wimberly and Sean Lennon, as well as members of Beach Fossils, MGMT, and DIIV. After taking some time to become a mother, Soko released the sensual, free-flowing Feel Feelings in 2020.
© Heather Phares /TiVo
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