When first listening to Sophia Bel’s ‘I Won’t Bite’ and ‘2 AM’, the influences of alt-pop yet sweet melodic tones from the 90s are ever-present. Bel radiates ‘new wave nostalgia’; bringing elements from the past and infusing them with her own resolutely contemporary alternative style. Through song, an ode and story inspired by Montreal’s curfew during the pandemic came to life.
The Montreal-based artist oozes a post-90s punk-pop hybrid, all of which will be included in their debut album Anxious Avoidant.
“It’s very much a kind of diary of different emotions and things I’ve experienced over the last couple of years,” she says. “It’s mostly about how I’ve navigated relationships, my attachment style and the way I’ve learned to affirm myself, communicate and be vulnerable.”
Growing up in Quebec City, Bel has always been drawn to a pop-esque style and drawing in inspiration from iconic artists. As a young child, this grew her fascination with singing.
“When I watched Titanic, I was obsessed,” she says. “I kept asking my mom to sing the [Celine Dion] song again so eventually she bought the cassette…I would play it over and over again.”
Bel was hooked. From Dion to Spears, a new passion for music grew. Soon, she would start writing her own music and at 15 she began playing guitar, primarily teaching herself. “I like to create playfully imagery with words that I use,” she says. “I’ve always had a lot of satisfaction with a catchy melody where you hear it for the first time and feel like you were supposed to hear it.”
It’s a balance of fragility and the essence of pop.
Bel’s musical journey would take her to Montreal, where she began to blossom into her signature style and sound. From eccentric clothing to defining her artistry, Bel found a new home in Montreal.
“When I was in the suburbs, I was a little afraid of expressing myself, even by wearing black nail polish in high school would get me bullied,” she says. “In Montreal, I felt I could explore fashion and self-expression through the way that I presented myself.”
Over the last couple of years, Bel has begun to open her horizons. Within the pandemic, she had time to influence her style through creative people intertwining her already playful style.
Bel doesn’t shy away from an explosion of playfulness in her clothing, playing with kid core meets grunge with hints of subtle vintage couture. In many ways, she has amplified her sound through her style.
Through her sound and style, Bel produced songs such as ‘2AM’ and ‘I Won’t Bite’ released in 2021. The concept of codependency during a time of seclusion and restriction is what inspired Bel.
Recently, the songstress released ‘All Fucking Weekend’, opening her debut album and posing the question; what are we? The everpresent question that looms within situationships introduces the album with a sound that replicates Bel’s feelings towards relationships.
“What really makes this track special to me is how we ended up messing around with the ending, exploring a dynamic tempo change and some angsty screaming with a cliche pop-punk countermelody,” she says.
Her track, ‘I Don’t Need Space‘, is the center of her debut album. Originally, Bel wanted to have it share the title of the album but after time gave it its own separate title. “It was one of the tracks that really inspired the vision for the album,” she says. “It’s a song about learning to express your needs and not feel ashamed of them.”
The track, according to Bel, it’s about being unapologetically herself.
“I was used to being a people pleaser, the cool girl that didn’t want to be vulnerable and show anyone that I need them,” she says. “That song is a way of saying I actually am a clingy insecure person that needs reassurance and that needs more than what I’m getting.”
Anxious Avoidant is set to release on April 15, and Bel’s future already has seen a rise with her recent announcement of performing at Osheaga this summer.
“It’s my biggest milestone, I went to that festival when I was 18 and it feels so surreal and it’s come full circle,” she says. “It’s crazy.”
Rhea is Editorial Intern at liminul. She’s a Toronto-based writer with a background in queer subculture, finishing her final year at X University.