Dublin-native Soulé (Samantha Kay) hasn’t been on the music industry for long, but already she’s making waves with her electronic pop sound and infectious, positive attitude. Her debut song, Troublemaker, was nominated for the Choice Music Awards’ 2018 Song of the Year, and now she’s headlining at this year’s AIB Future Sparks event in March. The future looks undeniably bright for this sparkly-eyed go-getter, and we can’t wait to see where she takes it.
Tell us a bit about your life up to this point so far
I’ve been living in Balbriggan since I was 12; I went to Loreto Balbriggan and I just love the community. I finished school in 2013 and then went on to do a Tourism and French course in DIT. A lot of people ask why I didn’t do a music course, and honestly I just never thought about it as even being an option at the time. Singing was just a hobby, but I was happy-out doing the Tourism course because I love travelling and being fluent in French meant that I got to spend a year working for Disneyland Paris!
Wow, so you speak French?
My mum is Congolese, she left the Congo when she was 16 and grew up in the UK, but she has always spoken French to me and my family at home. She also speaks Swahili to us so there was a constant mish-mash of French, English and Swahili being spoken at the same time in our house, and now I have a really keen ear for languages.
How was growing up in Balbriggan, was there much diversity within the area?
I love Balbriggan, there was always a huge amount of diversity in the area so I never really felt left out or self-conscious about being different because of my heritage. Plus the majority of my friends come from different parts of the world, so we were always a happy little melting pot together. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Foróige youth club in Balbriggan; they were a huge support in terms of encouraging our love for music. When we were 16, with their help, we were able to set up a music festival called Nitrogen (it was like a mini Oxegen festival) which was an incredible success – we even got the Coronas to perform!
How did your music journey start?
I always loved singing but a few years ago I started recording myself and uploading the videos to youtube and Facebook. In 2015 a fellow artist called Precious got in touch because he had seen a couple of my videos, liked my voice and wanted me to feature on a song he was working on with Diffusion Lab (an experimental production house working in Dublin’s city centre). That gave me the opportunity to meet the producers, and now here I am three years later making my own songs.
It’s great working with the guys in Diffusion Lab because they put a lot of trust in me, if I say that I have a song that I really like and I want to record, they’re all for it. There’s a big gang of us now who have all started to make music individually and the atmosphere is really supportive.
What have you been up to over the last while?
Well, 2017 was mad! After releasing Love No More in September 2016, everything kind of blew up – in a good way. That was my first single, and although when I listen back now there’s definitely bits that I would change, I’m still proud of it and delighted with what I’ve learnt since.
The big moment of 2017 was when I was nominated for Song of The Year at the Choice Music Awards alongside huge names like James Vincent McMorrow and Niall Horan. I didn’t even have that many live shows under my belt at that point, so it came as a huge surprise! Picture This won the category in the end but even just getting nominated was a huge boost to my confidence as a musician.
With the good comes the bad though, and to be honest there were times during last year when I felt really unsure of myself and my purpose. I felt stagnant, like nothing was happening for me, even though looking back I can see that loads was happening (or at least about to happen).
How do you pick yourself up when you feel down?
Writing music is my outlet for when I’m feeling good, but also it’s a big release method for me when I’m feeling low. Some people write in their diary, others go for a walk – for me writing music is the most cathartic.
What are you up to at the moment?
I’m really excited to focus on my music at the moment and spend my time in the studio. I’m still living at home so that’s enabled me to commit full-time to music making. I want to explore my sound more and develop my skills as much as possible.
Which would you prefer, a day spent performing on stage, or in the studio creating music?
I’d have to say performing on stage. There’s nothing quite like performing in front of a crowd of people. And when they know the words to your songs? Well that’s just the best feeling. I also love how a good performance can cause someone who’s been having a terrible day to do a 180 – everyone together just enjoying the music and leaving their worries behind for a bit, it’s a special feeling.
You go out of your way to use female DJs and backing vocals for your sets. Does this present any difficulties?
Yeah, it was actually quite difficult to find a female DJ. I knew I wanted an all-female team because female empowerment is really important to me, so I was delighted when I found DJ Mona-Lxsa (@mona_lxsa) and she agreed to perform alongside me for my gigs. She is amazing, as are my two female backing singers – we’re all about the girl power on Team Soulé!
What is the main message you want to put across through your music?
I’m all about positivity and genuinety, and making the most of your life
You’re one of the headline acts at The AIB Future Sparks event in March, can you tell us more about this?
The Future Sparks is a brilliant initiative, something I really wish I had access to when I was in school. It’s all about inspiring secondary school students to explore different avenues for their future, from all sectors including business music, food, sport and social entrepreneurship, and showing them their potential through workshops, inspirational talks and panel discussions. I feel really honoured to have been chosen to represent the Music sector on the day, I’m a bit nervous actually…
What are you most looking forward to doing in 2018?
I’m so excited to tour Europe and the UK. I really want my music to reach as many people as possible, plus touring means I get to combine my two passions – music and travel!