Folk with a difference

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Sophie Mashlan’s on a mission to make singing about the music, not the image.

The bubbly 19-year-old Aucklander sings about Greek and Roman sculptures, juggles touring with uni, and cites pop superstar Sia as her biggest influence.

It’s fair to say she’s not your typical folk singer.

“It’s kind of funny to say, but I don’t listen to that much folk music,’’ she laughs.

“I love Sia, she’s such a prolific writer for both her and other artists. It shows she’s really talented, she’s not just a product of a big machine making her a superstar.

“I want to make music like that, where people love the music more than they love the image. There’s not enough people making music like that.’’

Mashlan started out writing rock music, but gravitated towards folk after getting her first acoustic guitar.
She’s had a rapid rise from playing her first pub gig in Parnell at the age of 15.

In the past two years Mashlan has chalked up numerous shows and tours, including support slots for well-known acts such as Vance Joy, Boyce Avenue, Joshua Radin, Graham Candy and Donovan Frankenreiter.

Picking a favourite is tough, but she reckons Joy was the best to open for.

“He was really, really lovely.’’

The gig also allayed her initial fears that her music wouldn’t appeal to younger audiences.

The inspiration for her lyrics is varied, from her own experiences and those of her friends, to Greek and Roman sculptures.

“I sometimes think I write like a 40-year-old,’’ she says.

As well as the impressive support slots, she’s also been tipped by YouTube as an ‘Artist to Watch’ and had her singles land on Apple Music’s ‘Best of the Week’.

Last week she released her debut album, Perfect Disaster, and she’s about to head off on a national tour.

That will bring her to Queenstown’s Sherwood on May 17.

The album’s received positive reviews from critics so far.
It was recorded in Lyttelton with the legendary Ben Edwards, who has worked with the likes of Marlon Williams, Aldous Harding, Nadia Reid, Delaney Davidson and Tami Neilson.

Mashlan says artists like Harding and Reid have done a lot to breathe new life into the folk scene, which had a reputation for “being an old person’s genre’’.

“They’re sort of in a sub-genre of folk, which has made it really cool to be folk.’’

To catch Sophie Mashlan, head to Sherwood, Friday, May 17, 8pm, $12