Sofia D'Angelo Is Making Her Pop Star Dreams Come True

New York native Sofia D’Angelo, one-sixth of the band MICHELLE, is becoming her own idol with her newest singles.


Sofia D’Angelo is an undeniable dreamgirl. I knew it the first second that I laid eyes on her: floating into a poetry reading, late from a live show, wearing knee-high pink and yellow, plaid heeled boots and a pastel knit set. Her list of hyphens reads like something a party girl scrawled out on a cocktail napkin in a divebar daydream: popstar, poet, producer, singer-songwriter, DJ, model. She’s my favorite face to see bouncing around in the crowd, in the backrooms of parties, lighting up the stage solo or with her six-piece band, MICHELLE.

As the Manhattan native gears up to release solo music for the first time in four years, we giggle on the phone, discussing rockstar dreams and the colorful new sonic world she’s building for herself. It’s not so much a diary entry as it is a reflection of the person she’s become. From glittery odes to nightlife to expressing the effervescent gush of true anger, Sofia gives us a glimpse across the borders of her new musical landscape: a moody swirl of disco and rock—both glamorous and gritty—that makes you wanna stay forever. Stream "Take It Back / Jane Goodall" now!

Ali Royals: Hello my angel. How are you, where are you, where have you been?

Sofia D'Angelo: I’m back in the city after a girls' trip to Florida with my Aunt. I'm putting solo music out, and it's a real test of everything I've learned from being in the industry for so long, which is awesome.

When I first started making music, I wanted to be a rock star. I still do. Now, it’s just time to color things in and color them up and be the pop star that I always wanted to be. My friend Clara helped me find all these amazing pieces in my closet, and Nikole shot it, and I was like, “Oh my god. This is the pop star I’ve always wanted to be.”

Ali Royals: You're putting out new music and have some new MICHELLE work on the horizon. Talk to me a little bit about what specific projects are really lighting up your life right now.

Sofia D'Angelo: I’ve just released a double single, "Take It Back" and "Jane Goodall." It's the kind of project that feels like my whole musical journey has been leading up to. Last year, I did the whole L.A. writing trip thing for the first time. That ended up being where I made the two songs I'm releasing. It unlocked this new sense of freedom because I only knew New York. I was born and raised here. I felt a little bit freer to try new sounds, try new melodies, and express sides of myself as an artist that I either didn't know existed.

I was in a band in high school, and I’m in a band now. MICHELLE happened in 2018, and it’s been such a journey and continues to be the best gift ever to me. But what I’m working on now is completely me—so that's been really enlightening. I was listening to it in the car with my aunt and I was like, "I'm so excited for people to hear my own songs."

“When I first started making music, I wanted to be a rock star. I still do. Now, it’s just time to color things in and color them up and be the pop star that I always wanted to be.”

Ali Royals: What have been some of your biggest sources of inspiration lately?

Sofia D'Angelo: In L.A., I was listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac. Tusk, specifically. I was really influenced by Fiona Apple's Fetch the Bolt Cutters album. And also the Rosalia Motomami record. Those three records really inspired me. I’m also just inspired by my life. For these songs, it was more like taking a bird's-eye view on my relationships and the person I've become since the pandemic. One of the songs, "Take it Back", is about how I deal with anger. When I’m angry I feel like a shaken can of soda just waiting to explode, so I wanted to get that feeling in the song. And then the other song "Jane Goodall" is about my relationship to Nightlife. It’s been such an important part of my life for the past few years.

Ali Royals: You write poetry, you write music. How is your approach different between those two mediums?

Sofia D'Angelo: With lyrics, I think in melodies and vowels, or even rhythms—and then I have to fill in the gaps syllabically. At least that's how "Take it Back" happened. Some of the lyrics are nonsensical, but that's kind of the point—because when you're so angry, you can't really form coherent sentences. So I really leaned into that. For "Jane Goodall", I really remember that moment of writing it. I was working with these guys in L.A., Kevin and Michael. I went out to the terrace and it felt like the words and melody just came straight from the clouds into my mind.

Ali Royals: There are so many moments in writing where it just feels like divine intervention.

Sofia D'Angelo: Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like you wrote it. It’s like a highway robbery. But it's mine now. For the chorus, it's a super idealistic chorus. I’m asking, is it gonna be like this forever? If not, it'll be so hard. That’s what nightlife means to me.

Ali Royals: Talk to me a little bit about the New York music scene. I almost feel like that's how I met you at first, which is so fun.

Sofia D'Angelo: I'm an extrovert. I love to see and be seen. I love to get dressed and have a place to go. I love good music. I love good conversation. I like to party. Right now I'm doing this release myself, but I could not have done it if it weren't for the music community that I became a part of. If it weren't for nightlife, I wouldn't have these amazing photos from Nikole, I wouldn't have the friends I made through DJing and performing. I'm just so grateful. It takes a village.

I remember when Jackson [Walker Lewis] first told me about fcukers—probably one of the best bands to come out of New York City right now. Watching them grow has been so great. Or even the photographer Matt Weinberger. We’ve been friends since high school. He used to take my Facebook profile pictures.

Ali Royals: How old were you when you were like, this is it? I’m gonna be a musician and nothing else?

Sofia D'Angelo: Preschool. When people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d say a singer or a rock star, and that answer just never changed. But being thrown into the industry too young would have broken me so bad.

Ali Royals: Have you found the industry to be super cutthroat?

Sofia D'Angelo: I personally haven't found it as such, but I think that's because I'm aware that it's an industry. As much as I need emotional and artistic fulfillment, I know these people want and need to make money. My band Michelle is very, very self-sufficient. We do a lot of our stuff ourselves. And since I only wanted to be a musician, a big factor for me is figuring out how to make a living from it, and that's luckily where DJing comes in. I've been really venturing out on my TikTok and trying different things, trying to get new ears on my songs. It’s just showbiz. I love the game. When it comes to being in the writing room, it's a fun exercise sometimes to be like, let's make a sellout track. I've been experimenting with dance music, and I've thrown it in my DJ sets, and people go crazy.

Ali Royals: Can you describe what it feels like to perform for a live audience?

Sofia D'Angelo: I just consider the stage my home. I can’t believe I’m about to tell you this, but when I was 12? 15? My mom took me to a Jonas Brothers Meet and Greet. I asked them if they had any advice for an aspiring musician. And Joe Jonas said: whether you're playing in front of five people or 500 people, you have to give them the best. And it's honestly some of the best advice I've ever gotten. Now, whatever room I'm in, whatever day I've had, I just give the best show that I can give and try to make the audience feel like a part of it and just give myself to them as best as I can.

Ali Royals: What would you say the inside of your brain sounds like these days?

Sofia D'Angelo: When we were recording the new MICHELLE album, the inside of my brain sounded like Chris Black and Jason Stewart. Like literally, just How Long Gone.

Ali Royals: This is gonna be a hard one for you. If you had to pick: pop stars or rock stars.

Sofia D'Angelo: Oh my God. If you had asked me that a year ago, it probably would have been rock stars, but now I would probably say pop stars, but also it's interesting seeing the definitions of the two adapt with time and adapt with, music and culture. I just miss the world builders. Lady Gaga and Cher and Madonna. Charli XCX is doing that now, which is awesome.

So I guess now I would have to say pop stars and maybe secretly deep down, that's always been my answer. But I just wanted to hold a guitar, you know?

Ali Royals: What has been bringing you the most joy recently?

Sofia D'Angelo: Any sort of reminder of the relationships that I have, friendships and otherwise, and the community that I have around me, that brings me a lot of joy. I'm just like, wow, look at this world that I've made for myself. Sometimes it's just astonishing to be think I'm really living this dream that I had for myself as a six-year-old being who thought: I'm gonna be a pop star. And now, here I am doing it.

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