Close this search box.

Sophia Bel Refines Her Attachment Style

The Montreal anti-pop star gets ready to turn the page with a deluxe version of her album Anxious Avoidant.

by Fraser Hamilton

Photos by William Arcand

Sophia Bel isn’t the kind of artist who’s necessarily looking to lift you up through the power of song. An introspective person by nature, the Montreal-based anti-pop star would much rather use her music to dive into her inner fears and relationships with reckless abandon. “I was never able to write music about feeling like the coolest, most badass person in the room,” she tells RANGE. “It’s never what I gravitated towards.” 

Presenting an extended version of her 2022 album with six new songs, Anxious Avoidant Deluxe (out Feb. 10 via Bonsound) is crackling with emotional energy, taking inspiration from the Y2K pop-punk sound, mixed with Bel’s confessional lyrics. Songs like “You’re Not Real You’re Just a Ghost,” which recently hit over a million streams on Spotify, perfectly handle the balance of vulnerability and fun. Bel loves the simplicity and romanticism of pop music just as much as the grittiness of punk. 

“Pop music is just relatable,” she says. “People associate it with mainstream artists like Dua Lipa or Justin Bieber, but to me it’s more about who the lyrics are speaking to.” She also notes how Gen Z is more receptive to pop songs tackling darker subjects. “The younger generation is so much more comfortable with their vulnerabilities. Millennials set the table for that.”

Both radio-friendly pop and punk sounds from the early aughts have inspired Bel since high school. She spent her time obsessing over other artists like Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, The Killers, and even Drake or Taylor Swift. “My song structures and influences were majorly influenced by Swift,” she admits. “Her songs are so easy to learn, and were a major help when I started playing guitar.”

It’s not just other musicians that had a hand in inspiring Bel. Like most of us, she loved watching teen drama shows like The OC and the original Gossip Girl, which provided a perception of how relationships work, for better or for worse. “Shows like that really gave me a warped view of romantic relationships,” she says. “They remind me of how I learned to communicate and what I expected out of people. Like what I could or couldn’t say to a person.” She ties this theory to new songs on the deluxe like “No Sleep,” a self-described “emo-hyperpop” track about addictive behaviours within relationships. Cannabis addiction in particular is a focus in the track, as Bel sings, “Mary Jane won’t save me, she hates me.”

“It’s about how a relationship can become an addiction in itself,” Bel explains. “If you have addiction issues, it doesn’t necessarily matter what it’s geared towards. You’re just trying to fill some type of void, whether it’s with drugs or food or partnerships.”

With these new songs for the deluxe version, Bel wanted to put out the remnants of what was on her mind before looking towards new projects and sounds. “At first it didn’t feel like these songs were a part of the same story [with Anxious Avoidant],” she explains. “But with the next style of music I want to focus on, I need to turn the page and leave these songs in the past. So releasing a deluxe is the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to this era.” 

Photo: Will Arcand

New songs like “Aftertaste” even started out as simple lyric-less demos. “I couldn’t write anything on it,” Bel says about the low-tempo album closer. “I just produced the instrumental and I never knew what to do with it. But then I came up with the hook, and felt this blink-182-style melody and it all just started making sense.”

After Anxious Avoidant Deluxe is released, Bel is already looking forward to diving into the early stages of what her next album will sound like. “I’ve been listening to a lot of shoegaze and dream pop,” she says. “Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. I’m exploring anything that fills my space up with distortion.” 

She’s also gearing up for performing the new songs to a crowd, like at Montreal’s Taverne Tour. When asked how she’s feeling about performing live, she’s notably on brand: “I’m kinda anxious,” she laughs. “But mainly I’m excited about bringing these songs to life in a new way.”

RANGE Magazine presents Sophia Bel on Feb. 10 at Quai des brumes (Montreal) as part of Taverne Tour | TICKETS & INFO