London-based DIY artist Sona Koloyan explores identity, self-love and immigrant life in her debut release Pity Party.
A collection of seven lo-fi bedroom tracks, Pity Party embodies Koloyan’s relationship with herself as an ethnic Armenian who was born and raised in the Czech Republic, and currently living in the United Kingdom.
With haunting harmonies and chilling bursts of intimacy in her words, Koloyan gives listeners a deep look inside what she described as “the feelings of being an immigrant through the nuances of daily life,” touching on self-love, body image, anger and longing.
Koloyan was thrown into a period of discomfort and disillusionment after discovering health complications when visiting family, while also having to move house when she returned to London.
“It was weird getting used to everything,” Koloyan said. “It was weird to try to be a person and socialize and do normal people things.”
Feeling lost and yearning to feel grounded, the song “Pity Party” was born, the first to be written for Koloyan’s project.
Similarly,“Like Any Other Night” was written while settling into a new home yet again, epitomizing the disorienting repetition of moving from place to place as a foreigner, and having to wonder where home really is.
As Koloyan reflects on the back and forth movements of her current life, she also remembers a distant yet familiar part of her. Some may recognize Koloyan’s nod to her Armenian heritage in “Fragile Flesh” with its alluring and mesmerizing scales. Despite having grown up in continental Europe, such tonalities come the most naturally to Koloyan in her music.
At the same time, the wistful melodies hide instances of self-deprecating humor, intended to soften the seriousness of her melancholic complaints.
So, according to Koloyan, listeners should not take everything in her songs such as “Bog Body” and “Pity Party” too seriously. But those who can relate to her music will realize, perhaps, that humor is a common way to convey uncomfortable and personal subjects to others.
Pity Party began as a university project that explored the effects of DIY technology recording on songwriting. With mastering by Naomi Jackson of the Omnii collective, Koloyan wrote, recorded and produced the project herself, using what instruments she could find in her various bedrooms, including her iPhone and underwear drawers.
Koloyan’s research on DIY music also focused on historical and philosophical aspects that pertain specifically to minority groups who were forced to “find pockets of creativity…and craft their own spaces in environments where they didn’t feel safe.”
Pity Party is Koloyan’s personal confession of life as a foreigner without generalizing the immigrant experience, an issue close to Koloyan’s heart. During those common times of feeling forgotten, Koloyan’s music will certainly reach out to other minorities as a source of encouragement and familiarity.
Featured photo by Sophie Ramischwili-Schäfer