“I want to be as real as I can,” says rising pop hero Anna Sofia. “I don’t want to have to try and hide anything from anyone – in my music, on my social media, it’s all the truth.”

At just 17, the Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has won critical acclaim, millions of streams and legions of dedicated fans for one simple reason: she’s being herself. Her music is not the result of focus groups, marketing or following trends. There’s no hindsight and no lecturing. She’s just an artist living in the moment, reflecting life back to the same people coming of age and navigating the drama of becoming an adult..

“I talk about certain things in my songs that have legitimately happened to me or my friends, or about what high school life is really like from a high schoolers’ brain,” she says. “There are older artists out there who can look back with a more mature view, but I just wanted to show it from my perspective and how teenagers think. My music is my story.”

She started telling that story from a young age. With a love and active life in dance since she was two-years-old and playing piano by age four, Anna has always been drawn to music and self expression. At one dance recital as a young teen, she filled a five-minute gap in the performance with an instinctive cover of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ by Judy Garland. It was a fitting choice of song, as it was at that moment that the horizon became clear and she realised her future as a singer.

It wasn’t long before management scouted her, and Anna Sofia started to find her voice and tell her truth. Inspired by Benee, Elton John, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Tyler, the creator,, she set about creating sophisticated but immediate indie meets R&B bangers that are totally free of pretense and bullshit, singing directly from the heart of the Gen Z experience.

She sang about the harsh reality of high school friendship on early release ‘Meaner Girl’ (“'Cause I'm a mean girl to a meaner girl/Never really liked you/Just stuck in your world/It's not my fault that you don't like it,”) and turned even more heads with ‘I Try’ painting a familiar picture of young love and obsession (“Regret taking a chance on a boy like this/Now I'm wrapped around his finger and I don't mind it”), but it was signing to Republic Records and dropping ‘Self Aware Bitch’ when Sofia truly captured what she was all about. “I only want a few close friends,” she sang of avoiding gossip, pressure and fakery, “The rest just pretend...Just call me a self aware bitch Sorry, at least I'm being honest.”

“‘Self Aware Bitch’ was me realising who I really am,” she says. “I’ve definitely tried to change a lot for different people and keep up with all the social trends, but last year I realised that I don’t need to change or look a certain way for anyone. You’re perfect without having to change for anyone. The ‘Bitch’ part is about standing up for yourself and not to let anyone try to change you. Be that bitch you know you can be inside. Let them know who you are.”

As for her own identity, Sofia has no time for being lazily held up to others. “A lot of people have tried to compare me to certain artists but said, ‘She’ll never be like that’,” Sofia admits. “It’s like, ‘No, nobody is trying to be anyone. I’m going to be inspired by different people but it’s something that has bothered me. People make a lot of mistakes – thinking that because I do my makeup or dress similar to this artist or that artist, I’m trying to look like them or be them.”

She continues: “A lot of people find joy in putting others down. It’s super easy to bully someone on social media because you’re hiding behind a screen, but you don’t really think of how it can affect someone. There are these people that come in and stomp all over those who are working so hard to get to where they want to be, but people just come in and ruin it for their own pleasure.”

There will always be haters, but more important is the vast online community hooked to her authentic tales of life in 2020. The next taster of that comes with the “grungier funk” of her upcoming ‘Broken Perfection EP’ – a boldly promising next step for an artist coming into her own. “I’m falling in and out of love with you, we’ve been on pause but now we can resume,” she pines of the effortless N.E.R.D.-esque groove of the title track, while there’s a touch of The Cure with some streetwise pop thrown in on the summer-bop of ‘Happy For You’. ‘Don’t Play Pretend’ meanwhile, perfectly captures Sofia’s bittersweet approach to pop: “I like my days with a little rain, I like my ways a bit insane, I prefer some gloom to boost my mood”.

“On this EP, I’m really starting to explain my stories and open up a lot more,” she says. “It talks about relationships, breaking up, being in bed and not wanting to go anywhere. It goes from one extreme to the other, from not that deep to super deep. It’s just a sign of me becoming a lot more comfortable.”

While determined to reach as many people as possible, Anna Sofia has no manifesto or mission statement – just to stay true and speak to others. “I don’t have a message. It’s just real life,” she admits. “For the young kids who haven’t reached high school yet but are watching all the cute high school movies and think it’s the dream, it’s really not. There’s a lot of drama and it’s a place where you have to devote your life to working because that can make or break your future.

“One day, I hope to fill stadiums all over the world. I want to have fans everywhere and have some way of helping them or guiding them through my music. My confidence comes from being myself and connecting with people.”