Though he may be relatively new to the game, LA-based producer Shoffy is already becoming an immovable fixture in indie pop’s future. On his second full-length release, Lenses, out this past Friday, the young musician (real name Alex Shofler) builds further on his own electronic-pop sensibilities, meshing dark house beats, tropical-pop, and soaring walls of synths to create a sound that is distinctly pop, but also distinctly his own.
Following up his self-titled debut from 2017 — along with a couple EPs and many one-off singles — Shofler, who defines his sound as “somewhere between nostalgia and paradise,” has consistently proven his ability to create enormous hits that hinge on poignant songwriting and not just huge EDM beats. Rather infamously transitioning from working in private finance directly into working as a full-time, independent musician, without taking a pay cut.
Shofler is one of the many rising new artists who have figured out how to make streaming work for them, instead of vice versa. Back in 2016, his first big hit “Takes My Body Higher” went viral on Spotify, and since then he’s consistently racked up millions of streams on the platform and acquired a loyal listening base of over a million followers. But that doesn’t mean his sound is totally typified by massive anthems — Shoffy is equally adept at crafting the kind of quiet, meditative tracks (see this record’s “Waiting For The Sunrise”) that invoke deep feelings.
He carefully blends catchy melodies and beats with the emotional heft and introspective depth of his songwriting and lyrics, culminating in his latest project, which represents his strongest batch of songs to date. Lenses was anchored by the early single, “Direction,” which appears as the album’s closer and is one of the best love songs of the year.
Written with Maroon 5’s Sam Farrar, the track works to quell a worried lover’s fears, promising to keep the compass steady regardless of where it points. It’s one of the quieter, more acoustic-leaning songs on the album, still buoyed by an infectious chorus that makes it an easy standout. Another early single, “Cool Again,” takes a lighter turn melodically but the lyrics confront a betrayal, creating a strangely satisfying dissonance that’s perfect for processing negative feelings.
Last week, just a couple days before his new project dropped, I had the chance to sit down with Shoffy over breakfast at his label’s studio and talk about how working as a full-time musician changed his daily life, his influences and the process behind his songwriting, and the surprising artist he’d most like to collaborate with. And if you’re in Los Angeles, Shoffy is also playing a show tonight at Bardot for School Night, more info on that here.
Let’s start talking about your past as a financial analyst since that feels like the beginning of your story. Was music always sort of in your mind while you were building a career in finance?
I studied business at USC and pursuing music at the same time, but it was something I figured I could do outside of school. The music stuff hadn’t really taken off yet, so I had to find a job and, in the business world, private equity seemed interesting because you’re buying and selling companies. It seemed like a more interesting area to go into and focus on. I ended up working for a small private equity firm for about a year after college, then I worked at another firm, Gores Group, for two and a half years. The whole time I was working on music too, and trying to get that going. Music has always been a part of my life and it’s always been something that I’ve been working on. I’d get done at work and I’d head over to a studio and start working on music. It was a nights and weekends thing for me while I was working, which made it pretty hectic, between both things.
And when you decided to make the shift over to music, was the logic of running the numbers the main force? Or was it more emotional and you were just like ‘no, I need to do this.’
While I was working at the firm, “Takes My Body Higher” went viral. It got to number six in the US, fifteen globally on Spotify, and then it was even charting on Billboard. I remember getting a call from management when I was driving home from work that we were going viral on Spotify and I remember that being a really cool moment. So the music stuff started getting some traction while I was working and then the company was restructuring, downsizing and stuff and I was let go in December of 2016.