"I wanted to write an album for my 15-year-old self, growing up kind of lost, but just knowing I loved music": Sophie Lloyd on the origins of her Imposter Syndrome album

Sophie Lloyd holding a guitar
(Image credit: Nathersonn)

Earlier this year, Sophie Lloyd found herself in a bar with Michael Starr. The Steel Panther frontman – one of ten guest singers on Lloyd’s hard rock debut, Imposter Syndrome – was in London to shoot a music video with her. It all started sensibly enough. Then, with the arrival of select fans and Lloyd’s rocker friends, it all got a bit Coyote Ugly. 

“We did shots with the water hose spraying the whole crowd,” she says, “the girls dancing on the bar with Michael, we had someone take body shots off Michael and everything. It all just suddenly went a bit out of control towards the last two hours. It was fun.” 

It’s a huge change of scene for the guitarist, who developed her chops in her bedroom and made her name with a successful YouTube channel (now over 1 million subscribers), doing shred versions of standards from Enter Sandman to Stairway To Heaven. But there are two sides to Lloyd. The impressive stats, Joe Satriani-meets-Zakk Wylde licks and glamazon look say one thing; the subject matter of Imposter Syndrome says another. 

“I’m quite introverted,” she says. “I’m quite a quiet person, especially when I’m on my own, but when you’re in that music, you have to be the loud, confident person.” 

Even with her classic inspirations (Led Zeppelin, Rory Gallagher, Alice Cooper…) Lloyd, 27, is a product of 21st century rock. Growing up in Henley-on-Thames, she had Steel Panther posters on her bedroom wall. Her dad’s Joe Bonamassa records were part of her musical diet. She sang along to Halestorm songs in her mother’s car on the way to school. It’s all fed into Imposter Syndrome, with Lzzy Hale singing the title track.

“I wanted to write an album for my 15-year-old self,” she explains, “growing up kind of lost, but just knowing I loved music and I loved these bands. Everyone on the album is someone I admired while growing up.” 

Joining local band Marisa & The Moths gave her live experience in pubs and clubs. Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien and the theatrical drama of (American violinist) Lindsey Sterling showed the possibilities of instrumental stardom. But it was becoming Machine Gun Kelly’s touring guitarist, in 2022, that put her on the map in a bigger way. 

Together with certain covers on her channel (her shred video of Smells Like Teen Spirit drew “an influx of hate”), it’s opened her up to the highs and lows of the internet – including a share of neanderthal missives about her looks. “Stuff like ‘Oh I was watching it on mute…’” she rolls her eyes. “Hey, that’s still a view for me, that’s still paying my bills! Everyone gets hate. I think a lot of people think, ‘someone’s making her dress like that’, but that’s how I like to do it, I’m really into that kind of fashion. There’s definitely a character element. That’s just what I’m into at the moment, and it’ll change as well – I’m sure it will go in waves.” 

At the time of writing, Lloyd was gearing up to hold auditions for a touring singer. She dreams of writing music for video games. One day she’d like to run an animal sanctuary (she volunteers for Dogs’ Trust). 

“The makeup and outfits give me the confidence to stand up a little straighter and be like, ‘Yeah, I’m cool,’” she muses. “But secretly I’m a little nerd, you know?”

Imposter Syndrome is out now via Autumn Records.

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.