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A Dirty Dozen with SONJA MIDTUNE – April 2021

| 9 April 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Flush with momentum after the success of her early 2019 single “My Light” and its popular video, Sonja Midtune was starting to look into updating gems from her back catalog for possible release when fate intervened and she fractured her leg. Faced with sudden immobility, rehab, and a fresh set of mental/emotional challenges, the resilient L.A. based indie-Americana singer/songwriter began reflecting on her life to date – and penned four of the most compelling, emotionally cathartic songs of her career. She will be sharing them on her new EP Dreams Melt Away, set for release on April 2, 2021.” We get Sonja to discuss new music, influences, and more…

Photo credit: Michelle Lanning

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

This is new territory for me and my listeners. The EP is a journey from leaving home to accepting my new home. The die-hards will catch the storyline. 🙂

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Like lots of musicians, I was always into music, but my first experience as a lead singer on stage really locked it in for me.  In high school, I found a friend crying in the hallway because she had agreed to sing in a cover band, but when they gave her the music it was all Led Zeppelin, and she didn’t want to do it anymore. I said I could help by doing the gig, and it just took off from there. We did a 20-minute Zeppelin medley, some Rolling Stones, and No Doubt – per my request! Before that, I had done musical theatre, but nothing was as satisfying as the band experience.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Not one specifically. My taste keeps changing! Growing up, I loved Led Zeppelin, Weezer, No Doubt, Coldplay, and John Mayer, but as I get older I’m drawn to more indie artists like Wilco, Joni Mitchell, and now going even further indie. The common vein all the artists have is that they really make you feel and want to sing.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

I really pulled inspiration from bands I’ve found in the last five years for this EP.  I would say Ray LaMontagne, Andy Shauf, Michael Kiwanuka, Madison Cunningham, and Jade Bird really influenced the sound for these tracks.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Chris Martin. The lyrics, the way his music and lyrics makes people feel so alive and feel so deeply.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I would say it’s a little bit singer-songwriter meets indie Americana. I really don’t like to be compared to the Sarah Bareilles/Ingrid Michaelson/Colbie Caillat-era of female indie songwriters. While I can appreciate them, I was never into that vibe at their peak (when I was in high school/college).

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

The band is just me, so these moments don’t happen, ha ha. Justin Glasco, my producer, played almost every instrument on the EP. We did everything except my vocals and guitar over Zoom and had a blast. Working with him has been the single best decision I’ve made in the last five years.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I feel like I’ve been out of society for so long due to the pandemic that it’s hard to remember. Right before the pandemic, I rode an elevator with Tony Kanal and didn’t dare to speak, so I suppose I was a bit starstruck!

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The best part is when someone says they feel their emotions captured in one of my songs. It’s a gift to feel understood. An alternate reality I could see myself in is being a candle/soap-making hippie, living up in the mountains somewhere, detached from civilization. I recently decided I wanted to learn how to make candles, and I’m making them as merch for the EP! Four candles for four songs and four scents. It will be a listening experience where listeners can light a candle and enjoy it during the song.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Honestly, the “musical influences” questions are really hard to answer. Over the years, I’ve become obsessed with certain artists or bands that don’t translate into my music at all. It’s hard to exclude them when answering the questions, but including them doesn’t ring true either. I love answering questions about the meaning behind my songs!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Yes – I got ProTools in 2012 for my birthday but didn’t have the funds to get recording equipment and learn. The software expired, and it was so expensive back then. Years later, I’m learning to produce and record my music and it has changed everything for me. I wish I would have learned those skills back in 2012 instead of having to rely on others to get my music done.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

This is going to sound clichéd, but I would love to be around in the Rubber Soul era of The Beatles. The way they have influenced music eternally is unmatched, and that record has such an interesting combo of songwriting styles; I’d love to experience the recording process.

BONUS QUESTION – Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

Randomness. I’m an extrovert. I love to see many friends a day, pull over and walk around in new areas, go to a show by myself and make friends, and get lost in Los Angeles.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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