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Almost A Dirty Dozen with SOPHIA MARIE – May 2022

Photo credit: Kate Lawlor

According to a recent press release: “LA raised singer-songwriter Sophia Marie’s music is autobiographical. Each of her songs tells the story of a young life in progress. From leaving the sunny, casual west coast for a more buttoned-up DC life at Georgetown University (where she studies International Politics) to a life-changing semester abroad in Dublin, to unrequited romances and lovesick travels, each of these experiences is vividly documented in her music. A shamelessly emotional person, Sophia’s vulnerability stands out, with witty lyrics and asides giving comedic, realist commentary on the different places and situations she finds herself in. She is a girl still very much figuring it all out, the kind of crazy soul who seeks out every opportunity and every emotion life can offer. A wildness that sometimes contradicts her inexperienced and naive demeanor, a romanticism that contradicts her occasional feelings of disillusionment, and a performative personality that often contradicts her desire for authenticity.” We get Sophia Marie to discuss new music, influences, and more…

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?

They might not grab that it’s supposed to be satire. It’s this very up-beat, energetic song that seems very narcissistic and delusional because it’s supposed to distract from actual heartbreak. The bridge of the song really goes into that when it says, “Not you whom I’m dancing with. I must seem like some heartless bitch, but it’s payback for your age-old rejection.” It speaks of this girl who’s flirting with everyone just because the one person she likes isn’t giving her the attention she craves. Also, my reference to Nicolaus Copernicus, the founder of the heliocentric theory might be something a listener gets on the second or third time through. I wanted to create this image of this girl thinking she’s at the center of the universe with all these men around her. So, she images herself the sun and the men around her the planets, adding again to her delusions.

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

I’ve always liked writing in general ever since I was really little, so it seemed natural to me that I’d become a songwriter. But I didn’t learn the guitar until right when quarantine hit. I was sitting at home, and I was like, I’ve always wanted to learn an instrument (besides being forced by my parents to play the viola in the school orchestra), now there’s no excuse to not. So I stole my sister’s guitar teacher and started doing lessons on ZOOM learning chords. And once I felt comfortable enough with chords, I just started writing and couldn’t stop. I’d travel to new places and bring my guitar and record all these ideas I have. Now at school in DC, I get back from classes or my internships and just sit on my bed and make random songs about what I’m feeling and what I want to do and what I want to have.

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

I think Taylor Swift’s early era where she just totally (in a hilarious, not-to-be-taken-so-seriously-kind-of-way) decimated men who broke her heart really speaks to me. The songs like “Narcissist” and “Foreigner” kind of remind me of “Picture to Burn,” “Mean,” and “Better than Revenge.” My newer songs try to delve into this more tragic, heart-breaking setting. I love Lana Del Rey’s music and have been trying to incorporate more of her style in songs, like can be seen with “What A Waste.” I want that kind of dark romantic vibe that I always get from watching her, but I sometimes wonder if that’s truly me. I think it’s hard to be true to the person you actually are in your art but then also want to experiment with other forms. I also love Caroline Polachek and Alexandra Savior. I want to incorporate their kind of production in my music because I think it’s incredible.

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

I’m obsessed with the songwriter and record producer Nick Nowels. He worked with Lana Del Rey on a lot of my favorite songs of hers, including “Salvatore,” “Young and Beautiful,” and “West Coast.” I absolutely adore what he does with songs—he makes them sound so nostalgic and filmic. That is the kind of music I hope to go into—the kind of tragically beautiful sound with beautiful lyrics to accompany it.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

It’s funny because right now I see music as my “unwinding.” I see school as my main causer of stress, all my International Politics classes filling up my life (I do love it, though) as well as my internship at the French Embassy. I am involved in lots of clubs too at school, including writing for our international affairs magazine and engaging in political and public service activities. It sometimes drives me crazy. So, whenever it’s just me and my guitar, creating new songs, I find it to be most relaxing. I guess music becomes less about unwinding when I feel I have to capitalize off my ideas or my feelings or a new melody I discover I want to turn into a chorus. That’s when it can feel more like a chore.

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 think I would describe my music as pop-punk with quirky, self-aware often hilarious lyrics. I’d say there’s a lot of rebellion in what I do as well as a self-deprecating self-awareness that allows me to poke fun at myself and others. It often speaks of foreign places, so a kind of international perspective is definitely prevalent. I’ve got from others that I remind them of Taylor Swift, Fiona Apple, as well as the kind of savageness of Alanis Morissette. I’d say that anger is really easy for me to demonstrate or turn into art. It’s weird. Specifically, my experiences with being an actor, I’ve always had a really hard time portraying true utter, almost nauseating happiness. It almost feels exhausting. I find it a lot easier to delve into the emotions of sadness and anger. I think it’s why a lot of my song give off this rebellious, pop-punk sound, because it’s something I come most naturally by. And also, when I’m writing a song, there’s usually something I want to get off my chest or something I desperately need to get closure from. That’s less so the case when I feel happy.

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

I was at Coachella, and I saw Caroline Polachek perform. Her set was transformative. I was right in the front row. I knew every single word to all her songs. Her album Pang helped me so much. One time during the performance, she pointed my way and blew a kiss. I have bad eyesight, and I don’t wear glasses, so I was doubting if she was pointing at me. And then near the end of the set, a guy next to me in the audience says to me, “in case you were in doubt, she pointed at you.” That was the best thing ever. It made me so happy. She’s so cool. Her music means so much to me. She was the best performer I’ve ever seen I think in my life. She’s ethereal. I wanted her to know that I knew all her lyrics and that I’m a huge fan. I feel a need for people I admire to know that. I want to know how much they help their fans.

8. 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 of being a musician is that music creates a movie in the head of everyone. Music turns on certain parts of peoples’ brains and emotions. Music takes you back to a certain moment or can help you when you need to find a light in whatever darkness you feel yourself to be in. Music is also often universal, and I love it when listeners take the lyrics to mean something personally to them. I actually kind of love it when some people sing incorrect lyrics because it means they’re manifesting their own selves into the music. They’re creating this other version because that’s the more individualized one. I find that so powerful.

9. 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?

I guess the question “why am I am musician.” I get a lot of questions asking how I became one, but I’d like to think that choosing to be a musician is a deliberate decision. Or, I guess, in my specific case, why I am still continuing with pursuing music? It’s because I don’t think I am ever happier than I am when I am in the studio turning my demos into finalized songs. I love the whole process. Seeing a song I wrote a year ago get turned into something completely new. Adding all the different layers. I love the feeling of having to prove myself, of knowing I am being critiques by my peers because it makes me want to be better. I love that being a musician sharpens many of my talents, including my writer, my guitar-playing, my acting in regard to music videos, and my visual aesthetic design with cover arts and promotion.

10. 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?

I don’t think so. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and wouldn’t trade the process for the world.

11. 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?

I would say “Girlie” by Alexandra Savior. I think it’s a brilliant song. I love the old Hollywood lyrics, how it describes the kind of girl who desperately wants attention in a very crude way that contradicts its very smooth, silky production. I love her voice. I think also “Video Games” by Lana Del Rey just because that was her breakthrough. I would like to know how she came up with the idea for that. I find her whole history and personality fascinating.



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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