28 February, 2019Print
Sophie Auster Q&A
1. Your music has been described as a blend of folk, blues, pop and cabaret—how would you describe your sound, sans genre, in three words.
Eclectic, intimate, and bold
2. Would you consider Next Time a big sonic departure from your past records? How have you grown as a musician while making this record and since your last one?
The best part of making Next Time was recording in a home studio that was available to me 24 hours a day. It made me feel totally at ease and free to experiment. I think I learned how to trust myself and relax on this record. I feel more in command of my abilities as a musician than I ever have before.
3. What was it like recording abroad in Sweden for the first time? What was it like recording with a legendary producer like Tore Johansson, who’s had his hands in so moulding so many different hits.
Getting out of New York and escaping to the Swedish countryside to make Next Time was a truly amazing experience. We created our own little family during the making of the record. We cooked together, drank together, and played music. Since the house and studio were on a farm, there were zero distractions. We lived and breathed the record morning, noon and night. Tore and I were like two peas in a pod in the studio. He pushed me when I needed to be pushed and he didn’t stop until he had gotten the best performances out of me.
4. This record is replete with escapist fantasies and poetic symbolism—“Black Water” is a particular standout. The songs also feel very hopeful. What was the inspiration behind the record and this approach.
The central idea behind ‘Next Time’ is how archetypal figures of femininity and masculinity play against each other in familiar cultural scenarios. I used my own personal experiences as the inspiration and then elaborated further to create little stories that serve as social commentary. Of course the record is also about looking back and forward—remedying past mistakes and doing it better the second time around. This record is my “next time”.
5. You’ve played all over the world—what was your most electrifying live experience and why?
I played a show in Madrid at Conde Duque a year and a half ago to a sold out audience and a line around the block. It was an exhilarating experience.
6. How do you see the music scene in New York City changing post-gentrification? There’s a burgeoning rock scene in Brooklyn, and as a Brooklynite I’m wonder if that scene inspires you at all.
I see a lot of artists moving to Los Angeles because New York rents are so high. Actually the scene on the west coast has gotten more exciting because so many New Yorkers are moving there! But, there are still some of the most talented musicians in the world living here and Brooklyn is no exception. I’m always inspired by the people I see. Art has no rules and everyone has a different way of performing and making music. It’s what keeps things interesting.
7. Are there any particular brands you’re loyal to? I read you’re a fan of Zadig and Voltaire suits and Dior makeup.
Chanel has been a big supporter of mine. So has Ferragamo, Sandro, and Hermes. In my everyday life I’m mostly in jeans though!
8. Do you still like wearing suits onstage? Is your aesthetic shifting with your new sound?
I’m very loyal to my suits and I plan to keep on wearing them!
9. What can fans expect from you onstage this time around?
They can expect all of me on stage. I’ll be with my band playing songs from the new album and I can’t wait for people to hear it live.
10. Who are you listening to right now, and who would you say are your sonic inspirations?
Right now I’m listening to Aaron Lee Tasjan, Daniel Wilson, The Arctic Monkeys, Boney M, Caetano Veloso, Fiona Apple, and Emitt Rhodes and more. Sonic inspirations have been the likes of Tom Waits, Bessie Smith, Sarah Vaughn, Peggy Lee, Elvis Costello, Carol King, John Lennon, George Harrison, Kate Bush, Miles Davis, David Bowie, Marvin Gaye, Ottis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Dusty Springfield, and a whole lot more.
11. Do you have any stories from your childhood that you draw from? What was it like to grow up in Brooklyn and in New York City? How did that form you?
The exposure to art and culture in New York is maybe unparalleled. I think it definitely opened my eyes at an early age and helped encourage me to be myself and pursue a career as an artist. I wrote “Mary Janes” (on the new record) based on the shoes I wore as a little girl. I’d click my heals up and down the brooklyn sidewalk. I wanted to pay homage to my child self and where I came from. New York and Brooklyn is part of me and it’s always creeping into my work.