If there is one distinctive feature that binds renowned artists worldwide, it would be their dominant urge to convey inner emotions. Success? Money? Prestige? Yes please! But only if they come as a bonus. The urge to touch, inspire and bring emotions to life is the main drive. This certainly applies to the Dutch-Lebanese singer, performer and songwriter Sophia. Her striking debut single Daydream is a harbinger, the EP that follows will underline it; Sophia is a quirky talent, in it for the long run.
Effortlessly balancing on the musical tightrope between pop and R&B, Sophia displays her talent in a confident and mature way that suggests a long musical career. But the young singer only just graduated from the Rotterdam Conservatory. Her musical and personal development in the years before she started her study have left their marks and resonate within her music. As her parents travelled from country to country, Sophia was brought up in a nomadic lifestyle. Her name is therefore very consciously chosen by her parents; it is pronounced the same worldwide. When she was five, she and her mother ended the traveling and settled permanently in The Netherlands. To call it a culture shock is an understatement. “The period in my life following that move certainly was not easy. What lasted from that period is the constant urge to prove myself”, says Sophia. “Music has always been a wonderful means of expression for me. By creating music myself and totally immersing myself into the songs I was creating, I have experienced my first moments of happiness.”
Musically Sophia can be hard to pin down. The combination of classical and jazz has started her love for music. Add a decent dose of 90s R&B from her youth, throw in contemporary production techniques and it will somewhat paint the picture. Sophia’s sound is eclectic, original and unique. Danceable and dreamy, atmospheric but with a dark edge, and on top of it all her distinctive, instantly recognizable, powerful and emotional voice.
Sophia hides her talent in a wall of sound though, at the heart of it all she delivers proper songs. While composing, Sophia brings them to life on the piano. When the songs are brought to the stage, they are set free and they can fly in all directions. “Music lives and breathes. As far as I am concerned, it has no definitive form. The songs I record sound different when I perform them on stage with my five-piece band. I tell stories. These have to find their way into the hearts of the listeners as well, so you constantly have to move with the feelings you want to convey.”
Sophia takes this process very seriously. Every time she performs, she draws deep emotions from both her music and from the reaction of the audience. “Hopefully I’m able to give the audience something with my music. At the same time they always give something back, be it a listening ear or maybe just the confirmation that they are touched by what happens on stage. Every performance is an intense and extremely personal experience. I cry almost every show. Not of sadness, just pure emotion being released by the power of music and the realization that people in the room are ready to hear what I have to say.”
Still at the beginning of her journey, Sophia realizes that the path she has chosen for herself is not the easiest. The music industry is hard, the work is hard and she will have to fall multiple times and get back on her feet again. But over the years she has proven she can do just that. She is ready. For 2018 multiple shows in The Netherlands are planned. In addition to the debut single Daydream, an EP will be released later this year with its own material. The end game? “I want to win Grammy. Ambitious? Yes! I have set the bar high. I am an artist with a story to tell and I tell it exactly the way that it is in my head. If I reach an audience of a hundred, that is fantastic. Thousands? Even better. If there are more, I will consider myself very lucky. But I won’t be making any concessions. Packed venues would mean nothing to me if I cannot be myself on stage.”