Interview with SOPHIA KNAPP [English Version]
Sophia Knapp defines her music as “Piscean Pop”. It may not be a coincidence that the release date of her album, “Into The Waves” has been on February, the 28th… a Pisces release date. The other nice coincidence is that both the interviewer and the interviewed… we’re both Pisces (Sophia was born on March, 8th, me, the day after.)
This is a “Piscean interview”: have a nice swim through the lines. You’ll find a lovely surprise at the end of it.
Hi Sophia, please introduce yourself to Indie For Bunnies!
Hello Indie For Bunnies! I’m Sophia.
So… this is not exactly your first record, but it’s more precisely your first solo debut one. Tell us, how have you lived the process of becoming a solo artist after being in a band(s)? Is it like the cut of an umbilical cord or something like that?
Making a solo record was a natural event for me, as I had been working on many of the songs while I was playing with Cliffie Swan and Lights and a collection amassed. The songs on “Into The Waves” needed a different treatment, less rock ‘n’ roll, which is why the projects evolved parallel. I still collaborate with many musicians though, so I don’t feel lonely. Unless you’re living on an island and singing to coconuts, being a solo artist means working with lots of people.
You define your music as ‘Piscean Pop’. I’d love to let you explain it to our readers…
What I mean by ‘Piscean Pop’ is that the themes I write about are emotional and deal with subconscious imagery, as opposed to maybe things that are in front of you that you can touch.
What’s the genesis of “Into The Waves” ? How did the record develop through the time?
The songs that make up Into The Waves were written over a period of two years, in quiet moments when I was alone. Some songs were written on acoustic guitar, others on piano. These songs spread like moss from the little cracks of solitude I had in my days of living with lots of roommates and playing in Lights and Cliffie Swan.
I had arrangements in my head, which I would imagine when I played the songs. I wanted to translate these parts to the recording, and this called for collaborators. Eric Gorman and Jay Israelson, who co-produced the album and also play live with me, were crucial in the development of the sound. They understood creatively but also emotionally what the vision was and helped me through their fine musicianship to make the sound expansive. Eric has a deep understanding of pop music, and fine attention to detail. Jay is world class piano player, and composes music for movies so he feels the imagery in the songs and can respond to that in a sensitive way.
We took a long time playing with arrangements – performing the songs live together to see how the parts worked, and experimenting with acoustic vs. electronic sounds. That was a theme in the creation the album, balancing new and old technology to get different sonic colors.
“Spiderweb” and “Weeping Willow” are the two duets with Bill Callahan on the tracklist of “Into the Waves”. My intuition is that those duets have been almost like a natural consequence, since you’ve been touring the Europe and U.S. together last year, and you’re two Drag City artists too… How this collaboration was born?
We met on tour, when I was in Lights. It’s a real gift to discuss music with Bill, and to sing with him. He inspires me.
I’ve learned a lot from seeing him perform on tour, how focused he is, how he paces himself.
While I was looking for a nice pic for the interview, I’ve found this other cute image on your Facebook page http://tinyurl.com/7xaucur Seems that you’ve been always into music… Most of the girls and the boys start playing with a garage band “only” during adolescence! What are the memories that this photograph recall to you?
It reminds me of how much fun I had playing with my neighbors. There were a gang of us kids, and we were outside a lot. We put on puppet shows, got in trouble for throwing water balloons at strangers, things like that. I’m really lucky that my parents allowed me to be a wild kid. I made plenty of music and messes, and wore costumes most of the time, costumes and disgusting sweatshirts.
You’re a Pisces and a lover of the Zodiac. Do you like synastries? I’ve always thought that the perfect mate-sign for a Pisces could be a Capricorn… They appear as mysterious ones, self controlled, and they’re really realistic people. Which could be, in your opinion, the perfect synastris?
I do like synastries. The more I learn about astrology the more interested I become in the whole system. It’s hard to say what the perfect match would be for a Pisces, depends on the rest of the person’s chart! It is helpful for water signs to have a partner with earth in their chart. Earth and water combine well, they enhance each other’s qualities. I have many lovely Libras in my life, and collaborate often with Geminis. Two of my best girlfriends are Scorpios, they can relate to Pisces’ mood swings. Ha.
You’ve covered the song “As The World Falls Down” with Lights for the album “We Were So Turned On: A Tribute To David Bowie. Whats’ your favorite phase of his career? I go mad for the glam period…
I love the way Bowie’s voice sounds on “Scary Monsters” and “Super Creeps” in ’81. It’s so agile. I’m also a fan of “Halloween Jack” from “Diamond Dogs” in ’74. Halloween is my favorite holiday and I like the apocalyptic urban setting of that record.
Tarots are definitely a source of inspiration for you… You’ve defined them as one of your “guiding stars” with ancient Egypt, Kate Bush, David Hockney’s drawings, New York and much more… Which is that card that represents you well? Why?
I often come up in readings as the Queen of Wands. I’m intense! And l like a good party.
Do you believe in destiny? How do you handle it? Try to fight it or do you swim into it?
I believe destiny and free will are playing tug of war at all times. I think everyone is born with talents that need to be expressed, but that we also make choices in life to work with or against outside forces in our surroundings. We make so many decisions, little and big every day and those have a ripple effect out in the world which in turn affects our experience.
I do my best to listen to my intuition and notice the changes happening around me and respond.
Thank you so much for this interview, Sophia! Imagine this webzine as a wall: what would you draw on it as a message to our readers?
Thank you Maria!
Here’s a watercolor sketch I did this morning of what’s outside my window.
The rainbow blobs are houses and there’s a cypress and a fir tree. It’s a nice day over here so I’m sending everyone some sun.