One of the things I admire most about women is how strong they can be. I enjoy reading about women’s successes; watching music documentaries of female artists; seeing the different actions they take to pursue their dreams; and how they eventually make them a reality. Sophie Strauss is a real live example of a powerful female singer-songwriter who has worked hard on pursuing her dream within the music industry. She’s been singing, performing, and making music for years now, and she’s recently released her new album, ‘Hard Study’. I had the opportunity to chat with Sophie a few weeks ago and attended her album release party this past Friday, where I got to see her perform a couple of her new songs.
I met Strauss at the Melrose Farmer’s Market a couple of Sundays ago, which I was really excited about since I had never been. As we got comfortable sitting in one of her favorite spots, she unwrapped her breakfast bagel–which looked amazing btw–and got ready to answer some questions. One of the things I always ask artists I interview is how they started; I like having a better visual about their background and why they decided to pursue this career.
“I’ve loved music since I was very little. I was doing shows for my parents… my dad plays guitar and a little bit of piano, so we used to sing together when I was little, and it was my favorite thing. Then I did some theater stuff, and I always liked writing, so when I was around 15 I thought about combining writing and music. When I was 16-17, it finally clicked. Once I figured out how to write a song, it was the best feeling ever. It was surprising that I didn’t know I wanted to do that,” shared Strauss.
And as she started getting more comfortable creating music, she got inspired by different things and situations. “I’ll be driving or walking around, and then I’ll think of some weird phrase and I’ll email it to myself to not forget it. They’ll usually stay in my inbox for months and then when I want to write something, I go and look at the inbox and see what I have and pull and use it as a starting point which usually inspires other stuff.”
Something I’ve always wondered is the process of creating a new song. How long does it usually take to create a song? “I’m usually impatient, so I often feel like it’s ready, and I want it to be ready. Sometimes I feel that makes me less meticulous than I should be about stuff, but I would say in terms of the writing process, there’s been times where there’s nothing, but then suddenly, I’ve created a song in 45 min. It varies; it can take a week, a month, it depends on the production. For the most part, I have a sense of what I want, but then sometimes they don’t work. That’s why I like working with other people, because you get pushed to try new things,” says Strauss.
She also released two new music videos, which are amazingly beautiful and both unique in their own way — very artsy.
“I made this video with my friend Greg Kasunich; he is a genius. He just knows how to make things happen on a budget. He’s super engaged and he’s a musician himself. He has a very intuitive understanding of what a music video needs to be. I find that sometimes, that people that are great filmmakers don’t know the purpose of a music video. He and I had talked about doing a video together, and he sort of came up with different ideas and proposals for what this video could be. He was thinking about pushing and pulling and support versus criticism or people wanting stuff from you, which is some of the underlines of the song. This is how he came up with the white milk bath, and I think he really did it in a way that I had never seen. He was playing with light and dark and sort of unanimity. He did such a great job of this sort of comfortable expiration of the human body.”
“‘Sweetboy’ I made with this amazing photographer-filmmaker named Hana Haley. I was always a big fan of hers. I had reached out to her to maybe do a photoshoot for press photos and stuff like that, but then she told me she also sometimes shot a little bit of video for her other clients that are musicians. So we were just going to do something for like a minute, that was going to be more of a visual, not a whole video. The video took like 1.5-2 hours to shoot. You feel so safe with her. I felt like I was with a girlfriend hanging out. But she’s also always thinking of what to get next; she’s so fast, she responds to you really well, which I think works with that video that’s suppose to be so intimate. You don’t even feel there’s another person there; she was really good for that.”
As I had mentioned previously, I got to see Strauss perform some of her new songs on Friday. The album release party was in a very intimate setting, in this amazing beautiful clothing store (Desperate Los Angeles) which had eclectic decor. My favorite song was definitely ‘Aphids,’ which turns out to be one of her favorite songs to perform. Its lyrics are simple yet shocking; you won’t be able to get this one out of your head.
“There’s no better feeling than like starting a show in a loud noisy room full of people talking and then perform a really quiet song, and have everybody suddenly get really quiet. It’s very validating. I love to sing ‘Aphids’ because I feel like I understand that song so clearly. I feel like there’s so many different ways to perform it that can always feel affective and true. It can be really big, aggressive, and poppy or be super quiet and like a solo,” says Strauss.
What are you most excited about your album release party? “There’s a song called ‘Joan of Arc’; I’m excited for people to hear that one. I think it’s very different from what I usually do. I’m excited to see how people respond to it. A friend–actually–my old boss, Adam Tyler was the producer on it, and he did the most insane and elaborate drum part on it, and it’s so different from what I would’ve done. I’m excited for people to hear that.”
Strauss did a great job being herself when performing at her party. She had mentioned that she was excited about having her party at her close friend’s clothing store, which made her feel at home.
Although Strauss is used to playing small shows, she dreams big and has some other venues in mind she’d love to perform in some day. “This is a big stretch, but it would be amazing to play at the Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theatre. Those are probably my favorite to go see people, because they’re big and grand, but it also feels intimate and you’re outside. Those would be awesome, but I also love the Largo. It’s really small; I feel like that’s way more possible. The Largo is way smaller, but more intimate, but a great historical LA constitution.”
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to Sophie Strauss’s music, be sure to check out her newest album, ‘Hard Study’, which is out now and available everywhere. I promise you won’t want to stop listening to it.