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Sophie B Hawkins Interview


Sophie B Hawkins

Sophie B Hawkins

Working with the Berman Brothers and Junior Vasquez are just a few signs that Sophie B. Hawkins has opened her eyes to dance music. You may know her for the hit singles "Now I Lay Me Down" and "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover," but she is more than just a pop singer. Her love of instrumentation and personal songwriting may just create some of the most moving electronic music you will hear this year.

DJ Ron Slomowicz: First, let's talk about this new album, it's a good album, it's totally independent. How did you come about making this album outside the traditional label system?
Sophie B Hawkins: It was beautiful not to be signed to any labels in the making of this whole record. At some point I thought, you know, when I'm done with the record I'm going to want to be shopping it to a label. I had done the third record, Timbre and I had taken that back from Sony. I got my masters back which was fabulous and unprecedented and re-released it with new songs, with Rykodisc and my imprint. That was the first step into the water of being very, very independent, touring my ass off and getting to see what it was like to run without a label. Then by this fourth album, I was done with Ryko, luckily that was a one-album deal. This was a great time in my life where I was making one-album deals, getting masters back and really knowing that I was setting myself up for as a complete independent, if that's what I would have wanted. Then by the time I was writing the songs for this album, Wilderness, I had this really lovely feeling that it was like before I was every signed to Sony. It was like being a kid again, it was just being in my own vibe in my own neighborhood, writing about relationships, not feeling like I had to write a hit, not feeling like I had to write anything in particular. I was exploring and being happy with music. That's the aura under which I wrote all these songs and recorded them. Then when I had enough of them together, I started to feel well, maybe I should shop it to a label. Shopping it to labels was great because I got good feedback. But the deals were not what I wanted, so I decided to release it myself because I thought I could do better on my own because no one's going to stop me at a certain point and say you're single's not performing well enough, we're pulling it out or whatever, you know, whatever reason.

RS: ...that bullshit they throw at you.
Sophie: Yes, and with all respect for labels, because I don't known what it would be like for me to have another artist on my label if their stuff wasn't performing that well. I know what I'm like and that's the good thing. I know the markets I wanted to venture into and what I couldn't venture into. I knew that I wanted to try triple A radio for instance, and this is working really well, and that was something the label would never have wanted me to do because I don't have any history there. In fact I have history only at AC and if you're somewhat successful like I am, then you can't be on triple A. So now I'm actually on both at the same moment. I'm number one most added on AC radio, which is amazing for an independent, I don't think it's ever happened the first week out. I'm also doing very well on triple A, so I'm on two formats with two different songs, and I don't think I could have done this on a label. Because a big label would have said, two formats, are you crazy, what are you doing? But to me it makes sense.

RS: Well, it's all about setting up the album. I mean, let's go back. Do you have any positive memories or experiences with the major label?
Sophie: Oh so many, I mean I miss a lot of it. What do I miss? I miss Europe. Sony Europe was fantastic, they were so creative and they all were in love with music and so appreciative when the artist could give them a couple of months of touring in Europe, because usually it's all America, America. I love Europe so I was very giving and very in love with them and with Europe, and so I have absolutely fantastic memories of that.

In the beginning I think I was just too scared. In the very beginning when Sony really loved me and Sony signed me, I don't think I could take much in because I was just too scared, because it was too big. They were competing with seven labels to get me. So I thought, somewhere along the line this is going to fall apart because I'm not that kind of an artist. They're going to find out that I'm not fame-oriented, and I'll try to be. I tried to be as much as I could what I thought that I needed to be and it was never right as I always ended up doing the wrong thing.

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