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It was a humid June evening teetering on the edge of rainfall that I first met singer/songwriter Sophie Stevens for what was intended to be an interview for a piece about the space she writes her music in. As we sat and talked, the flower of this artist's mind blossomed to explain the method behind her songwriting.
Playing piano from the age of 10 and guitar for the last five or so years, Sophie has been something of a musician for much of her life. The leap to writing her own songs was first made last summer after attending Shine On music festival. It was there she first had the realization that music is a viable avenue to steer her life into. Until that festival, where she encountered local artists who helped to inspire her, she had never considered music as something she could actually focus her time and energy on with real fervour.
“You know,” she went on to tell me,” you can have big dreams, but most of the time Good Old Capitalism kind of [says] Nope, your dreams aren’t going to happen.”
Since taking time away from her studies to pursue this idea that was once only a dream, Sophie found the move to songwriting to be comfortable and resoundingly positive. She recognizes, too, that there now exists the potential for her to begin resenting the music process due to the fact that she has now made it her primary duty. Thus far her shimmering optimism prevails and her love for music and songwriting remain unwavering.
Something Sophie has come to find is that the songwriting process is very much a skill. This skill, as is the case with any other, requires dedication, time, and focus. Sometimes she will be struck with a bolt of inspiration straight from “the heart, or the soul, or wherever it is that music comes from.” Other times she’ll sit down with her guitar or piano to create music and lyrics off the top of her head. Regardless of whether or not inspiration strikes, Sophie is continually working to practice and improve her songwriting.
One aspect that helps her to draw the motivation to regularly sit down and work on her music is the obligation she’s created for herself to post a video of a song -one she’s written or otherwise- to her Facebook page on a weekly basis. She uses this self-imposed contract as motivation to sit down and dive into the thoughts that come dancing through her mind to one melody or another. Typically she’ll find the time to sit down and work on a song when she has a melody or a chord progression that she’s particularly fond of.
As is the case with any poet, Sophie acts as a biographer of life’s glory and pain, continually on the prowl for a new way to project what can either be a euphoric dance or a sordid trudge through this world. Sometimes she’ll write on the bus while other times her writing comes from being in the throes of a “good old emotional breakdown” in which she’ll think “oh, those are some sweet lyrics right there.”
One particular attribute of songwriting Sophie has the greatest appreciation for is the aspect of having the attention of the crowd. Whether or not the listener wants to hear the words that are being sung is secondary to the reality that they are listening to the music Sophie has written. “I find that conversationally people aren’t always listening,” she explained to me some two months later, in the basement of someplace with a pinball machine drawn from the background of a Stranger Things episode. “I find that most times people are just waiting to say what they’re going to say next.”
Moving forward, Sophie hopes to be able to compile the work she’s created to release an album. She has taken to performing with full bands with interchanging people and instruments which is a step in a new direction creatively as her performances have until now been primarily by herself on the piano or with an acoustic guitar. “It’s really cool to be able to write songs by myself but to be able to collaborate with people and hear what they have to say about my music, or their music. It’s just a lot of fun.”
A smidgen over a year ago Sophie took to this project with the hope of making the most of her greatest passion. Today, as she continues to write and perform, meet new musicians, and expand her artistic horizons, Sophie Stevens has turned her dream into a plan, and each day that plan comes closer to becoming a reality.
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