BY NATASIA LANGFELDER
London based singer-songwriter Sofia B is set to be the next big thing. The 24 year old is hitting the music scene hard with her soulful lyrics and catchy melodies. She’s also a queer heartthrob, known for her music as well as her friendships with androgynous model ‘It’ girls like Harmony Boucher and Lillie Rage. But don’t let her good looks and bravado fool you, there’s more to Sofia B than that. Sofia has bravely come out about her battle with chronic illness – her passion to bring awareness to Crohn’s disease is palpable and infectious. I sat down with Sofia B to talk about heartbreak, family, models, date nights, embarrassing moments and more.
What was your creative process for your latest EP, “In the City”?
It all started when I was living and working in NYC and had gone through a pretty horrendous breakup. For me it always starts with a lyric, story or emotion and then I start improvising over chords until I find something that sticks. Some of the songs I wrote to and from work, mostly writing lyrics on my phone and then recording videos of myself, so I wouldn’t forget what I came up with!
Who was the inspiration for your first single from the EP, “Ice Cold Love”
My last girlfriend was the inspiration for “Ice Cold Love.” She is actually a native New Yorker and I moved to NYC after graduating from Berklee College of Music, partially to be with her but also to pursue my career. We broke up only a few months after I had moved and then I had to face the brutal NYC winter all on my own, which is where the song came from!
Tell me more about your second single from the EP, “Soldiers.” What inspired it?
My best friend and fellow Crohn’s buddy, Avery Nejam aka The Candid Observer, was checking in on me one day at work while I was still in NYC. I told her hard I was finding it to cope with the severe cold and my Crohn’s, so she flat out convinced me to book a flight to New Orleans and just take a mental health trip together. It genuinely was one of the most incredible trips of my life, we went everywhere, tried everything, met some amazing Thai girls who were working at the beignet place, ‘Cafe Du Monde,” and they ended up following us everywhere and becoming life-long friends! Anyways, only me and Avery knew how sick we were or how hard it is for us to fight this disease, which is where the idea of being soldiers comes from, as well as the fact that we both happen to be half Lebanese!
Very few musicians and entertainers are open about chronic illness. Why did you decide to ‘come out’ about your Crohn’s disease? How do you think your journey can help others?
If I’m really honest with myself, I think it’s because of Avery. I could try and explain the extent of her struggles but honestly to this day I still find it hard to comprehend the severity of her situation. We were diagnosed around the same time in Boston, where we met. The only difference was that she had been dairy, gluten and just about everything intolerant and had never smoked or drank. Me on the other hand, I’d been smoking cigarettes for a while, drinking casually and McDonald’s and I were certainly no strangers!
Yet, this made no difference, she ended up losing her colon and I ended up with three blood clots in my spleen (which they saved) and eventually remission for my Crohn’s. Avery is an inspiration, she fights religiously for her life yet she still makes time to check in on me. I hope that my journey and my songs will allow other Crohn’s sufferers to feel like I’m here for them and have made time for them.
How does your Lebanese and Venezuelan background influence your music?
My Father is Lebanese, and he is where I like to think I get my musical skills from, because he is the best guitarist I know. He is actually playing on “Ice Cold Love,” which was recorded in Beirut where he lives. I decided to bring the record to him, because I didn’t want to lose out on the opportunity of recording with my Dad. My Mother, who is Venezuelan, is a jeweler and isn’t exactly musically inclined, but she has been my number one supporter my whole life. Whether she was taking me to singing, ballet, violin or maths (I was truly rubbish!) lessons, she always made sure to make me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I think my Venezuelan side is where I get my drive and motivation from!
What is the overall message that you want your fans to take away from “In the City”?
Heartbreak and city life have never been good company, this record pretty much captures my healing process, which, yes I did actually manage to do. It’s really easy to think that you’ll never recover from a breakup or heartache when you’re living in a busy city or have a hectic job or just generally have a lot going on. But that’s the amazing thing about us creatures, we heal until we die.
Your music has been compared to Tegan & Sara, Ellie Goulding and Ingrid Michelson. Who are your music idols?
Fleetwood Mac, The Weepies, Eliot Sumner, Beyoncé and I mean Justin Bieber’s alriggghhhhhhhhttttt 😉
You’re rumored to be friends with models Lillie Rage and Harmony Boucher. What do musicians and models do for fun?
I’ve never been a model before really, especially because I’m quite short, but my idea of fun is a night out of dancing with friends, recording or writing a new song, cooking a meal for someone and attending concerts, fashion shows, galleries and all of that fun stuff! But if I’m very honest, I’m quite a homebody especially with my Crohn’s Disease, so a lot of the time, a night in watching ‘House’ really is like heaven for me!
What was your most embarrassing “on stage” moment? How did you recover?
The first time I ever performed a song I had written was when I was 18 and was due for my Berklee College of Music audition in a few weeks. Like a total nimbus, I decided to go to an open mic night in London and drink a beer right before I went on… Anyways, I started to play the first few chords and next thing I know I had forgotten my lyrics… I ran off stage grabbed my phone looked up the first line and went right back up and I finished the song. I was sweating and all red after, but a bunch of people came up to me after and said how much they loved my song, especially because it was written about my music teacher at the time.
What does your perfect date night look like?
The perfect date nights are the ones that are spontaneous, when you decide to just say hey, lets do something! There really isn’t anything much more romantic than walking around (weather permitting!) with the person you love with them as your only destination in mind.