We’ve seen before that being awarded a ‘BBC Introducing hot tip’ isn’t always a mark of guaranteed success. A little like a football team scoring early, an accolade arriving early into a musician’s career can often bring more pressure than was needed; whereas the musician was initially free to explore their identity without worry, now it can often feel like they have something to lose.
Rising to the challenge brought on by peer and commercial pressure, Sophia, tipped as one to watch for 2021 by BBC Introducing in the North-East sees off all potential pitfalls with the sparkling coming-of-age debut EP ‘Hometown’ on 29th October. Leading off with folky single ‘Hometown’ (“I carried that song with me for a number of years”), Hometown (the EP) is a collection of honest, often heart-breaking (see ‘Scene from a film’), pieces of music that pays no respect to any playing-it-safe impulses.
“The EP’s a real push for me” confirms Sophia when explaining her creative process for ‘Hometown’, “I’m trying to be really honest with the record and am trying to not hold anything back. Sometimes in life I feel like I try to put a ribbon on things, but I wanted these songs, and these stories, to be very very honest, very personal and very truthful”.
Picked up over six folk/pop tracks, Hometown not only tells the artistic truth of Sophia, but it also pushes her into new sounds and new creative ventures; “I wrote four songs with Eddie Scott (Picnic / Write Your Song) which was a new experience for me, and in some ways felt a little like therapy, we’d sit and talk about situations and then slowly once we had a theme we might stop and I’d come up with the lyrics and then bring them back and we’d shape the songs more. I wanted to work on the lyrics alone in most cases though as I felt like I needed to do that my myself”.
Picking up the final tracks another ace-in-the-sleeve (and protector against all ‘hot tip curses’) was producer Alfie Cattell (Moodbay), who brought extra support to the project (“I worked with Alfie to explain the sound I was going for and I totally believed in his judgement which helps because when the songs are personal to you, and you’re trying to be honest, it can be hard to distance yourself from what you’ve written”).
Taking the EP out on the road is the next step for Sophia, with a headline show at Newcastle’s Little Buildings on Friday 19th November being an immediate highlight; “Eddie’s going to be playing guitar and we have live bass and drums as well so once we start rehearsing we’ll have a better idea of what we’ll be playing at the launch and how we will approach our live shows”.
Honest, and looking for the type of creative growth that can spur creative growth, Sophia might well be picking up other awards in the future. Pressure? Not for this musician.