Born in London, and having lived in Venezuela, Boston and Lebanon, and now back in London, Sofia has had quite a unique musical upbringing. She has now recorded an inspired cover of Jessie J’s ‘Do It Like A Dude’, but it’s no ordinary cover…The video is shot in Lebanon where homosexuality is illegal, so as an out and proud LGBT artist, and considering the subject matter of the song, it turns out Sofia actually risked arrest by filming the video. Gigslutz are honoured to have the premiere of the video and were lucky enough to be able to chat to Sofia about inspiration, social change and Bryan Adams…
Jessie J’s ‘Do It Like A Dude’ is an empowering song for many different members of society. In which ways do you find yourself relating to its meaning?
I remember when I first heard the song, immediately I knew it was going to be a really important song for young women to listen to. The battle of the sexes and the history of women’s rights in the UK have always been something I’ve been interested in. The Suffragettes, Queen Elizabeth I, even the most recent film ‘Made In Dagenham’ are all examples of how British women have stood up for what is right. Jessie J’s song is another social statement that appeals to women who identify with a typically masculine associated trait: being strong.
Was the desire to strive towards positive social change a factor which led you to music, or did it blend in naturally with your skills as a musician?
Since I can remember, music has been a part of my life, before I could even know its true power. Ultimately, music is meant to bring people joy, the fact that it can also promote positive social change is just another one of the many joys it can bring.
How important do you feel music is as a political and social tool?
I think that music documents the times, what people are feeling and what they want to be heard. Songs are personal to writers, but it is inevitable that they fall into political and social categories for listeners. As far as how musicians manage to make a living for themselves, whatever the economic climate may be, is also an interesting reality for people to consider. The digital age of music most certainly has been a tool for people to watch and be a part of, and can – in fact – be political and social tools themselves.
The main motivation for the video was so you could record with your father. How supportive has he been with your career as an artist?
There have been so many musicians in my father’s family, most of them classical musicians. He started out playing the Violin quite intensively and then began teaching himself the electric guitar, which was rather a bold move. His stories of studying in America, whilst also considering being a full time musician himself, have always been a huge inspiration to me. The fact that I can even collaborate with him musically or have him offer up whatever riff he’s made up recently, is possibly the best kind of support I could ask for.
You’re half Lebanese and half Venezuelan, both of which are third world countries. Where were you raised and was there a culture shock when you went over to Boston to study?
I lived in Caracas, Venezuela until I was 5 years old, so actually my first language was Spanish. It was when I moved to London that I actually first dealt with culture shock. I went to the British School in Venezuela so I spoke English, but the lack of sunshine was rather disappointing. I lived in Boston and studied at Berklee College of Music for 4 years and I think that it’s actually quite comparable to London, except the mortifyingly cold winters. They’re both very historic, diverse and clean places.
It was a rather bold and brave decision to shoot the video in Lebanon, where homosexuality is illegal. Were you nervous at all over the prospect of facing arrest?
I’m not sure if I was unaware or in denial at the time, because I had never actually looked up laws on homosexuality in Lebanon, so I found this out conveniently on the drive up to the mountain to shoot the video. Growing up, I had learned that Beirut was often called the “Paris of The East”: that it was forward, and the people were intelligent, compassionate and talented. I had in fact experienced this first hand, visiting throughout my life. I suppose I could say I was nervous, but I was more honoured that I could share that moment with my Dad on a mountain in a place that most people haven’t heard of, but to me holds so much importance.
How difficult is it being a prominent voice for the LGBT community in Lebanon? In the same light, how difficult would it be for someone to ‘come out’ to their friends and family?
I think I was extremely lucky; I was in fact born in London so I am a UK citizen. I grew up with open minded families and friends, but I can’t deny that my cultural background didn’t complicate my journey to being alright with coming out. I know that Beirut and Caracas both have LGBT communities, they exist whether we acknowledge them or not. I don’t know if I’m a prominent voice for the LGBT community in Lebanon, but I know that I am a member of the community by default. If I can provide a voice for other young women like me to relate to and find comfort in, that’s all I can ask for.
And, finally… Desert Island Disc – what record could you not live without?
I always dread this question… but I’ll have to go with The Best Of Me: Greatest Hits by Bryan Adams.
Take an exclusive first look at Sofia’s inspired video for ‘Do It Like A Dude’ here:
Sofia will be beginning a UK tour next week, along with Siv Jakobsen, see all the details here