Sophia Bastian’s love for the spotlight started at a young age as a classical ballerina. In her teens, the New Yorker switched to expressing herself through musical performance, and her singer-songwriter career has blossomed ever since (see her latest music videos here).
Harney & Sons had the chance to chat with Sophia about her passion for music, the inspiration behind her smooth, soulful songs, and her love for tea. We were also very excited to have her join us at our epic #ThisIsTea party this spring.
Get to know the insanely cool Sophia a little bit more below!
Harney: Why is music your passion?
Sophia: I’ve been in the performing arts pretty much all my life. It’s really always been my identity to be a performer. I would say it found me, before I was looking for a passion. Music gets in your head and in your body—it can change the way you think, make the hairs on your neck stand up. It changes your heartbeat. It’s my only form of expression and I feel so grateful to have it in my life.
Other than music, I’m very interested in law and I’m fascinated with psychology. I like to imagine I could become a decent lawyer (haha!)—a civil rights attorney, a litigator for sure. I would go intern with Sally Yates, let her show me the ropes, take notes on how to be dignified yet clear and unwavering. I'm a fan, man—her competence, her conviction, and her sense of duty, yet she comes across vulnerable and real. She's infectious! Her passion radiates. I hope my path in music can have a similar impact.
Harney: How did you get started as a singer/songwriter? What instruments can you play?
Sophia: I picked up the guitar as a kid and started playing around with chords searching for melodies. I would just sit there play around and wait for the words, chords, and melodies to collide. I had piano lessons as a kid but mostly write on guitar now.
Harney: How would you describe your music?
Sophia: Gangster Gospel is what I call it. It’s really a lack of a better way to describe a style that’s influenced by all kind of soul, blues, and hip-hop music. Gangster Gospel was just a studio joke initially but it stuck. It’s less of a style or genre description than a vibe.
Harney: Tell us more about the songwriting process.
Sophia: My writing is usually very emotionally driven. I write from personal experience. The process is usually less looking for inspiration but processing something that’s been brooding under the surface or really consuming me—either uplifting or depressing. I’m usually writing solo and then collaborate with music producers in the studio.
Harney: Who are your musical heroes? What songs do you have playing on repeat?
Sophia: I’m listening to a lot of James Blake right now, The Colour in Anything. And Stevie Wonder’s and Bill Wither's milestones, studying the Blueprints.
Harney: What’s your favorite song of your own and why?
Sophia: Oh, that's a tough question ... I couldn’t really pick one. However, I'm so taken by how people have been connecting to ‘Rhythm To My Heart’ so that makes it my current favourite! Also, I really love performing this one.
Harney: What do you hope other people feel/take away from your music?
Sophia: I get all kinds of sweet messages of how my music affects them. It’s really humbling, really moving! Some people write that they have a song on repeat. And since I know how much I have to be into a track to have it on repeat, it's crazy to hear people would do that with a track of mine! I think the fact that they enjoy it and connect with it is really fortunate.
To be honest I don't explore so much what people take away from my music because I don’t think that type of inquiry is productive to my writing process. It's more like, “They either take something away or they don't.” I wouldn’t want to try and get in people’s head or vice versa. As a matter of fact, I need to get out of my own head.
Harney: What does tea do for you?
Sophia: To me, tea feels like warm, liquid meditation. I guess it starts with the scent and then the fact that you have to slow down to drink it. Tea automatically gives you a calming, soothing feeling—that silent content and gentle focus.
I would say deciding on tea also sets a certain tone when in company. It communicates some sort of understanding as well. I feel like there is a similar communication between tea drinkers as there is between people going out to smoke together. At the moment my favourite Harney tea is ginger peach.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us and share your story, Sophia! To learn more about her music and follow her journey, visit her Facebook page. All photography in this post has been provided by Sophia. Follow her on Instagram at @sophiabastian.