This time, we get to know Sophie Janna. Her track "Nightfall" is featured in the New Artist Spotlight Family of Playlists.
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𝟭. Where are you from and what is your hobby?
I grew up in the Netherlands in a musical family: my mother used to perform with her brothers and sisters, and taught me and my siblings to sing in harmony from an early age. I started performing solo when I lived in Edinburgh in Scotland. I've got too many hobbies to write them all here! Perhaps baking is my favourite one; it calms me down when I'm stressed and it gives me a sense of accomplishment if it feels like I didn't do anything with my day. And the end result is far tastier than anything you can get at the supermarket. Win-win-win!
𝟮. How did your get into music?
It was inevitable with the childhood I had. But then I need a reason that I started performing professionally while my siblings didn't. Perhaps it's because as a child my voice was the highest, which meant that I would get all the solos in the choir. I think I got addicted to the praise and I just had to get more ;) But when I got older I really disliked that thin, high tone I had and I had to work hard to find more depth in my voice, trying to reach a whole room without a microphone. I learned how to use my voice differently at the traditional music session in Mulligans in Amsterdam, where everyone sings and plays without amplification. Mulligans was also the place where I found other musicians who asked me to play concerts with them, which turned into tours, which turned into having to quit my day job.
𝟯. Who are your biggest influences?
I think everyone I meet at traditional music sessions, and everyone I play with, is an influence. People who sing and play music like they mean it, without attempting to mimic anyone, just playing the songs that are in their hearts and trying to do those songs justice. Irish songwriter Luka Bloom is one of those people I met at a session and I love the way he sings and gives meaning to the songs. Anaïs Mitchell and Aoife O'Donovan are two other songwriters who inspire me in the way they play their songs - and in their songwriting as well.
4. What are your goals in the music industry?
My biggest goal is to reach an audience big enough for me to make my music career sustainable. Find people who genuinely love my music and art and would cheer me on in making more. It would also help immensely if I got a bit more well-known, so that the venues I would play at would fill up without having to do a lot of PR!
5. If you could choose a location to perform at, what would it be?
The middle of the forest! I love having the birds add harmonies to my songs, and I love the way the wind can rustle through the leaves, adding a hum. The whole atmosphere in a forest is so calm and I think it would make for a magical experience. My favourite performances so far have been at Tandem Festival near Oxford; the organization of that festival does an amazing job in creating exactly that vibe, and there is always a stage in the woods somewhere... oh I wish I was there now!
6. What is your all-time favorite song?
Everywhere - Fleetwood Mac. Just magic.
7. Most embarrassing moment?
I forgot the way I play one of my songs and had to start over again three times to find the rhythm back - and I still didn't find it. Then I was too embarrassed to admit it and I played the whole song with a strange rhythm that just didn't fit. I should have just stopped and play a different song!
8. Proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is making it to the finals of the Amsterdam songwriting competition Mooie Noten! I had never imagined I would get there, playing on an immense stage at the Vondelpark in Amsterdam. It was absolutely incredible to see all my friends and family, ex-colleagues, my yoga teacher, even my therapist sitting in the audience!
9. What is something about you that might surprise someone who knows you the best?
Hmm - I'm really open and I struggle to think about something that I haven't shared with people around me yet. I do know that people are often surprised when I talk about how much I can struggle with 'life' - I despair easily and I feel a lot, which gets me angry with myself for being 'too sensitive'. Sometimes even the thought that a day ends and will never come back can make me cry. Or the thought that my childhood days will never return. I can still cry thinking about a break-up from 10 years ago. When I think about it for too long, it can hurt almost as much as on the day that it happened. And I often feel bad about myself for not being more social, for needing alone time. I think that might surprise a lot of people, because people generally see me as a cheerful person.
𝟭𝟬. What is your dream collaboration?
Singing harmonies with Aoife O'Donovan, Bon Iver, Anaïs Mitchell or Bonnie 'Prince' Billy would be absolutely incredible! All of them have a unique voice but can blend so well with another person's vocals - I imagine that they would do that without thinking. I would absolutely love to sing in harmony with one or all of them we could create magic together.
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