A change of scenery: Sophie Auster

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Photo by Maggie Friedman

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine’s Summer 2019 – Special Pop Edition

New York City singer-songwriter Sophie Auster has just dropped her third full-length album Next Time. Produced in Sweden by Tore Johansson, Next Time is also Auster’s first release with BMG.

Following a photo shoot at NOMO SoHo, Auster filled us in on her latest album and what it was like recording outside of North America for the first time.

What’s the story behind the album name?

So, before I recorded what is now out, I went and recorded a completely different record in New York with a different producer and completely different songs. Midway through that process, I had a bit of a freak-out. I realized that I wasn’t, I don’t know, being true to myself, or I kind of jumped the gun and started this process too quickly. So I actually put the kibosh on that project and went back to writing. Then later got connected with Tore Johansson who produced the album that is now out.

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I think most literally it could be taken that it really was like my second time around. You know I was going to do the record that I wanted to make, but I think also with what’s on the record, the kind of context of the record, it’s a lot about looking ahead to fix past mistakes and doing it again in a better way.

The album has a lot of late ‘60s, ‘70s kind of vibe to it. Where does that come from?

It’s kind of indicative of what I was listening to when I was a kid. I wanted to do something stylistically, not exactly like that, but kind of pay a bit of an homage to the people that I grew up listening to, specifically when I was really little when I was listening to a lot of songwriter women.

Was there any artist, in particular, you were paying homage to?

Well, I mean it was a whole kind of mixed bag of different kinds of people. But they’re important people. Like for me growing up, it was Roberta Flack, Carole King, Peggy Lee (she’s a little bit before), Joni Mitchell, Sarah Vaughan; all these kinds of women that I used to listen to over and over again. Then the Shirelles and the Ronettes were girl groups that I just adored when I was little.

So, this album was produced in Sweden, and it was your first time recording outside of North America. What was that like?

It was great. It was an amazing experience because now I think that I only want to record outside of my home. I’ve learned a lot from that process. What was so unique and special about recording in a completely foreign place was that we just focused on the record the whole time.

It was very concentrated: I would wake up, we’d record; before I went to sleep, we’d record. We ate all our meals together, and we hung out together. So, you know, the thing was very intense but very concentrated. Actually, it was very relaxed because that was all I was doing.

I think when I’ve recorded in New York, it’s a bit more hectic. You’re walking out of a studio maybe at two o’clock in the morning, then you’re taking the train back to your house, and then you’ve got all your logistical things at home waiting for you—bills and whatever. It’s taking a break from all of that.

Which is why I think it was very special and very cool. I hope to do it again—for the next time around. I think the idea of getting away is really nice. As an artist, it was kind of easy to express yourself without all that stuff in the back of your head. I think that it was a combination of Tore and I working very well together, and I felt that he understood what I was trying to do. So, that in itself kind of relaxed me. I’ve had obviously studio experience before, but I think this was the most relaxed environment so I could really let go and try things.

What was your favorite track to work on in this album?

I think my favorite track was “Tom Collins,” which is the last song on the album. I think it’s because that song took me a long time to write. I had abandoned it. I’d written verses and a pre-chorus, and I had no idea where it was supposed to go. Then while we were putting together the album, I just sat down, and I finished it. Then the production that we did it’s so cool, like James Bond, and it came together exactly the way that I wanted it to. So, I think having that song a bit dormant for so long, and then getting it finished very quickly and come together in a way that I had imagined, is probably the best thing you can hope for.

 

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Samantha Stevens has been singing along with the radio for as long as she can remember. Guided by a love for music, she spent the better part of her childhood performing in classical and contemporary choirs. But straight out of high school, she decided that she wanted to see the world, and so she did what any young adventurer would do…she joined the navy. An entire world of sounds, music, and stories opened up to her, and she found herself inspired by it all. In 2015, she retired from the Royal Canadian Navy after over a decade of service. Since then she has achieved a BA in literature, will soon have an MA in journalism, and is even a trained journalist and reporter. Currently living near Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Samantha has written for a wide variety of publications including Spill Magazine, Stereo Embers Magazine, and the North Bay Nugget. She still sings for the sheer joy of it.

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