Sophie Castriota Interview

by the partae
Sophie Castriota

Where are you currently based?

I’m currently based in Brisbane, Australia

How did you first start playing music?

I started playing violin when I was 4 years old… It’s always been a passion of mine.

I was part of many orchestra’s and ensembles growing up.

I had been told by various influential people that I would end up as a concert violinist, but that direction changed when I started improvising and experimenting with music; and that’s when I realised I had an interest in Middle Eastern and Balkan sounds.

My singing came later on… I was actually embarrassed to sing in front of people for a long period of time … I truly didn’t think I could sing.

When I turned 18, I took an interest in song writing and music production and that’s kind of where it all began.

What have you been working on recently?

I’ve just released my new song called “Tøngue Tied” which came out on the 21st of April.

I’m now preparing for my next release which comes out this month on the 20th called “Not My Vibe”; – so stayed tuned for that!

Your new single ‘Tongue Tied’ is out now, what influenced the sound and song writing? How did you go about writing Tongue Tied?

Using my emotional pain and turning that into my art is kind of my escape and how I deal with things… It’s actually very therapeutic.

I feel a lot and I am very in touch with my emotions… when I feel, I write.

In the past I’ve allowed certain toxic behaviour from others to control me emotionally to some degree…

I never felt like I was fully in control of my emotions, but rather allowed people to treat me the way they wanted to, just to keep the peace.

I’m a very empathetic person… It’s my nature… in the past I would always try to please everyone before pleasing myself… and that would often be to the wrong people.

Writing Tøngue Tied was about me re-gaining my power and self-worth, as well as my healing process and journey.

Where and when did you record/produce? Who did you work with during recording/producing? Who did you work with during recording/producing?

My producer and close friend Brandon Jonak really helped me overcome a lot of insecurities and allowed me to express myself artistically.

I’ve worked with a number of producers in the past who have been controlling in some form or other – whether that be related to lyrics or melodies or whatever.

I remember I worked with one producer who constantly berated me… they would say things like “oh that was sh*t” or “why would you do that, that was absolute rubbish”- things that would really crush me as a song writer and artist. I ended up hating writing with this person as it was always about what they approved or didn’t and there was no sort of ‘collaboration’ between us but was all one sided.

When I first worked with Brandon, he sent me home with this random beat he had made 5 minutes before and said, “Do whatever you feel sounds good, then send it back when you finish”.

I remember ringing him literally the day after and was so anxious as to whether he was going to like it or complain about something and make me change it… I remember the first thing he said was “wow this is amazing Sophie…So this is the way we are going to work – I’ll do my thing, you do yours, no pressure, no stress, our creativity combined!”

From that moment on, I felt comfortable and able to really challenge myself and had finally the freedom to really create music that I loved.

Anyone who’s been in similar situations knows how important it is to have good dynamics between yourself and your collaborators.

Please tell us about how losing your hearing has affected you and how you are dealing with it:

Waking up one morning and completely losing your hearing in one ear without any previous health issues doesn’t really seem possible… but it happened, and I’m left with a completely and permanently deaf ear.

I didn’t think I would be able to continue music and there were a lot of obstacles I had to face.

A whole year later and it is what it is. I’ve come such a long way to heal and to accept what happened.

My whole lifestyle has changed because of this but it’s only given me more desire to want to help others.

Having a disability isn’t just about the physical aspect.

There’s the anxiety and depression to deal with, bullying, acceptance, rejection and much misunderstanding from people… it’s real and I’ve experienced it.

Because of my suffering, I feel I need to be a voice for those who are also experiencing and struggling with disabilities… and that is exactly what I’m going to do.

Who are you listening to at the moment? 

At the moment I’m listening to a lot of house remixes. I go through weird stages where I’ll listen to a specific genre for a period of time and then get bored and go to another completely random genre.

Who or what influences your sound?

Jhene Aiko has been a massive influence. Her music, her lyrics, her persona, has helped me a lot in my personal growth.

She’s an artist I truly admire.

Doja Cat has influenced the Urban/Hip-hop sound that I’m now incorporating into my music.

What do you like to do away from music?

When I’m not doing music, I’m painting, I’m drawing, I’m learning a language. I’m a creative. I also have ADHD, so my mind constantly wanders, and I get more easily distracted than most, so I need to be doing something at all times.

Please tell us about your experience being an Australian with an Albanian Royal connection:

My family found out we were bloodline descendants of Albania’s national hero “Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg”, who is my 14th generation great grandfather, back in around 2011.

The importance of what this man stood for and his legacy didn’t really resonate with me at the time…I was growing up far from Europe, so culturally I was a bit naïve to say the least.

Now as time has passed and having visited Europe several times, I understand his role in European and Balkan history – I am incredibly proud and in awe of his achievements.

I’m so lucky to share his blood and I feel it’s my duty now, with my platform to really spread the word as to what a great man he was.

What’s planned for 2020?

Unfortunately, Covid-19 has really put a stop to a lot of things this year for me. I was planning to tour around Europe and perform at various places.

Right now, I’m continuing to write and produce more songs and see where life takes me.

Favourite food and place to hangout?

Vietnamese food… Hands down. Place to hang would probably be in the studio.

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