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Sophie Mashlan - Interview with Sophie Mashlan

22 Apr 2019 // An interview by Steve Shyu

19-year-old Sophie Mashlan's incredible debut album Perfect Disaster is about to be released with Sophie heading out on a 9-date tour around the country starting in Auckland on 23 April and finishing up in Dunedin on 19 May.

Paul T Gheist from Muzic.net.nz had a chance to ask Sophie a few questions - here's what she had to say:

First round’s on me – What’ll you be having?

A mojito!

You’ve performed live on bFM and Radio New Zealand, opened for Donavon Frankenreiter and Vance Joy and countless shows – What set you off? How did all of this get started?

Honestly, I'm not quite sure, I just started putting on my own shows and organising tours and the interest kinda sparked from there. I could go back through every step to figure it out, but it would take far too long and it's not that interesting.

Care to run us through your songwriting process? What goes into a Sophie Mashlan tune?

I usually start with a guitar idea, like the guitar part that will come predominantly into the song (17 days for example) and then start writing melodies and the lyrics come last. Sometimes lyrics come first though. But not often, since I need to understand what the song is musically about before I can consider what it's going to be about.

Name five of your biggest musical influences.

Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Sia, Regina Spektor

In your opinion, what is it that makes a piece of music great?

It's the ability to give a different meaning to everyone who listens to it and to be relevant to future generations.

You’ve said before that your songs are based on feelings and experiences; what else inspires you to write?

The constant fear of growing old without achieving my goals. But no, seriously, I've only written like two songs that weren't about something I've gone through or felt. I feel like they wouldn't sound convincing coming from me if I don't have a connection to my own music.

Which of your performances to date is your most memorable?

I love every performance I do, but maybe the show with Vance Joy? That's a tough question.

What inspired you to write your debut single Let You Down?

It's about the weird way people treat their romantic partners these days. Like everyone is so obsessed with having the most Instagram worthy boyfriend or whatever that they get into these weird empty relationships. Like they don't have anything in common with their partner apart from both being attractive. Why do people do that? It's so weird. And these people, they're always trying to upgrade, or get with the next best thing, and it's all just so fake and can't truly be fulfilling. So, Let You Down was written from the perspective of one of these people, and the way it must feel to do that kind of thing.

The title of your upcoming debut album is Perfect Disaster – What’s the meaning behind the name?

Perfect Disaster is one of the songs off the album, and I feel like its sentiments sum up the experience of creating an album or just putting myself out there in general. I have horrible anxiety and it was really challenging for me to just get up and do this album. Especially without the validation of having a label or a management team to guide me, and without funding to support me. I was always questioning myself, thinking everything was wrong, wondering what the hell I'm doing... but it has been such an incredible learning experience I wouldn't change anything. I feel like that is what perfect disaster means to me, and I think the track is also a strong one, so it seemed fitting.

What changes in the New Zealand folk music scene do you hope to see in the next three to five years?

I mean, it's hard to say. I'm not really the purest form of folk, and I know it bothers the folk purists in the scene that I call myself that. So, I just hope in the next few years we can properly acknowledge that folk is constantly evolving and that it's more than having a fiddle in every song. It'd be cool to get more young people involved too, at the festivals, at the events, supporting the great music coming out of the scene. My friend Finn McLennan-Elliott is leading this kind of change I think, he's heavily involved in the Auckland Folk Festival and the scene in general and over the past few years, he's been making it cool to like folk.

Who are your favourite Kiwi artists right now?

I love Aldous Harding, Chelsea Jade, Marlon Williams and Foley at the moment

Besides the release date of 23 April for your album plus your countrywide tour that’s coming soon, are there other major dates we can write in our calendars to look forward to?

After all the stress and anxiety of doing the release and tour etc independently, I'll be taking a little break to focus on my well-being, but I do have an exciting video coming out for one of my songs, and it'll be released just after the tour.


About Sophie Mashlan

19-year-old Sophie Mashlan is still a fresh face in the New Zealand folk scene but has been rapidly gaining attention for her enchanting performances and evocative songs.
Primarily taking influence from the folk genre, she is forging her own sound, with a mixture of elements from pop, country and alternative.
Sophie is an avid performer, opening for major artists including Vance Joy, Graham Candy and Joshua Radin.

At just 17 years old she single handedly organised her own national tour and has since featured in festivals such as the Auckland Folk Festival. She is starting to receive media coverage of her music and has been featured on TV1’s Seven Sharp, as well as being interviewed on Radio New Zealand.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Sophie Mashlan


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