I caught up with exceptional singer-songwriter Sophie Coran to chat about writing processes, musical influences and the best advice she’d give to her younger self. Based in Philadelphia, Sophie Coran has been on my radar for a little while and certainly won’t be going off it anytime soon. A reflective songwriter that using music as a form of escapism, Sophie has recently released her debut album ‘SPACE’ and it’s a whirlwind adventure armed with refreshing indie-pop elements.
What’s your writing process like? Do you write the music or lyrics first?
My writing process is definitely messy. I usually get an idea for a song and jot it down in my notes app, or record it as a voice memo (I have lots of random voice memos!). Sometimes a lyric will just pop into my head, and I know that I have to run to the piano and explore it, because I believe it came to me for a reason. My writing process has shifted over the years. Most recently, I try to write as quickly as I can so that I can get the idea out in its most natural, full form. Then I can finesse it, but I find that writing songs while the idea is fresh serves it the best. I usually write at the piano and then I work with my band on the arrangement. Sometimes I bring a song to one of my bandmates, Logan Roth, who helps me with the music if I am stuck and then I’ll bring it to the band, or my producer and collaborator, Michael Cumming, and we will make a demo. It really depends on the particular song, but I’d say usually lyrics come first.
Who are your main musical influences and why?
My musical influences are: always Amy Winehouse, and always Fiona Apple. Always, always. Whenever I listen to Amy Winehouse, I find something new that I hadn’t quite heard in the same way before, and I’m always in awe. I’m really inspired by contemporary R&B and soul, as well as artists who play the piano, because it inspires me, especially when I feel insecure or stuck. I classify my music as “Noir & B,” which is a hybrid of R&B and soul music combined with a sense of nostalgia and cinematic layers, all heavily inspired by classic movies from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Currently, I’m in love with Nick Hakim and Orion Sun’s music. I connect to the harmonies and there’s something so poignant about each of these artists’ lyrics that really draws me in.
What’s the best advice you’d give to your younger self?
First of all, the key is to always be writing songs and to believe in myself and my music — and to hold onto that belief. I think there is a tendency to feel like, as musicians, we always have to be working towards something and that can feel so scary and serious, like we’re running out of time. But it’s called playing music for a reason! Have fun! Remember why you like to do this. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s probably advice I need to keep in mind today.
What’s in store for you for the rest of the year?
I recently released my debut album, S P A C E, so the rest of the year will be all about continuing to promote it. There are some more music videos in store, which I am stoked about. I’m hoping that once live shows are in full swing, my band and I will be able to perform again. I’m looking forward to touring in the near future. I’m also going to be recording new music, which I am so excited about!
What’s the music scene like where you are from?
I’m from Philadelphia, where I’m currently based and it has an incredibly supportive music community. There is this sense of encouragement and wanting to see your friends succeed as opposed to a competitive spirit. The Philly music community also has the support of NPR’s World Cafe Live, which gives musicians so many opportunities. It’s truly a small world here, and it seems like everyone is connected to everyone else by a few degrees of separation. Currently, Philly means a lot to me because my bandmates are all here and due to the collaborative nature of our work together, it’s a huge reason why I have such fond feelings for my hometown. Before COVID paused live shows, on any given night of the week you could go and catch amazing music (if you weren’t already performing yourself!). It’s a very nurturing scene.