Hi Sofia! Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer my questions, how are you?
I’m as fine as you can be these days! I just can’t wait to get back into the world again/ hug my friends/ see shows…
For those who don’t know you, can you give them a little introduction?
Sure! I’m an award-winning radio host, music interviewer, & the creator of two podcasts: Before the Chorus, a deep-dive music interview podcast, & SoLo Sounds, a weekly new music show on Spotify. I welcome artists from all genres, & have interviewed the likes of Glass Animals, alt-J, clipping., Future Islands, Sharon Van Etten, Sam Fender, Tkay Maidza, & more.
Did you always want to work in music? How did you start?
Not exactly. When I was little girl, I really wanted to be an actress (to be honest I still kinda do; as a pandemic gift to myself, I started singing & acting lessons)! My love of music began when I started piano & singing lessons at age 10. Then as a teenager, I think I just wanted to seem cooler so I got REALLY into indie. But somewhere amidst my poser behavior, a genuine love of music grew, & by the time I moved to London & got exposed to more genres of music, it just exploded.
As far as working in music, I started volunteering with Sofar Sounds London & student radio while in uni. The more I did these things, the more I realized that music was the only way to go.
What made you want to create your podcast, Before the Chorus?
I’ve been interviewing artists for four years. Due to the platforms I was interviewing for – namely radio stations – interviews had to be cut down to 10 minutes or so. My favorite interviewers, people like Zane Lowe & Hrishikesh Hirway of Song Exploder, do long-form, in-depth interviews. The conversations they have allow you to truly get to know an artist; it’s very humanizing. Since I didn’t have a space to do these kinds of interviews, I made my own.
How do you stay motivated and determined?
GOOD QUESTION. I’m the most easily distracted, fidgety person you’ll ever meet. But there are certainly a few things that help me stay on track. First off, I have people that rely on me, & that’s by design. When you’ve built a network over the years & make promises, you have to deliver on them – this keeps me from procrastinating. Another thing is remembering that the things we love suck sometimes, & being okay with that. I DESPISE that expression “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”, because it makes me feel guilty for not having fun through every part of the process. Audio editing can be really boring. Prepping for an interview while I’m having writers block is not fun. But I keep doing what I do because it’s SO fulfilling. So accepting that the boring bits come with anything worthwhile keeps me going.
You’ve had some incredible bands/artists on your podcast, who would be your ultimate dream guest?
Someone actually just asked me this on Instagram! Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes. His music has gotten me through a lot of stuff, & his talent just generally inspires me. I also have two tattoos based on their song Third of May, because that happens to be my mother’s birthday.
Is there a particular moment in your career that you are especially proud of?
When I won both Silver & Gold in the Best Interview category at the Student Radio Awards. The Student Radio Awards are a national event in the UK, & they’re judged by top people at the BBC & commercial radio stations. At the time, I had just started doing serious music interviews & I still felt like a bit of an impostor. To go from thinking I wasn’t meant to be there, to having my name called twice back-to-back that night was extremely validating. It gave me the confidence (& the cred) to be more ambitious.
What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions about working in your field is?
I don’t think people realize how un-glamorous it can be. Many artists work multiple jobs & spend hours in the studio, all within the same day. And big opportunities aren’t always very lucrative. It’s not to say we aren’t extremely lucky, but things aren’t all rosy either. It takes a LOT of work to do what we do.
Besides your podcast, you were also a DJ on Amazing Radio! How was your time there, and how did you get into it?
It was great! Amazing Radio gave me my first radio gig, right out of uni. I owe a lot of my success to them. I found out about AR through my friends Scott. He encouraged me to send them a demo & luckily they liked me. The rest is history.
What is your favorite thing about being a DJ/podcaster?
The people I get to talk to. It’s still surreal to think about. I’ve talked to some pretty major people who have made some of my favorite music. But best of all, I get to talk to them like real human beings. Instead of quick interactions, I actually get to sit down with them, unpack their music, & push past the shiny veneer of celebrity. We get to just be people with lived experiences & a deep love for what we do.
Do you believe that by doing Before The Chorus, it helped you be prepare for Amazing Radio etc?
Technically it’s the reverse! I started at AR in 2018, & created Before the Chorus in 2020. But yes, AR taught me how to be a better presenter & interviewer. Being on the station gave me the confidence to pursue my own projects, because I knew what I was capable of.
You do so much in music! Such as SoLo Sounds and Sofar Sounds how did you get involved with both of these?
SoLo Sounds is another one of my projects. It’s a one-hour weekly new music show on Spotify. All genres are welcome! A mate of mine produces Phoebe Fox’s show Picks by Phox (which is GREAT by the way. I found Genesis Owusu through her & he ended up guesting on Before the Chorus). I was so curious to know how they were playing music during a podcast, so we had a chat & I learned about Spotify’s new podcasting features. It basically allows you to create a radio show that can be listened to any time – it’s brilliant. I knew I needed to get on that ASAP, so I did.
As for Sofar, a friend from uni invited me to a show back in 2016, & I immediately fell in love with it. So I joined as a volunteer & have been with them since, even after moving cities! Sofar has given me SO much, whether it be presenting skills, connections, or a very large, crazy group of friends that I’m constantly in touch with.
Do you believe by doing several things in music it’s prepared you more for future endeavors?
I sure hope so! It can be tricky to jump from radio to traditional music industry jobs. But I know I have a lot of experience across the board, & I’d like to think I have valuable knowledge.
With your experience in hosting your podcast, Amazing Radio etc would you ever go into presenting?
Like TV presenting? I’ll do anything that involves talking about music & getting it out to the world.
What other area of music would you want to delve into?
I’d love to work in sync licensing or marketing. Just getting music into places for it to be heard. I also really love musical theatre & want to do that as a pastime post-COVID.
The music industry is unfortunately male-dominated, do you believe there are more women radio presenters/podcasters now than there was before?
It’s hard to say because it’s not something I followed closely when I was younger. I’d think there are more of us, but most of my heroes are dudes so there are still ways to go.
Who are some of your favorite radio presenters/podcasters?
Zane Lowe, Hrishikesh Hirway, Cheryl Waters, Nardwuar. Outside of radio, Sean Evans from Hot Ones & Oprah.
Who are your favorite up and coming bands/artists right now?
That’s a very long list to ask for! The two main acts I’m excited about are MICHELLE & Skullcrusher. Some others are Another Sky, Genesis Owusu, Tkay Maidza, Flyte, Lous & the Yakuza, Crumb, NAYANA IZ, Fleece… I could go on for ages!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in music?
Set boundaries. Just because you love what you do doesn’t mean you don’t need to shut your brain off at the end of the day. Also trust that your opinions are valuable.
If you could recommend me someone to interview next, who would it be?!
Joy Warmann. She’s a dear friend who works for Secretly Group. She’s also a radio presenter, runs an improv jazz event series called Imaginary Millions & various other things (she’s always juggling a few projects!). She’s also one of the most knowledgeable people in know in music.
Huge thanks to Sofia for being a part of Making Noise! Before the Chorus and its sister podcast, SoLo Sounds, can be streamed wherever you listen to podcasts. Sofia can be found on Instagram @beforethechoruspodcast and @soundslikesofia.