I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and interview Sophie Gonzalez. Sophie is an extremely talented classical and jazz singer based out of Monterrey, Mexico. Sophie has such an unique outlook on life and always gives me new perspectives about things going on in my career and life. In this article we will dig into Sophie's professional life and her creative outlook on music.
Let's get started with life in Mexico & the music scene... can you tell me a bit about that?
... " Monterrey, Mexico - that’s near Tijuana and the border under Texas. It’s like... smaller than Mexico City but still a big city. The music industry is really growing, which I am very grateful. Jazz is becoming more popular here and people are opening their minds to [jazz] original music.
We used to be quite the heavy “cover” town but now there are more original artists around here now which is great. Jazz is really attracting more of an audience which is nice."
Let's get into the origin story - how did you start playing music?
... "Well, I grew up in a really musical family. My dad has always been an opera singer and competent musician. That being said, I have grown up my entire life with opera music in the house."
... "I always kind of knew that I wanted to sing professionally."
... "That [singing] was the one thing that really made me happy from the start. I was also good in class from the start (around six years old)."
Let's Talk About Music in the Family. Did they encourage your dreams?
... "One day when I was about eleven or twelve - I was talking with my dad and he asked me what I wanted to do in life. I told him I really want to sing and follow in his footsteps.
... "At the time I thought I wanted to be a opera singer so my family got me formal - classical training. I got a famous Soprano teacher : Yvonne Garza. I studied with Yvonne for about five years."
... "My dad made a professional opera career in Italy. He studied under Parvarotti - and lived in Italy for two years. He has performed in big opera houses in Mexico City like the Palacio De Bellas Artes & he is the only one that made a professional career out of singing in the family (besides myself)."
Let's Talk Music School and Formal Training.
... "Well, my first real lessons were mentioned previously - those classes with Yvonne I took privately. The lessons with Yvonne mainly focused on classical and Broadway stuff."
... "After that, I went to School of Rock. It was cool because we had teachers that were known internationally."
... "School of Rock was cool! They got us to play for big audiences like festivals, venues, parks, etc. I even got to be in the house band, which was the head band for the school "
... "After that - I went to a conservatory here in Montery called: Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey for one year. During my time at conservatory I really discovered that I didn’t want to do opera - i wanted to sing more contemporary music like jazz & blues."
... "I was like “dad I really don’t want to be an opera singer, hope that's okay”
... "To my surprise he told me that he would support me and even would help me go to a different school. That’s how I discovered LACM [Los Angeles College of Music]. I googled the best schools in the United States and LACM popped right up."
... "I made the audition tape and got accepted into LACM's vocal department. That’s pretty much how I got into America."
Any mentors growing up or recently in your career?
... "I guess you can say my dad has been my biggest mentor. He had a successful career and has always supported me when I need him. He really understands what I am trying to do with music. I really haven’t found a formal music mentor that isn’t related to me."
What would you do besides music?
... "I would either do creative writing major or natural landscaping. Something artistic for sure."
So I've heard that you actually write too. Would you care to share anything bout your writing?
... "I really like writing novels and sometimes, poetry. I started writing two novels which I haven’t finished because they're taking so much time to write. I'll have more details about my writing closer to completion. I just heard about these things called Kennings, have you heard about them yet? I’m really attracted to past eras and medieval stuff. I think it’s really interesting how they created Kennings to describe real life objects into something different. They took different perspectives on the world outside."
Do you have a certain type of music you always sing?
... "Yeah, I always tend to sing jazz and Disney Songs. A lot of pop stuff that I hear on the radio like Ed Sheernan or Adelle]."
... "I really wish I could rap. I honestly can’t it’s soooo bad."
For us jazz heads out there, what are four favorite standards you have?
- Autumn Leaves - Joseph Kosma
- Black Orpheues - Vinicius de Moraes
- Summertime - Ira Gershwin & DuBose Heyward
- Quiet Night -Antônio Carlos Jobim
Can you describe a lesson you learned here in America?
... "Well, I was in jazz class and I gave like the worst performance in my life. I felt so shitty - I went into the bathroom and just cried my eyes out. That taught me a lot."
... "It taught me that nothing is going to go how you expected no matter how prepared you can get. Gigs can always surprise you in the most amazing ways. That time I felt really guilty because I didn’t study enough and it was my fault. It felt awful because it was a song I actually liked too. I remember bumping into my professor in the bathroom and she told me that it [the performance] wasn’t as bad as I thought. It taught me that I can really have the wrong impression of myself whether in life or in singing. I can get really into my head and forget my purpose to sing. My motivation is: I’m supposed to making people feel something. Sometimes I forget about that."
Could you share some advice to young singers in Mexico wanting to go to LA and be a singer?
... "Believe in your craft and believe in your unique talents."
... "Be kind to people and smile - you will get that in return and it will lead to help in the future."
... "You never know what relationships can come out of that. Take things very seriously enough so you can learn, but not seriously enough to the point that small stuff takes you away from your true goals."
Do you write your own music?
... "I do my own lyrics and I perform my own music."
... "I try to write most of my songs on the piano. But I’m not the best on piano or guitar so I tend to work with instrumentalists."
What sort of music have you written?
... "It’s mostly a mixture of jazz, soul, & pop. I think I have a very acoustic sort of sound because I don’t really dig digital stuff right now. I can listen to it, i just don’t know how to write with it. I tend to write about love and all the forms that it can embody."
So I know LACM is in Pasadena, how was singing in Mexico now vs Southern California?
... "The music scene here is way smaller than it is in LA. It’s not as hard to get my foot in the door in Mexico as it was in LA. But LA is way more open minded and more welcoming to new artists. Here in Monterrey, it's a little easier to build relationships and a professional image because there simply isn't this giant music scene like in LA."
What's one karaoke song you always choose and just kill it on?
... "My karaoke go-to is either Hit The Road Jack or like a bolero. I don't know I have tons of karaoke songs. I Will Always Love You - that’s just a classic. I think most girls can relate. Oh and of course I Wanna Be by the spice girls."
Entering the astrology corner...
What’s your sign?
... "Scorpio - which means to me: depth in values, people, love, everything."
Have noticed that you work better with different signs?
... "Not really in music, but I know I get along well with Taurus and Leos"
If you could be any animal what would it be?
... "I would be tiger because I admire tigers a lot. I think they are really strong and confident. They are gorgeous, elegant creatures. All the while being very unpredictable."
Do you believe in fate or do we create our own destiny?
... "I believe in both. They are both correlated, they go hand in hand. We all have our choices, but we all have a purpose as well. You can create your own reality. "
Sophie has currently collaborated with Screaming Sheep Productions by taking part in the music for their short film entitled "El Bosque Roto". A link to the trailer can be found here.
Sophie gigs currently around the Monterrey, Mexico area. For further information on show dates or events please refer to Sophie's social media outlets down below.
About The Author:
Benjamin Jay is a Los Angeles based guitarist, blogger, and content creator. You are reading a blog article from Benjamin's website which he updates frequently. Typically Benjamin writes about gear, social media, the music industry, and interviews artists. To be kept updated with new articles or for information on booking an interview please subscribe down below.
Thank you for reading!
Facebook: Benjamin Jay Music