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Sophie B. Hawkins Chats About Her New Album and More Ahead of Her May 13 Concert At City Winery STL

WHO: Sophie B. Hawkins

WHEN: Saturday, May 13 at 8:00 pm

WHERE: City Winery StL



–by Randy Thompson


Randy Thompson – I’m really excited to be talking to you today.

Sophie B. Hawkins – Me too, I really appreciate it very much.


RT – You’re coming to St. Louis soon.  Do you have any connections here, have you been here before?

SBH – I love St. Louis.  Yes, I mean a lot of my relatives are from the area, my grandfather, both the Ballentine’s and Hawkins’ are all from the area. I’ve always done amazing shows in St. Louis.  I like the people and there are a lot of outdoor venues. Yes, I’ve always had a great time in St. Louis, it’s a cultural hub. Plus, the weather’s amazing and the people are great.


RT – You’re coming to The Winery, have you performed there before?

SBH – No, I’m happy to be going to finally see City Winery at City Foundry in St. Louis.


RT – You just released your new album, Free Myself, two weeks ago.  How would you describe how this new album has manifested for you?

SBH – Well, it’s been a 10 year birth, actually. I like that people are saying it’s a birth because my last album, The Crossing, was definitely a death.  I call it the perilous crossing.  There has to be a lot of rebuilding in order to set the foundation for Free Myself to really be free.  For the music to get out and be supported.  To be so clear as it is now, and to be wonderfully received.  Basically, it is a new era and like every era there’s many years of building toward that era to getting there.  You know, I moved back to Manhattan, NY where my family was and I had my four-and-a-half-year-old son.  Then I had a daughter, Ester. I kept writing and writing and recording and really trying to get support but realized that it wasn’t going to be a straight shot for a long time. So, I started a musical, wrote a novel and I kept working and gigging and recording.

I got this really strong sense that it wasn’t my time to get an album out.  And it was painful. However, I do always trust my creative process.

I have a lot of trust issues, we all do, and I always trust in my creative process and the life of my creation. They always do seem to find their way into the world and I’m so grateful about that and it’s never easy for me. Luckily, it was never easy, but it’s better than it used to be. And I said, Oh well, it wasn’t easy to get “Damn I Wanna Be Your Lover” there, it took years and years but it’s okay.   

This album, I took the time to really, I hate the word, but it does make sense for this album, to curate the actual flow of the album, the songs on it, because by that time, it was 10 years in the making.  There were so many songs, not only demos, but songs that I recorded for this album, it had different titles and totally different songs.  Finally, after Covid when the timing was right, it was nothing that I did, it was all the universe.  I didn’t do anything different, except keep doing the work and suddenly people were hearing it differently.  It’s literally what always happens.  You’re doing your thing and suddenly one person hears it and they’re not criticizing it. They’re saying, “Wait a minute that’s good” and then it gives you a little burst of confidence and that’s kind of what happened. One person heard it in 2021 and said “Wait a minute, this is really good.  Why aren’t you putting out new music?” I was about to put out a live version of Tongues and Tails for the anniversary.  “Why are you putting out music that you’ve already put out before when you have a great new album.”  And I said, “Nobody likes this album”. This person said, it’s phenomenal, what’s wrong with you?” So, then I really started to pause and curate, editing, taking off what didn’t fit, figuring out what was the theme of this album.  You know, doing the photo shoot in Costa Rica, which is the cover of the album.  And really start finding my way with who am I now, what am I representing.  And it came out like a child, like I said, it was a long birth but a very healthy baby.


RT – It sounds like the time has been helpful for this album to happen?

SBH – Yes, yes, it has been! You never know what’s going to happen in your life and it’s only in hindsight that you go, “wow, that was my journey.”  But for me, I was in that period of frustration and creation for so long that I didn’t think “Oh I’m in this period.”, I was just in it. And then you say, “Wow, it’s amazing you got this record out, Sophie.  It’s phenomenal that you have so much support now.” I am really grateful for the support. You have no idea how grateful I am. You know getting to the point of Tongues and Tails the first album; it’s your whole life, your whole life journey like hitting walls, going through obstacles, and then you have success and then the pressure of success, and so on. I wasn’t sure many times whether I would ever be able to be the Sophie B Hawkins that people really seemed to miss.  I knew who I was, and I wasn’t sure that it was going to be such a great package.  I love the songs but I wasn’t sure the whole package was going to be able to get out because of the world, it’s so strange, and the music business has changed so much.  Whether it was going to be song by song, you know, because I thought I should give my songs to a young boy to sing, of course, that’s something I can still do. I thought maybe that would be my destiny, that Sophie B Hawkins just goes away, and the music lives on through other artists. So maybe that’s what I do. So anyway, needless to say, I’m so grateful to be playing in St. Louis with this new album and this phenomenal band.  And the album sounds so good live.  


RT – Can you tell me a little bit about the band?  How you came together and who’s involved.


SBH – Yeah, I’d like to tell you about the band, because they’re such good people. Seth Glier, he’s phenomenal.  I met him last year, and there’s a very funny video on the Kitchen video on YouTube.  That’s the day I met Seth, and it’s exactly a year ago.  We went into the kitchen to play the new song “Love Yourself”, which he’d never heard, of course, and it wasn’t released yet, and my kids were coming home so I was cooking dinner.   I just set up the phone to record “Love Yourself”, but I’d never played it live. So here we are, doing that very first take, it’s called Kitchen video on YouTube.  That’s Seth Weir in my band, check that out. He’s so cute, you know. You see him standing in the doorway of my kitchen. Oh my gosh, who is this person, it’s so cute. So then, Seth is in my band, and he found this amazing musician named Katie Marie Richards from Austin Tx, actually from Devon, England. She’s totally British but she lives in Austin TX, she is known more as a drummer, but she’s getting known as a producer and a songwriter as well. She has her own career, but they’re very generous.  They come out on the road with me.  They have their own careers, but together the three of us are really a powerhouse.  It’s exciting.

It’s neat, we all sing, we all switch instruments.  I’ll be doing some of the songs behind the drum set and singing lead, and Katie Marie will move to the guitar. It’s just so cool.

RT – How does it feel to be taking this out on the road to live venues?

SBH – It pulls it into a new life, and I’ve never enjoyed it so much. Doing new songs on stage, it’s the time I took to curate Free Myself so that those songs are on there and then making sense together as a whole. It’s the quality of my musicians, it’s the quality and emotional presence.  The songs are so emotional and spiritual.  Seth and Katie and I are so spiritually aligned, it’s so amazing every night, I honestly look forward to the shows.  We’re not trying to play an album, we’re actually bringing songs to life. 


RT – How did the title come to you, what was the process? What does “Free Myself” mean to you?

SBH – It is short and it is deep. It did take a long time for me to commit to that   because I thought other people might not understand it, they might say why isn’t it Free Yourself.  One person might ask why is this song about love and liberation and people throw all kinds of things at me but it came back to Free Myself.  Well, free myself, I always think about what it means because in relationships when I don’t feel free then I say what does it mean to free myself in this relationship what does it take, what do I need to do for myself.  Because basically, it’s unloading, it’s unburdening the essential self that we have. I guess we have a lot of selves is what I’m learning, you know.  But there is an essential, central self that is the engine of all that I’m doing, being, feeling and creating.  It is being so aware of all the things happening that get in the way of the self,  the spiritual growth and emotional aliveness of this essential self.  Why don’t I feel free and what can I do to get there? What do I want from this person? I want to free myself with this person or else I don’t want to be in it.  You know, as a book end, like “Damn, I want to Be Your Lover”, that’s still a good lyric but “I returned as chained and bound to you” now I’m saying No!  I don’t want to return being chained and bound to you, I want to be free.  

RT – What are your thoughts on, “Better off Without You”, from the new album?

SBH – I love that song!  

RT – I love when you look directly at us and say “You lied to my face”

SBH – Yes, I think we all take on everyone’s burdens.  It’s what we do as children, you want to unburden yourself and find out what really is yours.  It’s a gift, because then you’re working with something that is wholly yours.  That is what we’re meant to do in this life.  That’s our view anyway and we’re trying to get to something specifically, uniquely ours. Bring it out of us in this expressive life. “Better off Without You” defines the end of that other era and this is the beginning of the new one. I love singing Better Off on stage, I say, If you haven’t gotten to this you haven’t lived. It’s really amazingly triumphant to say “I’m Better Off Without You” and I hope well for in your heart. All we can do is to be honest in the situation, it’s all you can do to hopefully, as we free ourselves, we find that support says yes, that’s very strong of you, that’s correct, you’ve been saying it.  Sadness comes out of how much grief and loss, the process of unburdening, makes it so worth it.  There’s this great quote by Beckett, something like, “Sorrow is like a stamp collection there are things we collect all our lives” and when I read that I thought, No!  I thought for me, my sorrows are like a big pool and I want to be bailing them out, I want to bail out the sorrows I don’t want to carry them around. I don’t want to have a stamp collection of sorrow, I don’t want an ocean of sorrow anymore, I want to bail out the water. And I want to be free.  I don’t believe we need to walk around in our collective sorrows. I think we can unburden ourselves; I do.


RT – You’ve dedicated yourself to some important causes, would you mind speaking about them?

SBH – It’s really real to me. I was just composting some food before the interview. I saw in my trash that one of my beautiful children had thrown away a glass bottle, and I wondered why my beautiful child hasn’t recycled this? I did a little pout about it but you know what happened, I burst into tears, not about my child at all but just imagined about the dolphins, whales, and polar bears and I burst into tears, and I thought “Gosh, this means so much to you” and it really does. In other words it’s an active, living concern of mine. When I’m recycling and I tell my children we have to recycle and compost, they might get annoyed but I’m so passionately connected with other creatures of this world and I never feel separate from them.  Even when things are going well, I walk out and I thank the trees, I feel their support, needless to say the environment is very incredibly important to me.  I actively take care of the environment every day.  I also give money to the water alliances as much as I can and I will always do more to be sustainable at my home, that’s a huge thing for me.  

The other thing is LGBTQ+, it’s a no brainer for me.  I came out as Omnisexual in 1992, because they said “Are you a lesbian?”, and I said I can’t say if I am one thing or the other. I’m everything, and I didn’t want to disavow any of it.  I want to be able to be what I am as I go on, I was only in my 20s.  What answer can I give that will include everything I want to be, but haven’t even experienced yet.  I said Omnisexual, I coined the phrase.  Now it’s become something that gets used and I take full credit for that one.  This struggle, what’s so beautiful. The LGBTQ+ movement is really about self and love, it’s self-love.  We don’t need to be able to identify a gender, I’m so happy that I don’t have to know if a person is a man or a woman or a they or a them, I don’t care, I just think that’s a beautiful person.  I’m so happy that my grandchildren are not going to care.

RT – What guidance or words would you have for those teens and others trying to find their way through identity?

SBH – Well, if it were my child I would, of course, say, and mean, only you can define yourself.  Only you can know who you are.  And the struggle is not bad, the struggle is going to turn you from a piece of coal into a diamond, so the pressure and the struggle is okay but don’t let it get you down, let it give you strength, let it make you stronger. It’s what I say to my children, I support them.  My daughter asked me the other day, she’s only 7, “What is XX and XY?  because we were studying it.”  It’s chromosomes, what does that mean?  Well, XX traditionally means female and XY traditionally means male.  Well, which one am I?  I was quiet, and I said, “Well, which are you?  What do you think you are?” and she said “well I guess I’m a female”.  “Well, then you are.”  I’m really open about it because I feel that way about me.  Different people bring out different parts of us, different genders live within us.


RT – How does your art connect with your music?

SBH – Painting is really helpful to everything because it’s a place where I’m completely not thinking.  That’s what I love about painting, because it’s in the present.  I walk out and have a canvas and a few oil paints. I just start moving my arms around and that’s what painting is for me.  I love the process, because I’m in nature. Mostly, I paint outside in nature, and I’m listening to all the sounds, I’m resetting, going back to zero. I love that about painting.  In painting, I do find themes that I wish to carry out into music, and painting is really natural to me and music is really difficult.  That’s why, I think, I work so hard on music.  I let painting be the natural thing.  Writing is constant, I mean, I love to write as challenging as it is.  I do get all my lyrical themes for growth in writing and the writing I do to survive.  I don’t know how I could be on this planet without waking up and writing in my journal.  I write stories and musicals and I don’t know how I could live, it’s just too uncomfortable to be a human.

RT – Well Sophie, I thank you for your time today. I know that our readers will enjoy learning more about your journey, and will look forward purchasing your new album, as well as seeing you at City Winery StL on May 13th.



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