Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Photo: Andrew Day
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Sophia Saze - Self - Part I -> here
Does life imitate art or does art imitate life?
Glad we’re diving straight into the deep end here. Does art exist if no one is there? Naturally, for me, life imitates art – anti-mimesis at its finest. I try to create things people can draw inspiration from, which can hopefully translate back to their life. I want to guide listeners to surreal yet sincere places, even if it’s for a brief moment.
What is your definition of beauty and how do you integrate it into your life and work?
Honesty is beauty, with all of its imperfections & music should be exactly that. I still respect the fact, however, that my ideals aren’t definitive of everyone’s reality. That’s very important, to keep the ego in check and recognize that no one’s taste is the pinnacle of truth.
Having moved so much growing up, how would you say it formed your personality both in a positive and in a negative way?
Both, and it certainly instilled a melancholic nostalgia that never really left. I think moving around and living through a lot of chaos from a young age gave birth to a heavier desire for belonging, which is the foundation of most of my music. I guess the lack thereof is what keeps my blood hot. From a more positive angle though, I was able to adapt a chameleonic approach to absorbing culture which reflects in my ever-evolving musical outlook as well, strictly off-kilter.
What is the most precious gift you’ve received from someone?
My life was flipped inside out with my first ever copy of Logic 9. It’s the best and worst present anyone ever gave me, worst because it has shifted the meaning of everything else in my life.
Regarding your label Dusk & Haze, you’ve mentioned the importance of presenting artists who are not only skillful but who also possess good qualities as human beings. How do you personally seek the best within yourself?
Simplicity, and grasping onto a core value system. I’m overly critical of myself and appreciate the same qualities in other artists who are constantly pushing themselves. What’s most exhausting to me in the current climate of our musical generation is entitled mentality & dismissiveness towards roots. I don’t hold anyone above me, but humbleness is still key to my existence. With that said, I refuse to work with anyone who doesn’t hold a candle to humanity. We’re living in a world of misconstrued moral hierarchies even more so in the music space. I try to keep my head down and chin up, pushing through any toxic noise, leaning solely towards the integrity of my output.
Stylist: Jillian Amos
What’s the most bizarre or unexpected thing about running Dusk & Haze?
Watching it morph into something people want to be a part of, blows my mind. I’m utterly flattered by each demo. I’m equally saddened by how big labels treat fresh talent. I’m not vouching for a constant yes, but we should be creating a sustainable ecosystem for feedback that’s constructive. Equally, younger talent has to respect the processes in place for attracting interest from labels. Aggressive approaches are completely unappealing to me and often makes me question intent. Both artists and labels should only scale at a pace which allows for holding onto basic morals.
Who is or was your biggest teacher?
I, of course, appreciate the pioneers before me, but also an avid believer in paving my own road, and not putting anyone on a pedestal. We’re all cut from the same dirt. I love some artists more than others, sure. I’ve also had various figures weaving in & out at different points in my career, like most recently Francis Harris. I think each person carries something valuable and sometimes we can learn from those younger than us even. I let go of all my egos in that regard.
What path did you consider taking before devoting yourself to music? What have you learned from it?
I was on several wrong paths before devoting myself fully to music. I started making music from a young age but never believed it was something that could become an actual career. I danced professionally for a decade but had an accident in high school which made me realize how fickle that route could’ve been. I was heavily into academics as well and received a full scholarship to study diplomacy at The George Washington University. I then got into the tech space, building apps and websites in college. Neither of those things panned out for me & I accepted a job on Wall Street. That job definitely didn’t settle well with my views. It was the most painful period of my personal/work life & I finally decided to quit and follow the one thing that had always been a constant – music.
What is the most valuable lesson your parents have taught you?
To work hard. I come from an immigrant family, we fled as political refugees from Georgia. We were very poor moving to the states & I had to exert myself twice as hard as my peers to not only achieve any inch of success but also feel comfortable facing my parents who were bending over backwards to support their three children. Needless to say, a strong work ethic became somewhat second nature from the start. My parents are the most genuine and diligent people, to a fault, and watching their struggles from a young age certainly taught me to be on my toes. I’m proud to have been raised in a household where honesty was the golden standard.
If falling in love would be something you can see what would it look like?
Logic Pro X. I don’t see myself falling in love anytime soon but if it were possible to describe in one word, commitment. I stare at it every day, and that’s making music, that’s real love and the only inch of truth left in this realm of utter chaos.
What disappoints you the most in your field of activity?
Sometimes it feels like a circus, hard to believe there’s an actual professional industry based around it. I truly wish we could defy primitive instincts and realize that if we all actively bred a healthier environment, there’s enough space for everyone to thrive in the best way possible. There’s a sad and obvious thirst for attention which diminishes attention away from what matters most – music. And desperate actions lead to desperate results which means less quality music. I think a major reason for this is simply because our generation is more disconnected than ever before, and we’re so hungry to feel validated because we’re actually lacking fundamental humanity but emotional voids won’t be filled with vapid behavior. We’re lucky to be young enough to shrug off the potential repercussions now, but what will happen a few decades from now when we realize we have no foundation and a lifetime sunk in a bottomless pool of seeking social media reactions? What are we actually leaving behind? Even memories are becoming less valuable, as everything is so instant that our brains are lacking patience and capacity. Maybe it’s all inevitable and natural to the process but, I think we can do better than that to help music excel further and wiser.
You get a lot of questions about your birthplace and we don’t want to be an exception, as Tbilisi is truly a place like no other. How did you feel during the ‘We Dance Together We Fight Together’ movement? Do you think it started a cultural chain reaction for the better?
The arts are most sacred to me & Georgian culture even more-so closer to my heart. Pendulums have to swing in extreme directions in order for things to equalize which is what we’re seeing right now across the eastern block. I’m very proud of the changes happening in my country, and that we’re at the forefront of music but there are other battles we need to win in order to sustain in the larger war. The night is darkest before dawn and a brighter future is on the horizon, but we have to keep fighting the uphill battles to see daylight.
Did your reality ever exceed your fantasies?
I’m fairly grounded & I don’t believe in dreams or fantasies. My reality has always been a direct output of my work input, and gold never comes without my own digging.
What is your life motto?
Strive for progress and not perfection.
What have you only recently formed an opinion about?
Myself. I’m constantly learning new things both innately & about the world around me. Incredible how we never stop growing.
Judging from your own experience, what would be your advice on what to do and where to go in Brooklyn for someone who has never been there before?
On a dark summer night, walk across the Williamsburg Bridge. Stand right in the middle and let it sink in, something about that cusp always brings a familiar warmth.
What are some of your highlights of 2018 and what’s coming up for you?
Detroit. It was my first time there, I played for Interface. There’s an aura in that city which skewed my perspective forever. I’m going back again this year to play the Perc Trax Showcase. 2019 is a fairly exciting year for me. I’m moving out to Europe & I’m just about to put forth my first two-part album followed by other releases. The record is now available for pre-order so check it out if you’re reading this. Brooklyn was a formative experience for me, but it’s time to stretch my wings wider. I’ve got a lot of fun shows coming up, but for me the gigs are secondary, a reward rather – making new music is always the priority. That’s where my interests lie, first and foremost.
What question would you like to be asked at an interview and what would your answer be?
The music industry side of things often overlooks questioning the more essential and humane aspects, such as mental health. It’s so easy to get lost in the facade of what the artist represents on the surface, whilst forgetting to ask simple questions like, what makes you happy as a person? My answer would be finding inner peace. It’s a fun ride, sure, but when the show is done and the curtains close, it’s important for me to have held all grounds with full integrity and not lost parts of myself in the bright lights.