I have been speaking with Sonal Jogia…
about her new single, Alive, and what its story is. I was keen to know whether more material is coming and why she moved from Canada to Spain; which musicians she grew up around and is inspired by; a few albums that mean a lot to her – she highlight some rising artists to check out.
Jogia reveals how she spends time away from music and what advice she would give to musicians coming through; if there are going to be any tour dates approaching; how her songwriting has evolved since the start – she ends the interview by selecting a great song.
Hi, Sonal. How are you? How has your week been?
My week has been good thanks! Some work, some downtime…always trying to find a balance.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure I can! I was born in England and moved to Canada when I was just a-year-old. I always loved to sing. As a child, I would sing and perform for anyone who would listen to me. As I got into my teens, I became a bit more quiet about the fact that I could sing and usually just kept it to myself, besides a couple of trusted friends.
Now, I better understand that these gifts cannot be kept for oneself…they are meant to be shared and experienced together! Other than that, I am as much of an introvert as I am an extrovert. I love people I can be vulnerable with and forming heart connections and I love lifting my energy by spending time with these people and by spending time in nature - and, of course, by being creative by either writing, listening to music and playing the guitar and singing!
What is your new single, Alive, about? Is there a story behind it?
Alive is a heartfelt and emotional expression of Love; love that brings out the best in you and helps you grow and evolve as a human; a love that makes you feel safe and like you’re not alone and are always supported. Alive can pertain to any kind of love, really; not just romantic love.
We share loving relationships with different people in our lives…family, friends; our pets (who are also family) - and this song can heighten emotions of love that we share with another being. I hope people feel that when they listen to Alive. I hope it makes them feel that love even stronger in that moment.
I believe you left Canada to find new opportunity in Spain! What was the reason behind that? Are you back in Canada now?
Honestly; it was just a lifestyle change and change of perspective that I was looking for…not to mention a desire to live by the sea and to have milder winters. I also wanted to immerse myself in another culture and moving to a small Spanish town definitely gave me that experience. I can also speak Spanish quite fluently now, which was a part of the plan.
I go back and forth spending time in both Spain and in Calgary, which is where I grew up in Canada. I was back recently to record the most-recent E.P. and to do some shows. I can see myself spending more and more time there in the future. Having finished recording the new E.P., I’m at the stage where being there would be better for me on a professional level as an independent artist.
Are you already looking ahead to new material? Might we see more songs next year?
Well. If everything goes according to plan, then you’ll see some more songs this year! With the completion of the new E.P., Alive is just the first of a few singles I plan on releasing this year. Exciting times!
How do you think you have evolved and changed as a songwriter since you started out? Do you feel like you are writing in a more natural way?
Writing for me is definitely very instinctive. It can often start with a catchy melody or a couple of phrases that I just can’t get out of my head and then I just run with that. Sometimes, I end up composing entire songs in my head because I can just hear it all before I sing it out-loud or pick up the guitar. Lately, though, in the past couple of years I’ve also taken to co-writing with other musicians and songwriters. That has been a really great experience for me because it has allowed me to learn different techniques and processes when it comes to writing.
It’s interesting to see how other people approach a song. This has really been helping me grow as an artist and a songwriter. As well as getting to know other creative minds to collaborate with, these relationships often grow into friendships…which is such a gift.
Can you remember when you decided to go into music? Was there a single moment where you knew you had to follow it?
Wow. Well this, for me, has been a process - and a long one at that. I can’t pinpoint one single moment: it’s been many moments and experiences throughout my life that have lead me to the realization that, when you have a purpose; when you have something that gives your life meaning then that’s what you go towards. I now understand that this is what my life was leading me to: to music. It brings humanity together and connects us.
It’s a very powerful thing to be able to see how something that comes from your heart can affect people on such an emotional and spiritual level…in the same way it affects me. Once you feel that, you can’t help but want to experience that with others.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Well. I would like to have some tour dates set for Europe by then, which I’m working on now. There’s no better way to experience these songs then to share them live! I also plan to release a couple more singles and, eventually, the E.P. I don’t have a firm date set for the release of the E.P. yet, though; I’m aiming for the end of this year! I’m also practicing a lot and trying to improve my guitar skills. Since I’m fairly new to the guitar in these past few years, I’m spending time training and getting my live acoustic set ready to go on the road!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
I have a few that really stand out for me - and those have to do with the way people have experienced my songs. I’ll mention a couple of these that had the most impact…
There is a song I wrote which is on my first E.P. that has to do with finally having the strength to walk away from a relationship that is not healthy and no longer serves you. I had somebody share with me that, when her fiancé left her, she was so broken and she sang this song over and over while looking at herself in the mirror to help her find her strength again. I get goosebumps just writing about it now because I hoped that song would help people to feel empowered!
Another memory is a more recent one which involves a live performance at an open mic night in Calgary. I was singing a song off of the new E.P. called Where I Wanna Be and, after I took my seat, a guy came up to me to ask me if I could write down the name of the song and my name in his notebook. As I was writing; I asked him what he wanted it for and he told me about his struggle with mental illness and how this particular song came to him at the perfect moment in his life as he was feeling very low and vulnerable at the time. He was so grateful for having received that gift right when he needed it the most. I decided to get his contact info to send him the song, which hasn’t even been mixed and is still unreleased.
These are two examples of how music really connects us and how it brings healing.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Haha. It wouldn’t be surprising to those who know me that all of my selections are going to be '90s albums! So, let’s go…
Mary J. Blige - What’s the 411?
There was nothing that I didn’t love about this album. From the hard beats, to the beautiful harmonies; to the passionate vocals. I would listen to it over and over on-repeat without ever getting sick of it! I loved all the elements of Hip-Hop, Soul and R&B all fused together. It truly is a timeless album. She really set the stage stylistically for artists in similar genres who came after her - including me!
Erykah Badu - Baduizm
The beginning of Neo-Soul! This beautiful woman is so self-assured. I love how she expresses herself in her songs. She is just very connected and in-tune with herself and the universe and it really comes through. I find her songs to be really healing on an energetic level. She really knows how to transmit a feeling and elevate your vibration…love her!
Jodeci - Diary of a Mad Band
JODECIII! Oh, Jodeci. Their songs could go from hopelessly romantic and all about love; to very explicit, get down and dirty styles. I remember there being a lot of controversy surrounding the band…from drugs, to partying; to domestic abuse, to not coming through with their commitments - just real-life humans trying to figure it all out. And the music…THE MUSIC! I love how synthesizer-based these songs are, with smooth bass-lines and killer harmonies. It was very impactful for me.
My friends and I would listen to this album while chilling at home; cruising around town, at parties…it didn’t matter where. You think it would be mainly women who would have been diehard fans but men loved them just the same. Lots of memories with this album! I think that’s one of the main things that make it stand out for me.
This was a tough question. Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo; Michael Jackson, Sade…how do you narrow it down?! But, I had to so I did. Thanks for asking this!
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
You really stumped me with this question! I’m going to say Tina Turner. I love how she has stayed relevant over many decades and has evolved with the times. I love her energy and delivery on the stage and the thing I love most is her resilience. She has endured some very tough times in her personal life and has always risen above them through her music, mindset and spirituality.
As for the rider; it would entail being able to spend personal time with her, such as joining her in her meditations and meals - because that is where you can really connect and get to know someone on a human level. Oh, and maybe a duet. Haha! This is all seems like a fantasy - but we know anything is a possibility in the entire realm of possibilities. Either way, it has been fun to give this some thought as I had never thought about it before.
Can we see you tour soon? Where are you playing?
Soon, yes, but I’m just in the process of getting started with tour plans. I’m going to be booking some dates throughout Europe for the winter and then in Canada in the spring and summer. So, be on the lookout for that! At the moment, I’ve just returned to Spain from Canada after having finished recording the new E.P. so touring is definitely high up on my list of things I’m working on right now.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Well. Being a fairly new artist trying to break through myself, I would tell them the same thing I try to do myself. Keep your focus on your craft; on your art; on your creations. You have to be happy first with the music you’re putting out there and you have to believe in it. Deliver your songs from your heart. Music is about connection…vulnerability…openness…unity…so use it as such!
And then, of course, find a balance between this and treating it as a business. That is where I’m at right now: trying to find that balance and understanding that there is more to it than just making the music and performing. It can be daunting, but I’m learning as I go along!
IN THIS PHOTO: Joanna Borromeo/PHOTO CREDIT: Tieran Green Photography
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
IN THIS PHOTO: Forest Blakk
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Up until now, I definitely have. My way of unplugging and reconnecting with myself is to spend time in nature. I love to be anywhere by the sea and especially love to be in it, so coastal Spain is an amazing place to be for me. I love waking with my dogs out in the vineyards and olive groves. Up until now, working on my music and chill-time have been pretty balanced.
But, now, as at the moment I am just a one-person team; I am spending more and more time on my music and launching this new project. That is my main focus and what is taking the front seat right now. I believe that it’s always important to take down time for yourself. Stillness is important for keeping the mind right, for gaining perspective; for flow, creativity and inspiration. That will always be an important part of the process for me.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Haha. I appreciate that! I’d love to hear something by JP Cooper. I love Closer, September Song; She’s On My Mind. Too many good ones to choose from! Any of these songs would be great. Thank you!
And…thank you so much for taking the time to get to know me and my music better. It’s been a pleasure!
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