Artist of the Week: Sophie Sugar
A party girl at heart, aged 17, travelled to Ibiza, to be completely blown away by the dance movement. Captured by this beat-driven monster, the young Sophie Sugar indulged herself into the dance scene with an addiction to music and a fascination for dj'ing. The perfect start to what would eventually grow out to a successful career - as a fully fledged DJ and producer. With trance as her one true love, she ravished the dance floor with 'Call Of Tomorrow', 'Fallen Too Far' and 'Redemption'. Clearly, this first lady in trance likes her music emotional and trancy. As we find out what moves her, we discover what lady Sugar is all about: sweetening trance, with a bite.
7 Party Days In One WeekSophie: "When I was around 15, I started going to local clubs with my friends. You know the kind of thing - your typical commercial dance music type of clubs, but I loved it and would always be the one dancing until the very last minute! I soon got to know every track and would always be pestering the resident DJ's asking them for my favourite tracks all night! Then when I was 17, my friends and I went on our first holiday and decided by chance on Ibiza! When we arrived, it completely blew me away - the clubs were one thing, but more than anything we just kept hearing the most amazing music - tracks like 'BBE - 7 Days and 1 Week' - and that's where I really 'discovered' trance! I was completely addicted from then onwards!"
And so, the Sugar story began. It's been one hell of a journey, in the good sense of the word. Besides developing an addiction for dance music in all its forms, Sophie also grew into the more creative side of sound: dj'ing. Track by track, she'd triumph the decks. Sophie:"It was really from going back to after parties after nights out clubbing. Lots of my male friends had decks and would sometimes let me 'have a go' until they'd had enough and kicked me off! After a year or so of this it just kind of clicked into place and I decided to buy my own decks. Once I had them at home you couldn't get me off them! Much to the annoyance of my housemates at the time!" Annoying or not, the hard work and practice did pay off in the end.
Star Wars & ETThere's always been a specific sound that Sophie found appealing. The emotional, dramatic type of music, melodic and danceable. Sophie: "I have always loved music that evokes emotion - beautiful melodies and chord changes to me are what music is all about. Even as a very young child I remember loving things like the soundtracks to films like Star Wars and ET, classical music like Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' and love songs (I won't name any of those- haha!). If a track makes me laugh, smile or cry then it's hit the right spot. And trance did all three as well as 'dance'!"While she was already out there playing it, trance did another thing to her - it got her to create her own music. Sophie: "It was in 2003 - it was just something I really wanted to do. I played the piano for 8 years when I was younger and had lots of melodies in my head that I wanted to translate into trance music. And I thought it would be amazing to be able to play my own music at gigs!"
A mouthful of tranceIt was 'Call of Tomorrow', Sophie's second release, that wouldn't only enrich her own sets, but was regularly canned by DJ's like Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk and various other big names as well. Sophie:" It was a really exciting time - the first time I felt like things were really starting to move forward music-wise. It took me by surprise really, because (like every track I make) I just didn't know what the reaction was going to be like. So, to see DJ's I'd always looked up to supporting the track completely blew me away!" 'Isis', 'Fallen Too Far' and 'Day Seven' soon followed, all in the style which Sophie likes to describe as her 'emotional, uplifting, driving trance'. Sophie:"It's a bit of a mouthful but it gives you the general idea! My sets very much reflect my production sound although I do tend to play some darker stuff as well to break things up a bit."
With her first release of 'Fallen Too Far' out on the A State of Trance label, and not having missed a single release on this beloved imprint, Sophie is right at home. Sophie:"Completely! So at home! I've been playing ASOT releases in my sets from Day One - tracks like 'My Religion' and 'Mind Circles'. It's the perfect label for my sound!"
It's a girl's thingDespite being one of UK's, or Europe's if you please, few female DJ's, Sophie feels the way her career has developed had nothing to do with the body she was born in. Sophie:"I haven't come up against any issues with being a female. Occasionally I've felt under more pressure to prove myself if I'm the only female on a line-up but I think that's really just in my own head! Overall, I think I've been treated as per any male trance DJ - it hasn't closed any doors but equally it hasn't opened any. It's easier to stand out in a sense if you are one of the only females, but this in itself doesn't move you forward in any way. Trance fans and clubbers are much more knowledgeable about their music and dedicated to the scene as a whole than in other dance music scenes and it really is all about the music. As with any male, you start to gain respect once the music speaks for itself."
However, being crowned 'First Lady in trance' by Armin van Buuren himself, does have its plusses. Sophie:" Well, it's really flattering to be called that! For some reason, there haven't been loads of females involved in the trance scene over the years but there are more girls starting to break through now and lots of talent out there. I've always found it a paradoxical situation. Us girls are supposed to be the emotional ones!"
If any girl with the ambition to start a career is out there reading this, mark the following words. Cause Sophie's been there, and done that. Sophie:" I would always advise not to push the 'female' thing too much. Obviously there's nothing wrong with being a girl and having nice pictures taken etcetera, but at the end of the day the music is what it's all about! I would also say - really be sure of your own style before you start to make a name for yourself - if you're genuinely passionate for that style of music, this will come across. And, most of all: enjoy the journey!"
Beside YouCertainly enjoying the ride, is Sophie herself. Besides playing in the globe's best clubs, she also heats the summer with a new track. In fact, it's her very first vocal track and therefore a true challenge. Something Sophie was up for. Sophie:"Definitely! My previous few tracks have all been a similar style - very much big riff-based trance - and I wanted to try something new. I have had the idea and lyrics ready for ages - it was just a case of finding the right vocalist and I heard Rebecca Emely on YouTube one day and knew she was perfect for it!" The result is the emotional, uplifting 'Beside You', out now on the Soundpiercing imprint. Sophie:"It's really about being watched over and looked after by someone we love that is no longer with us. I think we all have people 'up there' watching out for us so it kind of came from that idea. Quite deep, I know! It's supposed to be a happy thought though, haha! As I said, I found Rebecca on YouTube - I had the backing track and lyrics ready and we then went backwards and forwards with different versions of the vocals until we finally got there! Luckily we both have similar tastes in music so we were always heading in the same direction!"
An ever-evolving journeyThe upcoming summer months will be warm and busy for Sophie, as exciting stuff is on the way. Sophie:" My new 'Symphony' radio show will be launching very soon on di.fm which I'm really looking forward to! I'll be announcing the date for the launch show on my Facebook group any time now.Gig-wise, lots of exciting stuff is coming up around the world. Including the UK, Europe, Indonesia, Vietnam and the South American Music Conference in Buenos Aires which I can't wait for! Production-wise, 'Together', which is going back to the 'Redemption' type sound, is finished and will be around soon, my next vocal project with Rebecca is well underway and an exciting collaboration coming up - more on that one soon!"
Involved with music since 1999, celebrations are in order for lady Sugar this year. Starting off as a 17-year young music junky, she's now able to look back upon a decade of hard, soulful work. Sophie:" It really is crazy how quickly that time has gone! As a child I didn't know what I wanted to be! It varied from journalist to actress to running my own sweet shop - haha! But I always loved music from as far back as I can remember and started collecting records when I was 6. From my teenage years I was sure that my career would be in music. It's just been an ever-evolving journey really and still with a long way to go!"
For more info on Sophie, check her MySpace.
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