Sofia Kourtesis is fill of innovation and creativity with a taste for unique noises. Having risen from the dross that clutters Soundcloud, she has appeared on several serious musical radars.
The Berlin resident recently released her debut EP, This Is It, which is overtly catchy and melodic mood music. You can immediately hear the passion behind the music Sofia's making and this first EP is frighteningly good. It was obvious EARMILK needed to reach out and hear who she is and how she's capable of such impressive sounds.
I spoke with Sofia to see her perspective on sound design, Berlin influence, and smallest crowds to perform in front of. Sofia also has premiered the first viewing of her new music video for the EP single "Fresia", which you can watch below.
EARMILK: Hey Sofia, sothe video for your new single "Fresia" is premiered with EARMILK today. It's really calming and features a slow visual trip through a night ride in a car. Were you the one driving or did you have any autonomy producing this film?
Sofia: A friend of mine was driving the car for the film. What I know from experience is I'm the most relaxed when I am away and travelling. I feel the most comfortable when I go on long trips. The best ideas I always have is while taking showers though.
EM: Definitely. What are you most excited about with your new EP, This Is It, being released?
Sofia: I'm excited about the reaction from people. It was a very emotional process for me because every song was a personal relief to make.
EM: Quite a few of the tracks are related to your family, correct?
Sofia: Yeah, more than anything it's about the death of my granny. I tried to write about all my emotions that came to me when she died. Fresia is the name of my mother too.
EM: How long did This Is It take to make in its entirety?
Sofia: Well it took a while because I wasn't always working on it. The last half went really quickly, but the beginning was slow. I would say roughly two years.
EM: Which track did you have the most fun to make?
Sofia: I think probably "Abue" because it was really funny to produce. I was jamming around with Gold Panda at the time and it felt really organic. We made it in only 30 minutes.
EM: Gold Panda collaborated with you on two tracks "Abue" and "Las Magnolias", do you feel his style has rubbed off on your own production?
Sofia: In the beginning yes, I think the first song we made together really inspired me. He has definitely taught me a lot.
EM: You've used an unusual array of different objects such as a child's toy triangle, an MPC, and drums to make music. How do you decide what to use to create sounds for your songs?
Sofia: I don't really have a technique. I just try to focus on one specific thing, it could be a word or a sound for instance. From there I think about how to build around that idea. You can always take a pattern and make it something new.
Sofia: I use organic sounds from my mom's garden often. I try to create a story around a song and try to organize the ideas that enter my mind. I'll use melody and different elements to match the story in my mind.
EM: So you think to use the sound of an elephant for example, would you find that sample online or try to recreate that sound yourself?
Sofia: Sometimes I will just record sounds with my phone, such as birds, water, or a crowd. Yet an elephant, well there are no elephants in my garden. So I'll use a sample for something like that where I cannot access it without having to travel the world.
EM: Do you record all your own vocals like the really robotic sound on your new hit, "Zaza"?
Sofia: Yeah, at that particular moment I was really emotional and I think if people hear the song, they might think it's crying. I was not crying though.
EM: Are you originally from Berlin?
Sofia: No, I'm originally from Peru in South America. My family was always travelling and changing countries when I was young. One country that I grew up in and that I consider home is Germany. I also lived a while in New York though, I'm a little bit of a nomad.
EM: How has growing up in a city like Berlin influenced your musical growth?
Sofia: Berlin is very inspiring and has really organic energy. Sometimes when I don't go out at night, I'll wake up really early, take a break, and go into a club at 7am. The new material I'm making is really Berlin influenced. I needed to put my past away and move on as an artist. Now that I'm here in Berlin I'm experiencing a new change.
EM: As an artist, do you have options and possibilities to network yourself in Berlin's culture?
Sofia: There are so many people moving to Berlin at the moment and there are so many musicians here! Kompakt Records is really doing well and Dauwd is an artist to keep your eyes on. There is always interesting artists doing something new. Berlin is great especially for electronic music.
EM: Do you speak fluent German?
Sofia: Yes, I speak better German than Spanish. I also speak English well and a little Italian. I want to learn Japanese next, that's my new goal.
EM: Where do you find a lot of your creative inspiration?
Sofia: I watch a lot of movies to be honest. I love science-fiction movies as well. I enjoy really old movies from the 80's and also films Pedro Almodovar, he is a famous Spanish director.
EM: What is your favourite movie that you've watched recently? I'll say in the past month.
Sofia: (Laughs) Ahhh, you can't ask me this! It's such a hard question... I'd have to say, "Todo Sobre Mi Madre".
EM: Do you frequently play DJ sets or live performances and do you consider ever going on a world wide tour?
Sofia: Yes, I do both. At the moment I mainly do DJ sets. I would love to come to North America though on tour. I've mainly been on tour in Europe.
EM: Where are four of your favourite cities to play in the world?
Sofia: Lima [in Peru], New York, Berlin, and Tel Aviv [in Israel].
EM: Series of quick questions:
EM: What are you most proud of to have accomplished so far?
Sofia: I'm happy to make music the way I want to make my music sound. If you hear my music, it's not perfect, but I like this because it reflects me. I really enjoy how my music is playful and child-like.
EM: Longest show you've ever played for?
Sofia: It was in Hamburg, Germany, I played a DJ set and at the end I was dying. I played for about 4 hours until 6am. I was running out of music by the end.
EM: Smallest crowd that you've played in front of?
Sofia: I played to a show of 10 people once in Nürnberg, Germany. I dedicated every person in the crowd a song and asked them to come up on stage. The worst thing about playing to such a small crowd is that you feel sorry that they are going to feel sorry for you (laughs). You don't need to feel sorry though, we can still all have fun!
EM: Last show you attended, but did not play at?
Sofia: I went to see Caribou recently, they are one of the best live performing bands by far.
EM: First 5 things you do on your phone in the morning?
Sofia:I always check my emails to see if anyone wrote to me. I'm on standard German time, but all my management is in America so I cannot answer people during the day.
EM: Who would you want to collaborate with from another genre entirely?
Sofia: Well yesterday I received a response from an Opera singer who wants to work with me. She's collaborated previously with Jay Z, Kanye West, and John Legend so I was really taken by surprise. Her name is Aude Cardona and I'm very excited to work with her.
EM: What program do you use to produce music?
Sofia: Ableton. Although I originally started on Garageband.
EM: Weapon of choice in a post-apocalyptic world?
Sofia: A bow and arrow. I this this weapon is neat, it makes a really cool sound.
EM: Lastly, what type of milk do you usually drink?
Sofia: Soya, Coconut, and Chocolate Milk.
EM: Awesome, thanks for your time today Sofia. It's been a real pleasure and I'm excited to see what else you have coming up this year!