#MusicMonday Q&A with Sonja Midtune

We had the opportunity to talk with a young musician regarding her career as a musician and looking forward as she looks to advance her career. Hopefully, this will give […]

We had the opportunity to talk with a young musician regarding her career as a musician and looking forward as she looks to advance her career. Hopefully, this will give you a little insight to the life of a musician just setting out.

The Next Bar Stool: Tell us a little bit about your musical self?
Sonja Midtune: My “musical self”?  I think I understand this question!  I listen to a mixture of current pop music, grunge 90s, and classics that end up reflecting me and my music.  On stage in between songs, I get really goofy and seem to leave my filter at home, so whatever comes out, comes out!  I’ve started to write more music that reflects that side of me, because it’s often how I feel on stage: a little crazy with a lot of energy.  Musically, I am artistic, but I’m not confined to tying to be as artistic and “deep” as possible.

TNBS: Who are/were some of your musical influences?
SM: I get inspiration from some of my favorite records like “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac, but also “Continuum” by John Mayer.  I like to feel current, but classic, and that comes out through my music.  Those are overall influences, but usually when I start to write a song, I think about how I will want it to be produced, and then look up my favorite songs that will push me in the right direction.  For example, when I was writing my song “Break Up With Me,” I was directly thinking of certain ironic Taylor Swift songs.

TNBS: You grew up in the Minneapolis area which is known for it’s music scene. How did the great music coming out of the area affect you as a musician and songwriter?
SM: I never thought hard about how MN local music  specifically  influenced me until I moved to Hollywood.  There are a lot of bands and artists out here that are solely looking to get famous or catch your attention.  Music with MN as it’s origin reflects the state’s overall genuineness.  Take the band Atmosphere for example.  They are hiphop/r&b and have beats I’d love to hear on the radio in LA (and I sometimes do), but they have such real and down-to-earth topics that sets them apart from rap jerks and inspires others to create.

TNBS: What experiences along the way have influenced your music?
SM: To keep it simple, I’d say break-ups, travel, and friends.  I could write songs for years based off of relationships I’ve had.  I’ve traveled to study music in Chile and Paris.  Although nothing in my music sounds Chilean or French, those experiences spawned major trails of thought for me.

TNBS: What brought you out to the Los Angeles area?
SM:I actually have the exact same answer for this question! After college, I found myself well-traveled and single, with my friends telling me to “go big or STAY HOME”.  So I went big.

TNBS: Female song-writers have a tough time in music because often they are pushed into a corner of having to either be a bubble gum pop star or an angry indie grrrl. How do you navigate as an independent female voice who doesn’t really fit into those categories?
SM: Ha-ha!  Personably, I love those two categories.  And honestly, I’m not worried about being placed into either.  If it happens, it happens, but now a days having a cool music video and a good song can get you anywhere!  The industry is still dying for good songs and always will be.

TNBS: Describe the song writing process for you.
SM: My most successful songs started by writing a catchy chorus first, or creating a guitar groove and letting the lyrics come naturally.   When it comes to lyrics, “writing what you know” really works for me.  It’s hard to think of something to say when I’m sitting on the couch, drinking tea, trying to come up with clever lines.  But it’s easy when I am biking, driving, working, or doing something that springs an idea into my head.  I write it down, record it on my iPhone, and then try to relive the experience when I have time to put it to music.

TNBS: What do you do to over come writer’s block?
SM: Several things.  I went to school for music (classical orchestral composition) and we have many tricks of the trade to get the juices flowing.  If lyrics don’t propel me into the next section, I write the next guitar section, or visa versa.  Writing poems helps, taking a weekend trip helps too.  If all else fails, I shelf the song.  Nobody’s pressuring me to write, and I’m not performing it until it’s perfect.

TNBS: What was it like releasing your first single? Hearing feedback? Putting yourself out there?
SM: It was such a surprise.  I thought that I would hear a lot of feedback from friends and family (and I did), but what I didn’t expect was all the opportunities that it gave me.  Somehow, I’ve broken through LA’s skin, and I get inquiries to perform around the city a few times a week. I have to sort through them and take my pick!  People I don’t know show up to my gigs, and VERY OCCASIONALLY I have someone on the street come up to me and say, “Hey!  Are you Sonja?  I was at your show!!!!” 😀  I’m like, “wuuuuuuuuut”

TNBS: If you could collaborate with any musician alive or dead, who would your Top 3 be?
SM:
1. John Mayer
2. Pharrell
3. Gwen Stefani with No Doubt
They’re all alive!  Gwen Stefani is one of my all-time heroes that made me stop listening to emo music and made me start dancing around my room. Even though people have doubts about her solo career, she’s timeless.

TNBS: You mention John Mayer a few times, is there a little crush there?
SM: Definitely!  Girls my age were made to like John Mayer.  I mean, come on, Continuum came out when I was 17 and in love for the first time. It was my soundtrack. Funny that you ask though because TODAY I just book a recording session with Sean Hurley and Aaron Sterling, John Mayer’s bassist and drummer.  We’ll be recording an EP the last week of March and releasing it this Spring! We have to fit it in before they go back on tour with JM.

TNBS: What can fans of Sonja Midtune expect in the near future?
SM: Lots 🙂  The biggest thing will be the EP!  I’m thinking about including my already recorded song “Break Up With Me” which I’m in pre-production for a music video.  I also have many shows coming up and am expecting to tour the midwest this summer around August/September.  You can see any updates on my Facebook page: Sonja Midtune.

TNBS: Would you rather have fingernails for hair or hair for fingernails?
SM: Oh god -weird.  I’d probably rather have fingernails for hair and rock a cool hat.

TNBS: A cool hat like Pharrell’s?
SM: Yes definitely.  I’d probably use the rare situation to get on the news with a plea for someone to make me a hair-hat-wig.  Or I could hang with a doo-rag.

Sonja can be found at www.sonjamidtune.com.

Photo credit: www.tywatkins.com

Check out her music here.

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