It's rare that for a single moment the universe stops and focuses on one song. But that's exactly what happened when a clever little single entitled 'Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover' started getting noticed. In fact, it reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and MTV found the original version of the video to be a bit too racy. (This was the age before The Real World and those conservative New Jersey artisans currently being portrayed on another Music Television project that has nothing to do with music.) For that single moment, Sophie B. Hawkins had the ear of the music world. In fairness, her first album is well crafted and well-deserved of the critical praise it received including a Grammy for Best New Artist. She went on to repeat her success with her second album, 1994's uneven 'Whaler' which featured AOR radio staple 'As I Lay Me Down'. 'Down' was a pop hit, but lacked the unique fire and passion that made 'Damn' timeless. 1998 proved to be a pivotal year for Hawkins as a documentary by her longtime partner Gigi Gaston entitled 'The Cream Will Rise' was released covering in depth Hawkins deeply complex relationship with her family. That yeah, she was drawn into a contentious and bitter dispute with her label Sony Music over the production of third album 'Timbre', including a bizarre argument concerning the removal of a banjo track from one of the songs. 'Timbre' was eventually released in 1999, but without any promotional support from Sony.
The DRB recently talked with Sophie about her views on the world, her career, and what should be considered the greatest horror film of all time.
Has your career progressed in the way, as a younger artist, you imagined it would ?
My career has not progressed the way I'd thought it would, because I never thought I'd have a career! I always knew I'd write songs and be an avid musician, and paint, but I've become more than I imagined, and now I am much less than I imagine I will be.
What has been the most disappointing aspect of your career as a professional musician?
I had so little confidence as a performer, and I've come to realize that performing is one of my strongest and most creative states. Had I pushed myself to tour more earlier on, with the first single, and perform more in general, I would have a bigger reach today. I still build my audience, but the crucial building time was my first album and Sony saw me as a radio singles artist. I could have done more out of the box. Damn it!
Does Christmas hold a special meaning for you ? What's your favorite Christmas song ?
What experience from your years of touring has taught you the most about yourself ?
Touring has taught me that my most vital and creative self is the unconscious and unselfconscious Sophie B. Hawkins who lets it all out in front of a curious audience. I am at my best when I'm raw, scared and tired.
What can we expect from SBH in the next two years as a musician ?
Right now, I am figuring out how best to get my new material out. I'm studying the internet market as we speak and will definitely get a song and video out soon. I am the lyricist and composer on a musical Gigi Gaston brought me in on, it's a totally original work and we've had the first reading in NYC with a stellar cast, including Kristin Chenoweth. I am very passionate about this project. Also, I've begun a book, and I hope to finish it by the end of this year.
What challenges are left for you to overcome ?
The feeling that I can't get my work out there the way I'd like to, I have no problem creating the stuff, and so I'm working hard on myself, my mind, my attitude to break those barriers down.
Of which of your works are you the most proud of and why ?
'As I Lay Me Down' because it seems to have affected so many people in a positive way, as if it's a song from everyone's child self. I think that song came through me like an angel, and I am so blessed to have been open to it and given voice to it. It's the purity within everyone that came through me. It happened a second time, in the form of my son, Dashiell.
Is our country headed on the right course ?
I feel our country is headed in the correct direction now, because the people of America have realized that materialism, politicism and narcissism are self destructive. I feel we are taking responsibility and not looking to Washington to take care of us and even represent us, we are holding those we elect accountable. If our economy gets worse I believe the people can take the bull by the horns, be mentally strong and resourceful. In a way, we've grown spiritually through the challenges. Each American has to take care of their own business and when we do, we raise the bar for those we empower to make the laws. We are awake now, as a country, and are putting our families, our neighbors and our country ahead of party ideology.
What's the best horror movie ever made ?
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Scary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If it all ended tomorrow would you feel that you accomplished everything you wanted to in music ?
If it all ended tomorrow I'd be so pissed, I haven't nearly done what I think I can now do, even with this musical. Please God don't let it end tomorrow!
for the DRB
*edited for clarity and content
*edited for clarity and content