March 28 2019

Annie O Presents: Sophie Auster

New York-Standard Sounds
Sophie Auster brings her new album Next Time to The Top Of The Standard. "Sophie Auster seems to be poised for stardom, with the vocal ability of a jazz singer, the knack of writing music with the edginess of rock, yet the catchiness of pop and the sensuality of soul, and the look of a trend-setting fashion model.” - The Patriot Ledger. Annie O caught up with Sophie before her show on March 27 at the Top of The Standard.

Why did you call your album Next Time? 

I landed on “next time” for two reasons. In the process of making this record, I had to throw away an almost completed album, that I had recorded in New York. Unsatisfied with the songs and production, I started the process all over again and eventually made something that felt like me, hence “next time” being evocative of this experience. Many of the songs on the record have themes of rebirth and learning from mistakes, as well. 

How did you connect with the producer of the album?

I connected with Tore through my friend, Nicole Atkins, whose album he had produced. She told me how nice it was to work with him and suggested we connect. 

Tell us the story behind the song Mexico. 

Mexico is inspired by a trip I took to the Yucatán and also by Out of the Past, a 1947 film starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. Greer plays a femme fatale who runs off to Mexico with her boyfriend’s money and Mitchum is contracted to go find her. I think the colors and vibrancy of my trip to Mexico coupled with this film noir swimming around in my consciousness gave way to what eventually became the song. 

You are about to embark on a big European tour—is that your first time?

I have played in Europe many times, but I will be playing new territories on this tour that I have never hit before, so that’s very exciting! 

You were signed very early on to a label—how did that come about? 

I made a record with a Brooklyn band but when a family friend heard the album, she passed it along to someone at a label in France. A couple years later, I got the call that they wanted to release the album. It was all by chance and a stroke of luck. 

What are your main musical influences?

I grew up singing the songbooks of Gershwin, Ellington, Berlin, and Porter. I think my love of these songs deeply influenced how I write and sing. People often remark that I have classic quality in my style and I think it directly comes from these early influences. 

What are you listening too these days?

Right now, I’m listening to Daniel Wilson, Aaron Lee Tasjsn, Kurt Vile, Sybille Baier, Molly Drake, John Lennon, and Norma Tangea.

How did growing up in a house with 2 writers influence creativity? 

I think it’s lucky to have parents who understand a wild dream. It’s very hard for people outside the arts to take an ambition like writing or becoming a musician seriously. I had an example at home that the impossible was possible if you work hard enough at it. They are definitely role models for me and have influenced how I approach my work. 

I understand that you played a few years ago at The Standard, East Village, as part of the Annie O music series and now at ToTS. What can we expect from your show on Wednesday?

I’m very excited to be performing tomorrow at the Top of The Standard. I will be accompanied by my full band performing songs from my album coming out on April 12. I’m fresh off an East Coast tour, so I’m rip roaring to go, and having more fun with these songs than ever before! 

The Standard
INTERVIEW BY
Annie O