Q&A with Sofia Donavan

18 year-old singer-songwriter, Sofia Donavan just released her brand new EP, Left To The Clouds on May 19th. Described as a diary of songs by Donavan, Left To The Clouds is her most personal release yet, and with plans to play as much as possible for the rest of the year, it goes without saying that Donavan is sure to touch the hearts of many with this release. 

Read the entire interview below, and check out a live session of her track, "Note To Tennessee" below! 

Interview by Dom Vigil

Congratulations on the release of Left To The Clouds! Can you give us a little bit of background about the EP? What was the inspiration behind it, if any?

This EP is a collection of songs I wrote during the last 1-2 years. When I began working on the EP Jason Elgin, my producer, and I sat down and listened to over 60 rough demos of songs I had written over the years eventually cutting down to the final 5 you hear on the EP. Once we decided on the songs we were going to record we played around with different ideas for the sound we wanted to give this EP and listened to a lot of other artists like The Civil Wars and Alison Krauss that inspired the alternative country sound we ended up pursuing. 
 

Were there any stories you wanted to be able to tell or any subjects you wanted to touch on with Left To The Clouds?

Since this EP is more of a collection of songs, I would say that the EP serves as a diary of subjects and stories that I either experienced first-hand or felt inspired by from the ages of 15 to 17.
 

I feel like there’s a lot of heart and soul in this EP, especially in “Note To Tennessee” - can you tell us a little bit about the song?

The initial idea for 'Note To Tennessee' came about 2 years ago. I wrote it during a time when it really dawned on me how difficult it would be to achieve my dream of being a musician. From this feeling I got the idea to try and write a story about unconditional love as a metaphor for the fact that no matter how much you love or give to your passion you can still end having never 'made it' in the music industry. Then before I went into the studio I decided to change the chorus a little bit to create a more complete sounding song.

I read that you made the decision to move to the US to focus on your education and music career - how do you feel that the move has affected your songwriting or your music?

As a songwriter that has been heavily influenced by country, folk and Americana music, moving to the US has felt a lot like returning home to the roots of where my inspiration comes from. As much as I love the UK and deeply respect the countless talented musicians that have surfaced from there, being in a country with cities like Nashville, Memphis and New York has been pretty priceless as it’s given me access to an insane amount of new music to be inspired from, music that if I had stayed in the UK I may have taken years to come by.

What has been your most difficult challenge since moving and focusing on your music career?

I’m very close to my family so moving so far away from them has definitely been hard, but having their continued support always reminds me I did the right thing. Balancing college and my music career is another thing that took a little while to get used to because you have to be very disciplined and learn to use any spare time very effectively.

On the flip side, what has been the most rewarding thing?

Connecting more with the American side of myself has been really great! I’ve gotten to travel around the US, meeting new people and bringing my music to a much larger audience. Before I moved to the US I was terrified of being alone in a fairly new country so being able to look back at how I was able to conquer my fears is very empowering.  

How do you feel that Left To The Clouds has grown from your Square One EP? Obviously everyone grows and changes after a few years, so do you still feel connected to those songs?

While I think that Left To The Clouds shows how I’ve matured as a songwriter through the last few years, the main difference with this EP and the Square One EP is the production of the songs. The production on the songs from the Square One EP is fairly acoustic while with Left To The Clouds Jason Elgin, my producer, gave me access to an amazing group of incredibly talented musicians that were able to give the songs a much fuller production. Even though they are different I remain connected to both EPs because I think they’ve taught me a lot about what I would want to do production-wise if I were to record a full length album.

Is there any one song in particular on Left To The Clouds that you connect with the most when performing it live?

I love performing "Rare As Gold" because of the changes that occur throughout the whole song. It’s the kind of song that when I start playing I think to myself ‘just you wait’ because when the rest of the band comes in it’s really something that gets the audience’s attention even if they’ve never heard the song before. It’s also a lot of fun playing something that’s a little more up-tempo because I start seeing people tapping their feet of even dancing a little, something you rarely get to see as a folk inspired songwriter, 

What would you like listeners, both new and old, to take away from Left To The Clouds?

My dream has always been to create music that listeners can somehow relate to, and Left To The Clouds is a collection of very different stories that I hope people will connect with. Music, both listening to and writing, has always been my favorite form of therapy and at times certain songs have carried me through difficult times. If one of my songs has the ability to have this kind of effect on even just one person, I will be the happiest girl in the world.

Now that the EP is out, what is the rest of 2015 looking like for you?

I'm really excited to gig now! I've spent most of the year working behind the scenes on the release of the EP so I'm really happy that people will finally be able to hear it! I'll be focusing my summer on playing shows, promoting my new EP as well as traveling to Nashville for the first time, which I am really looking forward to. 

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