by The Alchemist
From the words she selects to the notes and chords she plays, the NewYork-based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist has dedicated the greater part of her life to mastering the art form of songwriting.
Sofia St Jean grew up in the suburbs of Clarksburg, Maryland, where she would begin producing music in her early teens. As an individual with eclectic taste and an open mind, she immersed herself in music from all over the world. She attributes this to her Haitian heritage, and has always felt at ‘home’ in a variety of genres. Self-dubbed as ‘wavy music’, Sofia goes with the flow and lets her intuition guide her when coming up with songs. Above all, her goal with her music is to evoke and awaken the deepest, rawest emotions buried inside; often touching on themes of finding peace and introspection.
The music they played on their first gig was complex stuff. Tunes were long, labyrinthine, and sometimes unwieldy, with multiple sections and phrasings that were audibly technically challenging. They used odd meters, too: Whalen’s pretty “Long Walk,” probably the centerpiece of the evening’s first set, and Kramer’s subsequent, bass-driven “Identity Politics” were in mind-boggling 13/4 and 9/4 times. Or they would have been mind-boggling—if the material hadn’t been so alluring, the ensemble so polished, the rhythm so smooth and swinging.
Sofia St Jean had this to say about the track:
Promise Land was a journey to create just as it is a journey to listen to. When writing this song I started at the chorus: “Hope it’s not too far, I’ve been flying with no direction.” It felt very fitting at a time because I was still finding myself and finding out what I really wanted to say. I developed the rest of the song in the studio selectively putting pieces together; during that process I came up with the title by claiming “There are no promises in this land” and the real promise land is “not too far.” This song begs the listener to think of what a promise land means to them, specifically in the first line of verse one: “Tell me what you see.” For the production side of things I created a world traveling from sea, land, then sky. This song reminds me to spend my time wisely and to remember that I choose how I see my life.
This track is hard to just put in one genre as it brings so many elements of various types of music. It combines incredibly catchy pop lyrics with other vocal elements that have so much emotion that resembles that of a soul track. It can makes one dream of the endless possibilities that the world has to offer, while also making them feel as if anything is possible. Check out the track below.
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Flow-bending artist aSanTIS discusses art, culture, and whether sound can solve the world’s problems in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
My interview with Amy Santis aka aSanTIS began in the most unexpected way. The Maryland-based flow-bending artist and lyrical storyteller came prepared to engage in conversation around questions I had posed – and she also brought one or two of her own thoughtful prompts based on her curiosities around my view of learning.
This practice of taking in her surroundings deeply through observation and inquiry has come naturally to aSanTIS ever since she was a young child. In terms of her early starts in music, she notes that she began as a discerning listener. “Just listening to music from my mom, on the radio, just being a consumer in the world of sound. But I think mainly, my mom has always loved dancing and listening to music, so that was sort of like second nature. We play music at gatherings, we play music in the car, and these songs are sort of like diaries that take us into a specific place.”
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