By Steven Graham
Sofia Talvik is a folk singer songwriter from Sweden who has spent the last 10 months touring all across America. Her travels have taken her through 32 states (several more than I’ve seen) playing shows both small and large as well as events like South by Southwest (SXSW).
This week Sofia was spending some time in Everett doing an interview on 90.7 KSER with Nordic Roots and Branches host Karen Pauley and preparing for her shows at the Triple Door in Seattle and at Northern in Olympia. While she was here I got a chance to sit down with her and talk about where she’s been and where she’s going.
Check the discussion below and at the very bottom hear a song from her latest album, “The Owls Are Not What They Seem,” which is currently available as a pick-your-price download here. Sofia has a beautiful voice and every time I start to listen to her album I just keep running back to her song “The War.”
Me: How long have you been on the road?
Sofia: Almost 10 months. We started on December 1st in Florida then went all the way to Texas and played SXSW in March then went up the east coast to Boston, then we started heading out toward the west coast.
Me: So you have seen a little of everything.
Sofia: Not everything but 32 states.
Me: So after 10 months how is everything going?
Sofia: It’s been great. It’s up and down all the time. Sometimes we have great shows and sometimes we play for two people, you never know. But it’s a lot of fun. We get to see so much and meet so many wonderful people.
Me: You says sometimes you play for two people but how was it playing a big festival like SXSW?
Sofia: SXSW is always a lot of fun but it’s just crazy. I did eight shows in five days. It’s always so hectic, you don’t really have time to experience stuff you just run around and try to make it to the next gig.
We had some other great shows too. We did one in Chicago for about 160 people. Of course that’s a lot of fun but smaller shows are great too because you get to connect with the audience.
Me: So where at in Sweden are you from?
Sofia: I am from the west coast but I live in Stockholm.
Me: When I think about Swedish music I think about pop artists like Robyn, The Knife, even the Cardigans. Your stuff is very different from that. Is your type of folk music something that is popular in Sweden.
Sofia: I wouldn’t say it’s very popular over there. That is why I am over here. It is more of an American genre. There is a lot of pop and rock music in Sweden. I have always had a better response to my music over here. There is a longer tradition here for folk music.
So I guess coming here was the natural step for me after being over there for years. I got great reviews on my stuff over here so I felt like I should come here to spread my music.
Me: So if this type of music wasn’t popular in Sweden who were some of your early influences that inspired you to write this type of music?
Sofia: When I was in high school I listened to lots of 60s music like Janis Joplin and The Doors. Then I was into brit pop for a while. Lately I listen to lots of singer songwriters like Aimee Mann, Neko Case, and Susan Vega. I have had a lot of different influences.
Me: I have really been enjoying “The Owls Are Not What They Seem” and I keep coming back to “The War.” Is that song about anything specific?
Sofia: When I write songs it’s like a gig saw puzzle with different experiences, thoughts, or emotions and stuff like that I put together into one song. Usually it’s hard to say “this song is about this or that” and be specific.
I did a podcast in Chicago and the host said “I can really relate to that song because it’s about touring and drinking too much and sleeping too little” and I thought thank you for telling me because I had no idea. (laughter)
So I think it’s hard to say but it’s best when people just get their own idea of what the songs are about. I think that’s when you know you’ve written a good song because people can connect to it and feel it’s about them and it means something different to everyone.
Me: So what’s next now that you have been here 10 months?
Sofia: We still have a year to go. We want to play more festivals next year. This year has been trying everything out and see how it works. Maybe go back to venues we really liked and do shows and some we weren’t able to hit this last time.