Sophie B Hawkins

Sophie B Hawkins

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Sophie B. Hawkins continues to take one bold step after another to remain true to herself, her spirit and her music.

Biography

Sophie B. Hawkins is lost in the WILDERNESSÂ…right where she wants to be.

On WILDERNESS--her first independently recorded, conceived and released album, co-produced with production wizards Christian and Frank Berman (Amber, Baha Men, Real McCoy)--the provocative singer/songwriter declares her freedom with, paradoxically, the most accessible project of her career.

"What's so beautiful about this record is that I trusted my instincts as a musician and a songwriter but more fully as a human being," she says. "So many people are throwing up their hands because the world has gotten so dark, but I went against the current and I actually found more light and positive energy. That was a great feeling."

Freedom and contrariness: Two important elements in this artist's character play pivotal roles on WILDERNESS. As mistress of her own fortune and helmswoman of Trumpet Swan Records with her manager Gigi Gaston, Hawkins experienced her most liberated creative process on this album since before being signed by Sony. Light splashes through these tracks: The dizzy downtown swirl of "Meet Me On The Rooftop," the sly tease of "Surfer Girl," and the festivity of "Blue" reflect her state of mind as much as her delight in thwarting expectations.

But this wouldn't be a Sophie B. Hawkins project without some darkness, and it does crop up, most notably in "Angel Of Darkness," whose wounds bleed through subdued verses and break in an anguished chorus, and the sole cover on WILDERNESS, a rendition of "Feeling Good" that seems haunted by invisible yet irresistible danger.

All of this comes from a new clarity in how Hawkins looks at herself and her world. "The danger of WILDERNESS is in just seeing reality," she explains. "The reality is that we're all in the wilderness, and we have to survive on our own, and things constantly change and if we don't accept that, then we're just trying to fool ourselves. But the beauty of WILDERNESS is that sometimes you can wake up in the morning and feel so sweet and whole."

For Hawkins, the path into this place began in the waning days of her major label affiliation. In 1992 she emerged from a fierce bidding war with a debut album, TONGUES & TAILS, that quickly went gold, earned her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, and fired a single, "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover," into the Top Five. Another gold album, WHALER, followed two years later, along with a single, "As I Lay Me Down," that would chart in Billboard for a record-breaking sixty-seven weeks. By the time she got to TIMBRE in 1999, she had won universal respect for her rare blend of multi-instrumental and vocal talent, songwriting craftsmanship, and gutsy honesty.

That's good, right? Yes, but it's also complicated, as Hawkins attests: "Before I was signed, I just wanted to get into the system, even though I didn't know what that meant. After I got signed I found that I was confused by all the mixed messages from the label about what I'd have to do to keep their support. I fought and fought to maintain my identity and grow as an artist at the same time, but when I realized that to get their support on TIMBRE I'd have to start working with schlocky writers and totally sell out, I decided to pack up my marimba and split. I had been really flexible; I wanted them to be excited, so I spent a lot of time thinking, 'What do they want?' But I never could figure out what that was. And I really tried. I really wanted to be successful for them and for myself, but I just never was."

"That's when I said, 'Well, I've gone as far as I can go, and all I have now is myself.' It was exactly like going into the wilderness--beautiful and scary."

With that, Hawkins worked out an agreement that allowed her to leave her label while retaining ownership of the masters to TIMBRE. She re-released it on her Trumpet Swan imprint and hit the road-on her own, with her band in a station wagon. "It was absolutely great," she exults. "I got in touch with my fans at a really deep level. I've been touring my ass off ever since. I'm living the life of my art, walking the path my music makes for me."

Her songwriting routine reinvigorated itself, too. "I used to be more dogmatic, more disciplined and segregated about my time to work; now I have to jump from one song to another, or score a scene in a movie, then get out the door for a performance at a moment's notice. The illusion of control over my schedule is totally obsolete. There is no way to say, 'I can't do that right now.' It's 'Yes, thank you for the opportunity, whatever it takes to get the music out there.'"

That's also how most of the material for WILDERNESS came together. As she wrote and cut her demos, an unusual picture took shape. "It was an incredibly bright period for me," she says, "and these songs were right for the time. It feels to me like a really commercial record, but that wasn't' intentional, of course. My next one will be completely different, but that is as it should

Discography

Wilderness (2004)
Timbre (2001)
Timbre (1999)
Whaler (1992)
Tongues and Tails (1992)

Set List

Varies