Interview with Sophie Hiller.
Some say Sophie Hiller is Barnet’s answer to Aretha Franklin. Already lauded by Amy Winehouse, nineteen year old Miss Hiller has now also been supporting Sir Tom Jones on his latest string of gigs. International Life caught up with her after her Las Vegas debut to see what all the fuss is about.
Q: So how come you’re so good?
A: Ha ha, I tell you what, how about I start from the beginning?
Q: Yes please.
A: I was born into a really musical family, so the singing was bound to happen really. My dad's a musician, as is my uncle, grandpa, great uncle and the list goes on. It meant I was brought up listening to great music as a child, people like Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin who've really been big influences on me. I started getting up and singing at gigs when I was about 11 and when I was around 13 and heard my dad working away in the studio, I decided I wanted to write a song with him and record it… So that's where it all began!
Q: Tell us of your singing career so far, you implausibly young thing you?
A: Well, to start with the highlights: this gig I'm doing at the moment with Tom Jones is unbelievable. I'm having such an amazing time. Other than that, being able to work with some really talented writers, musicians and producers and playing some fantastic venues around London. The Royal Albert Hall is up there with the best. I can't think of many lowlights, only the occasional feelings of frustration when plans fall through.
Q: Dancing and singing, we’re told you do both very well. Which do you do best and which would you give up if you had to?
A: I absolutely love dancing, I started off with baby ballet and it all progressed from there. My favourites are street dance and tap. Although I'm really into my dancing, singing has always been the favourite and the priority; so I guess if held at gunpoint, I’d have to give up dancing.
Q:We know you have lots of them, but what kind of person is your typical fan?
A: I wouldn't really know how to describe a typical fan, all I know is I get some really nice messages from fans enjoying my music. So the only way I can describe them is as being very complimentary.
Q: What’s your favourite thing about being a singer, surely the chance to be a diva?
A: No. Not yet anyway, ha. I love the performing aspect of it, so getting up on stage and knowing everyone is watching and enjoying what you're doing is great. I also love recording, I have such fun in the studio, and there's nothing like the feeling of listening back to a track and you think, wow that's it! There's so much fun stuff that comes along with it, like getting to play gorgeous venues and meeting people who are really enjoying what you do. What's not to like really?
Q: For better of worse, who do people compare you to the most?
A: I've had Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone and Christina Aguilera a few times, which of course is complimentary as they're all great artists. I'd worry if I got it too much though, being original is so important.
Q: Did Amy Winehouse call you, “one of the most exciting, talented new artists around"?
A: She did indeed! How exciting is that?
Q: Very. How did you respond?
A: Well it's an amazing compliment to hear that from anyone, let alone from one of the most talented female artists around.
Q: Have you ever played the game, Amy Winehands? You duck tape two bottles of wine to your hands, and are not allowed to remove them until they are both consumed.
Q: So the big call up from Sir Tom, you must have been Delilah-ted?
A: Delighted doesn't even cover it! It took me a long time to actually register that I wasn't imagining it all.
Q: The schedule looked pretty intense, how did it all go?
A: It went great. There’s lots of hard work in learning the tracks, rehearsing with the other vocalists and sound checking, but it all pays off. Going out there and doing a gig every night is so much fun, it flies by every night, I come offstage saying "Oh, can we go and do it again!?”
Q: When you warm up for a big show do you have a ritual you go through? Honey on the throat; humidifier for the lungs; a prayer to the god of song and dance?
A: All of those sound like good ideas actually, may have to steal some. I make sure I'm warmed up, lots of scales, arpeggios and chewing on imaginary toffee to warm up my mouth. I drink lots of water and then will generally do a bit of crazy dancing around backstage to get myself all pumped and ready to go.
Q: We know and love Sir Tom for his powerful voice and overt sexuality – does he still have both?
A: Oh yes. Tom's voice is so strong. When you hear him live for the first time, the sheer power of it really takes your breath away. As for the overt sexuality, let's just say all those women in the crowd don't throw their knickers on the stage for nothing.
Q: Do you think he’s better looking now he’s let his grey hair flourish?
A: Definitely, it certainly hasn't put off any of his female fans either.
Q: Did he give you any insider tips for singer success?
A: I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you, and all your readers. These things are secret!
Q: How will you know when you’ve made it to the big time, a Wikipaedia page?
A: Well a Wikipaedia page would be nice, you can make them for your self though can't you? So that doesn't really count. I think that day I turn the radio on in my car and my song's playing, I’ll be pretty pleased with that.
Q: Tell us about the debut album?
A: I've been working on it for a long time; there are tracks on there that I wrote when I was 15. Most of it is co-written with my Dad, Lawrence Hiller, and some also with other writers. I love writing with other people, it brings you out of your comfort zone and forces you to come up with things you may not have on your own. It has a real old-school jazzy, soul influence which I love.
Q: When is it out?
A: At the moment that depends on what happens with Mr Jones!
Q: What are the big plans for 2011?
A: Some more touring would be fantastic, album release and lots more gigging.
Q: What is you favourite interview question?
A: 'What is your favourite thing about being a singer', because when I answer it, I think, wow I love what I do.
Q: What is your most hated?
A: I hate any sort of question where I have to make a decision - do you prefer A or B - as decision making is not my forte, it stresses me out.
Q: If I was to ask you out for a drink, would you A) say yes or B) say no?
A: Oh you.
Q: What question(s) have I missed?
A: Err, can't think of any.
Q: And what is the answer to this question?
A: The answer is jelly.
Like what you see? Share and save