Keith Elcombe speaks to former Israeli Gothsters, Sophya

1. Firstly, please tell us who you are and where you are from.
SOPHYA - Well, the group is located now in Amsterdam but originally was formed in Israel , after 2 members from the original line up quit the band 2 years ago, The Haze , our new bass player joined the band and he's originally coming from Italy .

2. Do you feel that coming originally from Israel has influenced, and helped to shape your sound today?
SOPHYA - In a way we're sure it did , living most of our lives in Israel , we were exposed to a large variety of styles of music , from many places in the world. Most of the influences that we can think of that were added to us coming from there , are more ethnic and maybe a bit of middle eastern music , so tough we're not focusing in this kinds of music , we're sure it had a contribution to the way we write and sound.

3. What brought all three of you together, and what was your motivation for forming the band, Sophya
SOPHYA - We formed the band back in 1996 without many plans other than being great music lovers and having a passion for creating something of our own. By 1998 we were 5 in the band and after a short while 4 of us had continued as sophya throughout all the period of releasing and performing with our first album THE AGE OF SOPHYA until late 2001. It was only later in 2002 when The Haze had joined the group after 2 members had left the band at the time.

4. If you were describing your music to someone who had never heard it, what would you describe it as?
SOPHYA - as the people who are creating the music , it's hard to name our style by basic categories , it can be related to the darkwave & alternative scene , but with our own way of expressing things , the way we believe it should sound and be felt... while creating we always put our emotions in the highest priority , and this is what we try to create with our music , trying to get the listeners into our deepest emotions .

5. How did the collaboration with Ronny Moorings (Clan of Xymox) come about?
SOPHYA - We met Ronny after Idan had met him , when he first arrived to Amsterdam. After listening to some tracks that he got from Idan , Ronny had decided to sign us to his own label 'stichting xymox control' , saying he loved the material and that it made him feel as excited as hearing the 'Cocteau twins' for the first time. Other then releasing albums through Ronny's label we also had a chance to take part of 2 clan of xymox projects with Sonja singing on 'the same dream' from 'notes from the underground ' and Idan remixing 'Into her web' from 'remix from the underground'

6. Do you feel that you may have struggled to get a good record label deal had it not been for this?
SOPHYA- It's hard to say , we never really tried....but we're glad that this is how the things fell into place. Of course having Ronny as our label manager is helping people to know that we're around which might have been more difficult if it wasn't for that .. it's very difficult these days to gain the public awareness only by recording and performing even
the best music, so we feel lucky that from our first album we had been exposed to a wide crowd that was mixed of course with a lot of 'xymox' fans .

7. How much of an influence has the modern Goth scene had on your sound, and musical direction?
SOPHYA - we find only a few bands from the past 5 or 6 years to be really interesting , and the ones that are interesting for us , are either very independent in the way they sound and think or leaning back and continuing this style of music in it's most classical form...
We are listening to new stuff of course but not necessarily be only from the Gothic genre , we just enjoy hard & good music at all .

8. Was it easy putting together your second album dream, after the first release, 'The Age Of Sophya', or were there any major problems?
SOPHYA - going on after 2 members had left the group and went back to Israel , was hard for a while , but time had passed and our need to create was strong enough and we had overcome this . DREAM was recorded at our own studio which at first was partly built and throughout the recording sessions was completed , so most of difficulties we had , were having to finance the building of the studio for completing the album. There were times we had to pause the recordings or the mixing for a while just to save up till we could complete the building of the studio .
As for writing the songs for DREAM , it came very easy for most of the tracks , what took longer is the production and the mixing of it all , we did not want to compromise on the result .
It was very important for us to go further with this album and offer more to our listeners .

9. Do you see the release of a third album a very real possibility?
SOPHYA - We're constantly creating and intend to continue as long as possible , for many more albums and years we hope .A third album is more than possible , we're writing material at the moment and we can only guess that some
of those tracks will end up on our next project .

10. Do you get to tour much in your native Israel?
SOPHYA - There's a plan for a tour this coming June and July. We didn't play there for a while so we're looking forward to it , the crowd over there is very warm and enthusiastic so it should be a nice adventure...

11. What is the music scene like in Israel, and what goes to make up the Alternative music scene there?
SOPHYA - The music scene is Israel in general is hard to describe. You can open the radio in the middle of the day and hear things you might be amazed to find on day time broadcast , but the local artist there , have a very hard time to only create , there's almost no finance for art so it's almost impossible to earn a living out of it unless you're very big.
The alternative and electronic music artists in Israel are very talented and innovative , creating things with a very interesting and different approach to it , but there are very little amount of people to follow these artists and usually this band/artists seize to exist after a while or change their ways to become more successful.

12. You've toured with some major acts (Clan of Xymox, Front 242 etc). Which gig has been your favorite one to date?
SOPHYA - We had much fun with all artists and at all events we played at 'till this day so it's hard to pick one...
we'll always remember our first European concert in the first 'GOTHAM ' festival back in 2001 , meeting a lot of bands we knew & loved for so long , the same goes for the gig we had in the EUROROCK' last year....
We always enjoy performing in events with the 'clan' of course , the people are also very supporting and it feels more like it's our "family" , with the right people and the right atmosphere to it .

13. Who would you really want to tour/play with in the future?
SOPHYA - mmmmm can we have a fantasy here ? if the reality was different maybe with JOY DIVISION/BAUHAUS ? Or maybe with THE CURE one day ? who knows....

14. Who are your favorite acts, and who influences you the most?
SOPHYA - except the ones we just mentioned we will have to pick just a few of our favorites and influences and mention bands and artists such as :toxedomoon , aphex twin , minimal compact , cranes , gong ,bach , skinny puppy , Edward ka - spel (lpd & tear garden etc.) , devil doll , Gary numan , C.O.X.......and many more....

15. What are your aspirations for the future, both for the band Sophya, and personally?
SOPHYA - To create art as much as possible , to record and to perform much more and personally we can wish our selves not to lose our muse , or let any external influence ruin it for us .

16. Anything else you?d like to say?
SOPHYA - thanx for taking your time and we hope you'll enjoy the DREAM.
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