Smitty: Well, it is certainly my wonderful pleasure to welcome a newcomer to JazzMonthly.com. She brings a new level of sophistication, admiration, with her ultra-sonic range of voice. Case in point is her sparkling new self-titled debut release. Please give a warm welcome for the lovely and gorgeous and so talented Ms. Sophie Milman. Sophie, how are you?
Sophie Milman (SM): I’m great, great. Thank you so much for the lovely intro.
Smitty: You are so welcome.
SM: I’m blushing (laughing.)
Smitty: Oh, you’re blushing. (Laughing.) Well, it’s well deserved.
SM: Thank you.
Smitty: Yes, and you should be so proud of this CD. You know why? I love the whole layout, and before listening to one note, you know right away that you have something special in your hand.
SM: Good. I’m glad. I’m glad, really glad people are getting that vibe because that’s how we intended it.
Smitty: Yes, and you really mixed it up very well. It’s very diverse. The first song is such a great opening. Pronounce that for me, please.
SM: “Agua de Beber.”
Smitty: You do that so well. (Both laughing.)
SM: Yeah, that was a really fun one. It was the first time I’d ever sung Latin and I really enjoyed doing that and opening the record with it was special to me.
Smitty: Yes indeed. And you captured the French language so well. Now, I understand you speak, what, four different languages?
SM: Yeah, I speak Russian, Hebrew and English fluently and French is a work in progress. My French is a bit rusty at this point, but it kinda comes and goes, my French, it’s funny, depending on my mood and various other things, so Russian, Hebrew and English obviously I’m fluent and the French, if I’m in a good mood I can speak it.
Smitty: Well, I think you’ve captured it quite well in your music here with “La Vie en Rose.”
SM: Oh thank you!
Smitty: That was quite a French rendition of the song and you had me convinced that you’re fluent in French and it’s great.
SM: Well, I have a greater feel for languages and accents, and I’m a huge fan of everything French or the French culture and language and all that, the literature and everything, so I spent quite a lot of time listening to French songs of that Chanson era, that when it came time to record the album, La Vie En Rose was an obvious song to record.
Smitty: Wow. Well, what a great choice. When did you decide that this was something professionally that you wanted to do? Because, you know, trusting your range of voice and trusting yourself to come out in front of people and deliver great songs the way you do, it’s just not something that happens overnight.
SM: For sure. I mean, a professional career in music happened quite accidentally for me. I was already in the first year at the university when I got my first gig, so I started going to these jam sessions and I got a gig here. I always loved singing, but for me, music and performing were ways to relax, to differentiate myself from others- a very serious hobby one may call it. It was nothing that I ever wanted to do professionally because I, frankly, I had no idea that I was good enough. So I didn’t grow up around these musicians, I had no idea what that involved., and also it took a lot of convincing and a lot of time for me to actually believe in myself, and I would say that, only toward the end of the process of recording the album, one night when we were sitting and listening to some tracks, it actually clicked with me, I connected with my own music and I realized that this is something that I was capable of doing. And, about a year after that I went on tour, an all-Canadian jazz festival tour, and it was amazing and so were the audience responses, so then I was really convinced, you know, I was just like “I can do this for a living, I love this, and this is one of the most awesome things that somebody could do with their life,” so it took a little while, but I’m there.
Smitty: Yeah, yes you are. Talk about what the experience is like going from the local club to a major festival or a larger audience. What’s that like?
SM: Going from club gigs to theatre shows was an amazing experience. Though I didn’t have a lot of club gigs and I didn’t have a lot of shows before I went on tour, so I had very little performance experience. My performance experience was very inconsistent, meaning that I would have maybe one show a month or one show a tour, if at all, and to go from that to three weeks on the road nonstop and whatever day we had off we were flying from one gig to the next. It was very taxing and it was difficult, but the rewards were so enormous. I mean, to get to play to the size of audiences that we did and see such great responses, and there was not even one low point on the tour.
Smitty: Wow. But you handled it well.