Sofi Maeda: “If you don’t try you will never know”

Do everything you’re scared of, do everything you’re ashamed of — in my opinion, that’s the only way to overcome your fears, hesitations and shyness. If you’re afraid of performing on stage, ask yourself: ‘’Do I really want it?’’ Think about it, and if your heart says ‘’yes’’, just do it. The first few times may be […]

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Do everything you’re scared of, do everything you’re ashamed of — in my opinion, that’s the only way to overcome your fears, hesitations and shyness. If you’re afraid of performing on stage, ask yourself: ‘’Do I really want it?’’ Think about it, and if your heart says ‘’yes’’, just do it. The first few times may be very nerve wracking but with every day, it will get better and better and then you’ll realize that it’s something you can’t live without.

As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sofi Maeda.

Sofi Maeda was born in Takamatsu, Japan. The alternative pop-punk starlet has been doing music seriously since 2018. She has followed up with a series of successful singles “Feeling Alive”, “Ashita”, “Macfduck” in 2019–2020 for her upcoming album. Sofi has won singing as well as song contests, and has performed on the Red Square in Moscow, at the festival in Gorky Park, as well as concerts in Depo, Live Stars, San Diego, Glastonbury and many more. Now Sofi and her band are preparing the live album presentation.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born in town called Takamatsu in Japan. My parents met there. My dad is Japanese and my mum is Russian, so I speak both languages since birth. We had been living for 4 years in Tokyo until me and my mum moved to Moscow. Later, my parents got divorced but now despite having different families they are good friends though. Here, In Moscow I went to a kinda-garden, graduated high school and I still live in this city. I met lots of great people though these years, and I have wonderful friends. Of course, I communicate with my dad and my Japanese family, usually I try to visit them twice a year regularly.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path? 

 I got interested in music when I turned 13. Before, I couldn’t even think that I would ever start writing my own songs or that I will be a lead singer in a band who’s recording an album in a studio. I was a kid who would never take part in any school musical performances, I was too shy and constrained. In the beginning, I was taking guitar lessons and just a year later I met my fist vocal coach who inspired me to become a singer. Also, one of my favorite bands — Marianas Trench had a huge influence on me. After seeing them live for the first time I decided to try myself in creating my own songs. Now I’m not proud of my first songs but that was the beginning of this new amazing musical stage of my life. A few years later, I went to a ‘rock school’ in Moscow to get an experience of playing and singing in a band and there I found a person who became my mentor and an arranger. We started recording some new songs for the upcoming album together and later I gathered a band with professional musicians.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

There was an awkward story that happened to me in 2019 when we were shooting music video for my song Feeling Alive. On that day we all had to get up very early and get to the location on time. In the morning, I ordered a taxi because I had to bring lots of heavy bags with me, I entered an address and fell asleep in the car. When I arrived, I looked around and I was really confused — there were old village houses everywhere, it was the countryside. I checked the address again and it was correct too «Elektrozavodskaya street». I sent my current location and pictures of the spot to my band mates and it turned out that I was at the completely different town which has the same street and building number! I had to go back to Moscow in a big hurry, nevertheless, I was only an hour and a half late. The guys still remember this funny story.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
 Once, I had to come to the radio station and it was a day when everything just went wrong. First, I used the subway and I missed my station so I got lost there. After that, I decided to use a taxi so I could get to the right place. The taxi took me to the wrong address, too. Then I decided to use Google Maps to walk to the place where the radio station was but it didn’t show me the correct address so I didn’t know how to get there. Thankfully, there was a guy who saw me crying so he asked if I needed help and just because he lived nearby, he was able to help me to get to the radio station. From this story, I learned the lesson that I have to leave my house about 3 hours before important events.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? 
 Right now, I’m finishing working on the upcoming album, all songs are recorded already, only sound design and mastering are left. Also, I’m working on new songs right now. We wrote a song in a reggae style; I’m really excited to sing it in front of everyone! Recently, we had a band photoshoot for posters and also, we are preparing the live album presentation! Me and my crew are choosing the appropriate club where everything will take place.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture? 
Firstly, it’s really exciting to see people who are doing something new rather than replicating things that exist already. It’s really cool to get inspired by someone or something but really important to do something that is yours. Even if you’re an artist who does covers of famous songs — you can bring in an unconventional performance of an extraordinary arrangement. Also, we as people are all different. We live in different countries; speak different languages and we have different values and cultures but we all have similar emotions and feelings. Art is something that can bring us together, especially music. So, I think it’s really necessary to show the versatility of our world in the entertainment industry. There are many wild collaborations of artists with different cultures that show us diversity and unite us at the same time. Art is powerful.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. If you don’t try you will never know’’ — A few years ago I was too shy. Because of that, I had lost lots of great opportunities on stage and also in everyday experiences too. I don’t regret anything but if I wasn’t afraid of trying new things then, I could be much a more experienced artist and person now.
  2. Keep faith that tomorrow can be different’’- sometimes, we all have to go through the hard times and face difficulties. It’s very important to trust yourself and not to lose faith in the possibility that everything will get better.
  3. Do everything you’re scared of, do everything you’re ashamed of’’ — in my opinion, that’s the only way to overcome your fears, hesitations and shyness. If you’re afraid of performing on stage, ask yourself: ‘’Do I really want it?’’ Think about it, and if your heart says ‘’yes’’, just do it. The first few times may be very nerve wracking but with every day, it will get better and better and then you’ll realize that it’s something you can’t live without.
  4. “The more you give, the more you get’’ — I wish someone told me these words when I started singing live with my band. It’s very important to give your energy to people when you’re on stage because you share their emotions. If you give all of yourself, being sincere, you get a strong response and reaction.
  5. Don’t hold a grudge against people who have offended you somehow’’ — This is a really important advice in show business. If you work in that sphere, you’ll definitely face haters or unconstructive critics who will try to bring you down, so it’s essential to learn how to not take the negative things you hear to heart.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? 
 1)Always keep creating new things. Even if you released an album just a year ago, don’t forget about working on new material. If you get hung up on the things you’re used to, the probability of burning out is much higher. 2) Search for new musical discoveries, check the latest news, always inspire yourself in different ways — go to the concert, walk in the woods or in the city, communicate with other artists and with your listeners, travel. 3) Don’t forget to take a rest if you need it.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your ideas can trigger. 🙂

Oftentimes, practiced musicians can be closed off when around younger musicians and I would love to create a more collaborative space for musicians, especially younger musicians. I feel this is important because when artists are starting out, having a community with support, experience and connection can be so influential. Maybe I could create a community for the beginner artists who are finding themselves in music.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

First of all, my parents who never doubted me — they always support me on my way, they give me the best and most helpful advice. My dad always told me: If you’re down today, think about tomorrow before falling asleep. Tomorrow everything’s going to be much better. And those words still help me a lot. And of course, my vocal coach. I’m so thankful to her that she helped me to open up my voice, she taught me to be not afraid of mistakes and to be myself on stage.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s hard to pick out only one quote so I’ll give you a few songs that helped me a lot through the last years. (A list of songs) When different people hear the lyrics of the same song, they can understand it differently because we all have various life experiences, goals, worries, values and fears. When we come together, united by the love for the same song or artist, we can connect over having the same worries and interests.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

As It Is is one of my favourite bands and in 2019 I was lucky to see them live. After the show I met Ronnie from the band who gave me such an important advice that still helps me during hard times. Ronnie and Patty wrote very kind and valuable essential words in my notebook that I still keep. It inspires me. I would be really happy to meet Ronnie and Patty from As It Is!

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