Interview with singer/songwriter/solo artist
By Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Sonya Kahn is a classically trained solo artist, with an unbelievable background, who plays a multitude of instruments and has produced and arranged her own music. Her musical style varies from classical, to pop, jazz, and rock. I really enjoyed learning more about Sonya Kahn, and the journey that she has taken to get where she is today.
Metal Babe Mayhem (MBM): First of all, you have an amazing background. You started playing piano when you were three years old, singing at five, and writing music by six. What was your childhood like?
Sonya Kahn: I remember my childhood as one big adventure. I was extremely busy between school, performances, practicing piano and singing, traveling, and learning about show business. I was born into a family of musicians, so it was natural for me start playing piano. I am very grateful to my Mother, who is a concert pianist, and a professor, because she guided me through many different stages in my professional life. Today I’m who I am because of her.
MBM: You were actually in your first band when you were six years old. When most six year olds were going into first grade, you were touring through Europe. What was it like spending six years on the road at such a young age, and how does it affect you today?
Sonya: Actually, I still remember my first audition. I don’t remember the song I sang but I remember every single detail, and the fact that I never had any butterflies in my stomach before my performance. When you are a kid you don’t analyze things. The whole process was really fun. During those six years I learned so much about being a professional entertainer. That experience kind of crafted my personality, and my identity as a musician and a performer.
MBM: What type of musical training have you had?
Sonya: I had the most extensive classical training that you can imagine! I went to a specialized music school called Tchaikovsky for Gifted Kids, and then to the conservatoire and post-graduation studies. I graduated all these schools in advance. My life was a studying marathon. That’s why I was able to graduate at such a young age and start teaching music.
MBM: What type of music did you teach, and are you still doing any teaching?
Sonya: I teach piano, (all genres) vocals, music theory, accompaniment, songwriting, and any other information that a person needs for their musical development. (music history, art history, etc…) I teach in between my gigs and recording sessions. I love teaching, and sharing my knowledge with people of all ages.
MBM: You have quite a variety of influences, from Aerosmith to Handel to Pink Floyd and Madonna. Is there a particular influence that has been stronger than another?
Sonya: Well, the strongest influence is the classical music since it’s the backbone for every other genre. However, I was influenced mostly by more innovative artists who weren’t afraid to change things around and offer something new and different. Not only image-wise, but actually do it with their music.
MBM: What are you currently working on?
Sonya: Currently I am working on a new EP. It will have more intimate and stripped down versions of my songs from the “New Beginning” album, and maybe I will add one or two new songs.
MBM: Tell us about your latest CD, “New Beginning.”
Sonya: “New Beginning” contains 13 tracks, so it’s a full album and my first effort as a producer and arranger. I constantly write, and have accumulated a big amount of songs. It was more difficult to decide which ones should go on this album. There is a good variety of upbeat, mid-tempo songs, and of course ballads… my favorite form. On this album there are a few songs that stand out for me personally: “Friend,” “Lonely Road,” and “Don’t Go Away.”
I had arranged many songs before, but not to this extent. I used a keyboard, piano, electric and acoustic guitars, real strings, synth samples, drums, and played around with different effects. I mixed the whole album twice because I didn’t like the sound the first time. So you can say this album is my baby. I put so much work into it…‘blood, sweat and tears’. I learned a lot and discovered many things about myself, which gave me more confidence and assurance as a musician. And next time when somebody says “oh, you can’t do that Sonya,” I say “watch me!”
MBM: You played an acoustic show at On The Rox 1/15/10. Do you have any upcoming shows scheduled?
Sonya: My next show is at the Viper Room on May 12th at 8:45 PM.
MBM: If you could choose any musician that you would like to go on tour with, who would you choose?
Sonya: Today I would love to tour with bands such as Kings of Leon or Lady Antebellum, or solo artists like Pink or Michael Bubble.
MBM: What can fans expect from a live show?
Sonya: During my live shows I give my all. First of all, I like to introduce and talk about each song I am going to perform. I feel more connected with my audience that way. On the stage I feel great, ‘like a fish in water,’ and people can sense that. They see and feel my honesty and my energy, and along with that, they experience art through my music.
MBM: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
Sonya: My music is multi-dimensional. It’s very melodic and dramatic. It has many layers of carefully crafted harmonies and structures. I put my heart in every note I use to create a song. My music is a pure emotional expression of my soul.
MBM: What are your songs about? What types of subjects do they focus on?
Sonya: I write about everything… love, and I mean different kinds of love, not only romantic. I focus on humanity. I write about struggles caused by different societies, about strong human characters, about family and friendship, etc…
MBM: Anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Sonya: I have this framed quote on my piano that I’d like to share with everybody: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
MBM: Thank you Sonya!
For more information on Sonya Kahn, please check out the sites below. Also, if you are in the Los Angeles area, make sure to catch her show at the Viper Room on May 12th.