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Interview with songwriter Sophie Hintze

Interview by Dlisah Lapidus

What do you enjoy about your work as a songwriter?

I sort of fell in love with the lifestyle of being a songwriter, because I get to do what I love. I can write a song and leave it, and then I just go on to do the next one, as opposed to being attached to any specific thing or image. I feel like music is seemingly such a public job. But I think people don't realize the behind the scenes. There's a lot of the inner framework going on. Now, my job from day to day is writing and co-writing in sessions with people. These days, I will zoom with

As someone working in the private sector of the music industry, how do you perceive the public?

I think especially now, everyone only sees the public side of something, and there's a lot of judgment about what you're bringing to the table yourself, especially with social media in general. You see a post of people's successes, and it can seem like it happened overnight, and you wonder, how do they look like that? How did they get that? But you're not seeing the hours or years of private work. Which I think is damaging for people. Now, young people are growing up thinking that everything that is public is the way it seems, when in reality everyone has these very real and contradicting private lives.

What role does success play in the behind the scenes of something so public?

I have found that in entertainment, a lot of people see success as a sport, as if there is a ticking clock attached to these careers. The older you get, it feels like you're becoming less and less relevant. That is definitely something I have had to unlearn, because music is so accessible. Everyone judges success, or how well you're doing, based on radio play, or if you get a Grammy or Billboard Music Award, but, my artist friends and I have done so much work to mentally reverse that perception, to be able to say, “ I'm successful, when I'm successful,” and not base that on the public's interpretation of success. This is hard, because of course you care about what everyone thinks of you, which is the weird thing about having a job that's so out there. But you just have to trust your own shit.

Where do you find inspiration?

I would normally say that living life is inspiring, but right now, it's funny how different things are. I’ve found myself just staring at at other artists over zoom being like, what the fuck do we say. But I really spend a lot of time in silence, and I try to really listen to not only life around me, but also my own thoughts and how things progress. I find that like a lot of my inspiration comes from stillness, which is something that's been really cool about this time. On one hand, of course, living life and finding love, or flings, or listening to friends talk about those same things, just don’t exist right now. But when it comes down to it, most of the creative process is just paying attention to things around you, and being able to distinguish the cool things in it.

To what extent is collaboration significant to your artistic process?

I love writing with other artists, because I get to hear other people's experiences, and then package it in my own way. What I do really well is boiling it down and then building some arc and structure to it. If someone brings an idea to the table, even if it's their story, I can pose it in a different way. I guess there is really a bit of me within everything that I’ve written, whether or not it's exactly my story. Compassion is the biggest part of the writing process, because even if I don't relate to it exactly, I can imagine what it would be like to go through someone else’s experiences.

How does it feel to release music, a representation of your private life and feelings, into the public?

I've written around 500 songs. And it's so funny that what ends up coming out, is usually not the one you’d expect to. Where I'm at right now in my career, I have two or three songs coming out a year, and those songs aren't always my favorites, most often, they haven't been. Then when something comes out, and I'm promoting it I'm like, “ shit, this is a good song, I guess, but look at these songs in my catalogue that I'm so much more proud of,” maybe because I relate to them more, or I just think they're better songs. I'm trying to actively undo that protective layer I put over myself. Because I think people always relate to and take something from songs. Even if I hate a song, someone might love it. I am proud of the stuff that's come out because, I wrote it, at whatever point in my career, it was where I was at. I guess I have this interpretation of people listening to something that I've written and thinking, oh, wow, this is the writer that she is, whereas I feel like I have so much more. That's the complicated thing as someone behind the scenes, because this one work doesn't represent all of it. But, how do I show you all of it? Or even if I could, maybe I don't want to do that. It's definitely weird to be vulnerable like that.

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