It's said and believed by many that music is like a form of therapy – it can help and heal in a way few other things can. Sophie Pecora is one artist who believes such and someone who has established herself as an individual whose music spreads hope and positivity - something we all need and can benefit from. With her new EP 'To Save The World' out now, XS Noize caught up with her to chat about the collection and her time on 'America's Got Talent', and to discover the nicest thing anyone's said or written about her.
For those yet to discover you, who exactly is Sophie Pecora?
I'm an 18-year-old singer-songwriter/rapper & musician. I love making music that spreads hope into the world. I really enjoy connecting with people, especially my family and friends. I'm someone who likes to work hard and also relax at the end of a busy day. I'm a positive person, but it doesn't mean that I'm positive and happy all the time; but even when I don't feel good, I have this knowing deep inside that things will get better, and they always do.
What might you say sets you apart from the many other artists around now and who have come before?
My rapping is unique, and the way I mix it with singing and pop music. I write about subjects that aren't as common to write about. I like to write about human struggles everyone has. I'm a huge supporter of mental health because it's just as important as physical health, yet there is a stigma around it. I hope by writing songs about it, that people feel understood and know their feelings are valid.
How would you sum up the songs you write/the music you make in a few words?
I turn feelings into art.
Your first taste of success came when you appeared on America's Got Talent and received the Golden Buzzer from Brad Paisley. Looking back on that time, what were and are your highlights, and what advice would you give to anyone considering applying for the show or one similar?
One highlight was performing live on big stages in front of thousands of people. I really discovered how much I enjoy that. Brad Paisley recognizing my song-writing was another highlight, as well as the judge's feedback. They were all extremely supportive and encouraged me to keep going and that what I was doing is needed in the world. Lastly, Simon Cowell came on stage and talked to me for a little while. I was a bit star-struck, but it was so cool that he took the time to come talk to me like that, especially when I didn't see him do that without anyone else.
As far as advice for anyone thinking of applying for a show like this, practice a lot beforehand so when you're ready to perform, it feels like second nature so you can enjoy the moment. Usually, this gives the best performance because the practice helps you through any nerves and will give you more confidence. Try to relax right before the performance because all you can do is the best you can, and if you know you practised, then, whatever happens, is what's meant to be.
You've just released your new EP, 'To Save The World.' How would you say it showcases your evolution as an artist?
This is my 3rd EP. The more I write songs, the more I evolve. The lyricism and melodies keep getting better and better. My voice is showcased a little differently – especially in the title song and the song "I'm in a Rut."
Is there a message or particular meaning/theme behind the EP?
For this EP, I was thinking about all the songs I write and that I get so many messages every day from people telling me how much my songs help them. They say that they feel like I'm putting into words exactly how they are feeling, and it makes them feel so much better. For me, through my music, helping people not feel so alone seems like a great thing to pursue because I know how certain songs that other people write help me - it's such a comforting and magical feeling and I feel so validated. I feel like there are not enough songs like that being written, so I happily write, and I'll gladly be a voice for others. Like I said, I think of my music as turning feelings into art, and my hope is that when people listen to my songs, they feel understood and not so alone. This EP track-list is no exception.
Which song on the collection is your favourite and why?
My favourite song on the EP is "To Save the World", which is also the title track. I feel it's a really powerful song, and when creating the EP, I knew it should be the title as well. It's a bit different too with the production – a bit more acoustic and has some violin.
Are there plans for you to tour in support of the EP? Where would you most like to play?
I don't have a tour planned. I'd like to build up my fan base more to ensure a successful tour. Also, as an independent artist, most of my funds currently go toward music production, but I have been doing shows here and there, primarily in the Los Angeles area.
I'm looking forward to my first tour sooner than later! I will travel to wherever my fans are.
You've received praise and coverage from Billboard and PopSugar, among others. How much has such impacted you and your career? What would you say is the nicest thing anyone has ever said or written about you?
Having articles written about me helps introduce me more to a mainstream audience. It's so cool that people are interested enough in what I'm doing to write about it! For the second part, whenever I'm asked about the nicest thing anyone has ever said or written about me, I think of my YouTube comments first. There is an amazing community of people there showing so much appreciation for what I do as a singer-songwriter. For example, this comment is so nice! It's why I do what I do: "I love how authentic you are. Thanks for always being so true to your thoughts and feelings. It helps so many of us to know we're not alone."
You have a particularly strong online following with 650k subscribers on YouTube alone. With that in mind, to what extent do you feel/believe social media to be a necessary tool for artists such as yourself today when it comes to establishing and maintaining a career? Do you think there is such a thing as too much social media?
Good or bad, I believe social media is necessary for artists to establish and maintain a career because it's what will help build an audience of fans. By putting your music online, the world can access it. I absolutely think there is such a thing as too much social media. I don't think it's a very positive thing in general for people. It causes an unrealistic view of life and leaves many people feeling like they aren't doing as well as they can be or that they're not living the life they want, but they're making comparisons based on something that's not real. What's real is true human connection. Social media largely is entertainment, but it's highly addictive and often leaves people feeling really bad if they spend too much time on it. My song "Pretty People" on the EP is all about this.
You also use your platform to speak out about and support causes that are important to you and recently featured in a suicide awareness PSA, spear-headed by Carole King. How important to you is it that you can and do such things? Would you like to see more artists and celebrities do the same?
I feel honoured to have been a part of the PSA about suicide awareness and am grateful Carole King allowed her song Up on the Roof to be used for this purpose and how supportive she's been to the cause. Personally, I love being involved in these types of projects, especially when they support mental health. As far as whether I'd like to see more artists and celebrities do the same, that's for them to reflect on and choose. Of course, my hope is every person, artist/celebrity or not, participates in actions close to their heart that can impact the world positively. And that will look very differently for each person, and every little bit helps.
Finally, then, having achieved so much in a considerably short time, what are your future goals? What do you ultimately want to achieve as an artist, and many, many years from now, what do you want your artistic and personal legacies to be?
To me, it's not that short of a time because I've been working on music daily since I was eight or so! I'm planning to work just as hard these next ten years as I have the past ten years. Since I'm only 18 right now, I remain open to what is to come because there is still so much I haven't experienced yet. However, what I know for sure is that I'm a songwriter. I have 100 songs written and a goal of writing 100 more this year - and I'm halfway there.
Regarding my legacy, I want to know that I contributed positively to people's daily lives. When people listen to my music, I hope they're comforted by my songs and the things I'm writing about and feel understood and not so alone. I hope my songs will live on forever because I write about the natural human experience of life and feelings, so my songs will always be relatable. What an amazing thought that my songs could be helping people long after I'm gone! That sounds like a great legacy to me.