Musical Discoveries: Please tell us the details of your development as a musical artist leading up to your newest album. How did you develop your vocal style?
Sofia Talvik: The Tallboys are my backing band. I've released three albums, Blue Moon in 2005, Street of Dreams in 2007 and my latest is Jonestown in 2008. I really started out with playing a lot live. So the first album was about that live feeling, we recorded almost all the instruments at the same time and it took 40 hours to complete the album.
After that I started my own label and tried out new ways of recording and distributing my music. With Jonestown I hired Tobias Fröberg as producer, which was both a difficult and developing process for me who's used to do everything myself but I was very pleased with how it turned out.
What can you tell us about the Blue Moon days, including the recording of the album, the live performances, promotion and travels?
I hired a small basement studio in Stockholm and drew up a meticulous schedule for us to follow. It was really intense but great fun hanging out in the studio together eating pizza and playing music.
After the album was released I played at Sweden's biggest festival “Hultsfred” and opened for Maria McKee on her Swedish tour dates. I had a lot of ideas, but I felt like I didn't have the space and opportunity to implement them while being signed to a label, so about a year later me and my husband started Makaki Music on which I've released my two following albums.
Things moved on with Street Of Dreams and the Remix album. How would you say that you developed as an artist with the release of these albums?
The making of Street of Dreams was almost like an experiment, as the label was all new and stuff, but we had so much fun doing it and it turned out to be a really nice acoustic album.
Street of Dreamix was part of the promotion plan, coming from the fact that a lot of different artists approached me offering to do remixes of my songs, so we though why not make a whole album.
We gave them the vocal tracks and they were free to do whatever the wanted.
It's still being downloaded every day so I guess you could say it was a great success.
What do you think have been the major turning points in your career?
I'd probably say starting my own label, getting to the finals in famecast and thus getting the gig on Lollapalooza. Now I'm booked to play at SXSW 2009 and I think things will only keep getting better.
Were there any particular female vocalists that influenced you during your professional development?
I don't know if it's a good thing to be influenced by others, based on their vocal skills. I think you really have to find your own voice and the best thing to do that is to play live a lot.
I did listen to Cranberries when I went to high school and I did hear people comparing me to Dolores O'Riordan in the beginning but it's not something I've ever tried for.
I guess when you start singing and you sing along in the songs of your favorite bands sometimes you instinctly imitate. But fortunately I've found my own voice since then.
I listen to many great female singers like Tori Amos, Tracy Chapman, Neko Case and Aimee Mann but I'm also a big fan of The Killers, Mew and Kashmir so I really listen to very different kinds of music.
How did your music evolve across the three albums?
I think they have all been about different feelings. Blue Moon was about being "real," being the way I was when I was playing live then. It has a really poetic feeling about it. Street of Dreams is more like a happy, playful feeling. It's a pretty warm and cosy album. I think Jonestown is the one that really has the most complete sound to it, I wanted it to be really beautiful but still a bit dirty at the same time.
How is Jonestown being received internationally?
Taking in consideration that Jonestown really isn't released anywhere but in Sweden, the response has been huge!
I get airplay in the UK and the US, I've got booked to one of the biggest music festivals in the US and the reviews have all been wonderful.
Now I'm looking for partners outside of Sweden to be able to make the release the album deserves.
What can you tell us about the writing, recording and production of "Jonestown"?
I really wrote most of the album during a few months last summer. I just had a really good creative flow then.
And then I started talking to Tobias about producing it as I really love his second album. We recorded most of the album in Tobias flat here in Stockholm I wanted the sound to be retro and Tobias had all these awesome stuff from like the 40s that we recorded it with.
I like all the songs from the album but I would probably say that "Jonestown" is my favorite track. I think this album has a real good continuity to it, maybe because most of the material was written in a pretty short period of time and because we had a pretty clear picture of what the sound was going to be before we started recording.
Will you perform material from the new album and your back catalog in live venues to further support the launch of the album?
I did a US tour this summer with the final gig on Lollaplooza and I'm doing some gigs here in Sweden as well. Even though I mostly play the new songs now, I always like to mix it up a bit with some songs from the other two albums.
What can you tell us about your live performances?
Being a live performer is what got me started in my career so I think I do have some talent for it. I suppose I'm not much of an entertainer. When I've been to the US I feel solo artists like myself put on such a show. I'm not like that, I'm not a comedian.
I'm a singer if you know what I mean. Being on stage is not what drives me, and it sometimes feels like a burden but it can also be wonderful and very fulfilling especially when I'm able to perform with a full band and we just have fun together.
What are your personal views regarding the relative importance of "image" to a female recording artist?
Well, as I'm an Art Director by profession, maybe I give more thought to photos and design than other. But also I love beauty. I love pretty clothes and I want to look good on stage. If people are going to sit there and look at me for an hour I might as well try to look my best, right?! I also admire people with a great personal style, but I don't think you will do better as a musician just because you have a certain look.
Do you think that MySpace is becoming the all important location for musical artists nowadays?
We're constantly working with my official website. I'm updating it several times a week and I think it's really important to have a good content on the website. Personally I find it frustrating if I enter a website looking for something and it's not there or it's too hard to find. You have to keep it interesting and updated.
I think MySpace is a good complement but I also think there are lots of artists that are too lazy to bother with an official website and think My Space "will do."
Has Jonestown been released on iTunes?
Jonestown, as well as my other albums, is available on iTunes, which is great because it means people all over the world can find it, even if it's not in their local record store. I think CDs will naturally go out of style, although not fast enough. I'm a sucker for great artwork, but few artists bother to work with their booklets nowadays as most people download anyway.
I always try to design my covers and booklets to make them a treat for those who actually buy the CD, but to be honest, it really does cost more than it's worth I think. Releasing digital would be so much easier and faster.
What does the future hold for Sofia Talvik?
I'm just so busy with Jonestown, still. I'm going back to the US in March for SXSW and as usual I'm releasing a free Christmas single in December, so check in on my website then. I'm also looking into the Asian market, but I try to take one step at the time.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
Keep listening to great music and great musicians will have a chance!