Native to the Midwest, with South-Asian roots, Sonez (pronounced: /sōnz/) uses the raw power of story-telling, through her inspirational pop music and lyrics, to honor the spectrum of emotions we all feel from our kite-soaring highs to our gut-wrenching lows.Studying finance and pursuing a business rotational program post-undergrad, Sonez looked in full pursuit of climbing the corporate ladder. While learning financial strategies and the power of marketing, she spent her time in business arming herself with the tools that would ultimately
allow her to create a brand of her own. At the start of 2020, she began creating it full-time split between San Diego and New York.
In July of 2022, Sonez released her debut album titled “20something” which follows the story, both sonically and lyrically, of developing strength and self-love through the chaos of relationships in her early/mid-twenties.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?
My dad. Music is not his profession, but he was well known in our community growing up for entertaining family and friends with his covers of Indian songs. At one point my dad even created an original album of his own, which allowed me to witness just how much time, effort, love, and care goes into making music. Once I started to sing, my dad and I were constantly asked to perform duets at parties, weddings, and cultural events of old, classic Bollywood songs.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?
I would describe my style of music right now as pop with some eastern influences, however, my philosophy as an artist is simply about being myself. Since I am an ever-evolving, multidimensional person, I envision my music and style reflecting that evolution over time as well. There are so many different types of music that I want to explore and that’s why I specifically love pop music. It’s a genre that allows me to experiment with sounds, while still serving my listeners.
WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?
Quite frankly, I’m still discovering what drives me to create. On my latest project, my full-length album called “20something”, I was inspired by my own path in life – this desire to feel seen and understood for having the courage to live my truth. Now that I’ve gotten to a point in life where I feel comfortable being my full self, I find that I’ve been driven to create because of how it makes me feel - I feel good when I write a song that I think could help someone or when I perform and see someone light up.
As for success, when I’m enjoying my journey and putting art into the world that I’m proud of and moves people – that feels like success.
THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?
Interestingly, the person who’s helped me the most at this point has had no connection to the music industry. She’s a close friend, basically a sister, who I’ve been able to turn to when I’m overwhelmed or when I have something small that I want to celebrate. Support from family and loved ones is not always guaranteed when walking a unique path like this, but I have found that it helps more than any big industry connect ever could. With a solid foundation of support from loved ones, I find I have more confidence in trusting my gut when making decisions in my career and progressing professionally.
SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?
I am a firm believer in the phrase “if not this, something better.” As an early-stage artist, at times you can be made to feel like you must go above and beyond for every little opportunity that comes your way. For me, having a strong spiritual practice around trusting the process and the journey that’s meant for me has allowed me to calm any sense of overwhelm that I experience from time to time.
YOUR ARTIST CATALOG AND CURATED PLAYLISTS, AS WELL AS YOUR SPLIT TIME BETWEEN SAN DIEGO AND NEW YORK, INDICATE THAT YOU HAVE A WIDE RANGE OF INFLUENCES. AS AN ARTIST, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO EXPAND YOUR RANGE OF KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCES? ARE THERE ANY KEY COLLABORATORS OR MENTORS THAT HAVE CHANGED OR SHAPED THE WAY YOU APPROACH MUSIC?
Oh yes! I feel cliché being one of those people who says, “I listen to everything,” but I kind of do. Growing up on mainly Bollywood music, I spent much of my childhood listening to music where I didn’t understand the lyrics. It taught me just how boundless music is and how you can often feel what a song is about before you really listen to the words. I think that’s why I aspire to expand my skills as a producer in the near future – I want to be able to experiment with many different types of sounds and feelings.
As for collaborators/mentors, working with Alina Smith on my album taught me so much about the importance of understanding varying styles of music. The K-Pop sound she’s known for is very different than mine, but because of her broad knowledge of music as a producer, she did an amazing job at bringing to life not only my unique sound, but my essence as well. A great example of this is on the song “If You Love Me.” She brought out a lot of my Indian influence by playing up my Bollywood-style vocal chops between sections and sprinkled eastern instrumentation throughout the song as well. I feel like you really need to understand music to tastefully achieve what she did on that track.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?
If you’re a young artist whose parents still want you to go to college and get a degree like mine did, I highly recommend getting some sort of business degree or experience. The knowledge and soft skills I gained from working in finance all those years were totally transferrable to what I do now. At the end of the day, being an independent artist is kind of like running your own business. Especially in these early stages, it’s like a startup – you’re making a lot of up-front investments in yourself and building a foundation to one day scale into something bigger. You can definitely find a team of people to help, but it’s empowering to understand those stereotypically “non-artistic” aspects of the business yourself.
WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS, INSPIRES, OR MOTIVATES YOU?
The phrase that’s really been helping me lately is “Overall, does this feel good?” For so much of my life, I was conditioned to feel like I had to struggle or take on so much to accomplish what I desired. The more I’ve asked myself how something makes me feel, the faster and more easily I’ve been able to stay motivated and attract opportunities that truly benefit my art.
FOR FUN, IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND AND COULD ONLY HAVE (3) ITEMS WITH YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU BRING?
Number one: SPF - I’m a skincare girlie! My next would probably be a journal/pen to sketch and write in. Lastly, I would bring some sort of recording device to log melodies because who knows what being stranded on an island could inspire!
WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP NEXT?
My album! It just released on July 15th and I’m so excited to see where this project takes me. The album follows the story, both sonically and lyrically, of developing strength and self-love through the chaos of relationships in my early/mid-twenties. The track listing follows the journey of falling for someone, healing from the heartbreak, and then falling for myself. Each song is a multidimensional story that I hope will uplift my listeners when they hear it.
Now that the album's out, I’ll be creating all sorts of content to promote it for a while as I figure out what music I want to make next!
WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH SONGTRUST BEEN LIKE SO FAR?
My experience with Songtrust has been really great. Since being an indie artist often involves an overwhelming amount of research, my favorite part about working with Songtrust is having access to an associate who I’ve been able to speak with over the phone to ask my questions. The guidance and the resources they’ve provided me have helped a ton!
Follow Sonez on: