Band names can be confusing sometimes. It is known to those who have read my blog before with attention, that one of my big inspirations artistically is Robin Proper-Sheppard of Sophia and formerly of the God Machine. However, in Chile there is also another band called Sophia, and in Japan there is a J-Pop (what’s in a name?) band called Sophia too. Confusing maybe, although Robin’s band is the only one that is known in a wide variety of countries, with the other 2 Sophia’s mainly known locally. And then there is another band where only one digit sets them apart from the other 3 mentioned bands: Sophya, written with a -y-. The latter is actually a quite interesting band, so let’s shine a light on this band.
Sophya is a band often categorised as darkwave, which I guess is quite an appropriate term. Due to some following within the gothic subculture and performances on some festivals attracting a crowd from this subculture, the band is sometimes tagged as gothic, which in my opinion however is not so much a right tag (and, given the quality or lack thereof of modern goth acts, Sophya should in my opinion not be associated with the modern gothic acts). The band is operating mainly from the Netherlands, although the band is actually from Israel. The Middle East is rarely associated with the darkwave style and indeed in Israel the genre is very underground and with limited impact. The band started off in 1996 with core members Idan Karutchi and Sonja Rozenblum, together with bass player Shai Ledder. Later on Hagai Shlezinger (drums) & Eliad Wagner (piano, keyboards, synths) would join, although the core of the band and creative part of Sophya are mainly Idan Karutchi and vocalist Sonja Rozenblum, blessed with one of the most angelic ethereal voices I have heard. The line-up of the band would change a few times but the core has always been Idan and Sonja.
The Israelis were working on a demo when in 1999 Idan met Ronny Moorings, of the famous (in the goth and darkwave scene very famous and succesful) Dutch band Clan of Xymox. Ronny was deeply impressed with the recordings he heard of Sophya, comparing them to very succesful and long established acts like Faith and the Muse, or even Cocteau Twins. He immediately signed Sophya to his own label, Xymox Control. It was then that Sophya’s operations moved to the Netherlands, despite the fact that the band members are from Israel and –to my knowledge– still live in Israel. The debut album "The Age of Sophya" followed in 2000 and the band was invited to play some big gothic and new-wave festivals in the Netherlands, including the very first Terra Gotha festival in Vlissingen (by now an established festival). The second album "Dream" followed in 2003 and "Third Wish" followed in 2006 through the label ‘Mutantjasz Records’. The band are, with some rotating line-up in addition of Sonja and Idan, working on new material as yet.
So why this article on my blog? Because I think it is injustice that this band until now is mainly associated with the gothic and darkwave scene, getting not much attention outside of these scenes despite very positive feedback on all releases. This article on my blog which, despite my own backgrounds in the scene, has little to do with these styles of music in itself, hopefully triggers some more attention to the band from outside the goth/darkwave scene. It would only be well-deserved because it only takes a brief listen to Sophya to notice that the band’s music can be enjoyed by many people who have nothing to do with the goth or darkwave world. This is not your typical darkwave or goth music, this is a dreamy sound that puts you into a trance and makes you drift away to some dreamworld. Lyrically the band is far ahead of the goth scene too, but even when one would not pay strong attention to the very well-written lyrics, the guitar and bass play make you feel like drifting away into a beautiful daydream, with Sonja’s ethereal vocals providing the perfect guide through this beautiful dream world.
But of course, the best is to see/listen for yourself! 🙂 This is the video for the song "More", a song which sounds dreamy but doesn’t fail to provide some very thoughtful lyrics.
"They welcome you to what they call a Brave New World, but after all you’re never free, you’re never true ;
you’ll have to kill the child in you.
You want it all, but what do you need?
You only dream if you’re asleep.
You’re scared to be the one who makes the difference."
The video can be found here:
That the band is standing strong live as well, can be witnessed here, with the band performing in their homeland Israel: ; this track is called "God Made the Man".
Spread the word on this talented band, and hopefully they soon get the well-deserved credit and opportunity to perform across the continent. A new release should follow in the near future. The band’s online home can be found at www.sophya.net .