Sonal Jogia is an r&b-soul singer/songwriter from Calgary, Canada.
Born in England, raised in Canada and now relocated in Spain, Jogia’s debut EP “Lovely Day” was nominated for Soul Recording of the Year at the Breakout West Awards.
The singer/songwriter revealed her latest single “Alive” on September 10th.
“This song is heartfelt and emotional, and I hope it transmits the feeling of love to whoever listens to it,” says Jogia.
Produced, mixed and mastered by Spencer Cheyne, “Alive” is off her upcoming EP, to be released at the end of the year.
Introduce yourself. What’s your story?
I grew up in Calgary, Canada, though I was born in England. I am of Indian decent and have spent a total of 3 years of my life in India. I currently reside in Spain, and where I’ll be next I don’t know! I don’t really consider myself from any one place…I’m just a part of this world. Music has always been a part of my life but I started pursuing it much later than most do…it’s never too late…the timing is perfect! What else can I tell you? Well, I’ll elaborate during the interview :)
Tell us a little bit about your childhood. What were the things you were passionate about?
I was a very active and anxious child. I had so much energy I didn’t know what to do with it! So things such as dance, gymnastics and anything active was really good for me. I always wanted to be the center of attention. The thing I was most passionate about though, was music…music in any form. Singing, performing for friends and family, and listening to it. I’ve always had a very big imagination (especially being a Pisces), and so I would always picture that I was on a real stage with an audience in front of me. I remember when I was about 9 or 10 years old I decided I wanted to be an opera singer. I would drive everybody crazy running around and singing at the top of my lungs. I was quite a character, haha!
When did you start feeling connected to music?
Honestly, I can’t remember a time that I didn’t feel connected to music. Music always made me feel a way like nothing else in the world could. It embraced me and gave me the love that I needed as a child, and it did it without judgement or expectations. I existed in a world where I never quite “fit” and it was never ok for me to be who I was. Everyone was constantly trying to make me conform to what societal norms were…and that just wasn’t me. But music…music allowed me to truly be myself. It allowed me to feel good about myself and accept myself.
Growing up, what were your favorite records to listen to?
Well when I was growing up it was literally records we would listen to, haha. When I was really young I loved listening to Madonna, Michael & Janet Jackson, Exposé, Duran Duran and then later on Terrence Trent D’arby, Black Box, Sweet Sensation, INXS, Mariah Carey and lots more. I even had a phase where I was obsessed with Guns ’n’ Roses, Skid Row and Bon Jovi. My brother-in-law was a DJ and I had access to some killer mixtapes which I would listen to on my walkman, lol. In the 90s I really got into RnB & Hip Hop, which I’m still stuck on to this day. Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Total, Brian McKnight, Toni Braxton, Monica, SWV, Boyz II Men, and so many more! That style of music is my biggest influence when it comes to my writing style.
What gave you the confidence to be an artist?
Wow, I’m warning you that there’s no way to keep this answer short, haha. So you can imagine that not being an “acceptable” human was a real confidence killer…to constantly have it drilled into you that it’s not ok to be who you are…that there’s something wrong with you. So by the time I turned 13, I reverted into myself when it came music. After that point for years to come, if you didn’t know I sang before, you most likely wouldn’t. It became a well-kept secret. After the age of 17 or 18 I gave it a shot a couple of times, taking the stage when an opportunity arose once in a blue moon…but by that time the fear and panic of stage-fright had taken over. It doesn’t mean that music wasn’t a part of my life, because for me it was what still continued to be my first love. I would listen to and sing to all of my favourites every single day. It gave me my sanity…it gave me peace.
In my 20’s I started singing back-up vocals for my friend’s band. And to shorten an even longer story, when I was 30 (give or take) I decided to give it a shot and step out into the front to see if it was possible to reawaken a dream that I had left behind as a child. The fear was paralyzing. It took everything in me just to get through the day of a performance. I could barely speak to anyone or even think straight. The anticipation of what was to come was too much to handle. I even stopped for 6 months or so after I started. But then I ended up coming across a quote that would change everything for me…”Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Wow…that really hit me. And since that moment, that was my goal. And it still is…to get to “the other side of fear.” I got started again and performed as much as I could, and I accepted the fear, and I did it through that fear. I ended up recording an EP and it even got nominated for Best Urban Recording of the Year at the Breakout West Awards in Canada…I couldn’t believe it! I thought, I’m on to something here!
So now, to finally get to your question (haha), I am still working on that confidence…it seems to be a constant process. The fear doesn’t go away…but it gets better. To tell you the truth, I don’t know if it’s about conquering that fear, getting to the other side of it, or to just accept and embrace it…and then to do it anyways. At the height of the emotion during the performance and the energy shared with the crowd…it is just such a special place to be and unique connection to experience. I just focus on working on accepting myself and what is, and allow the rest to just flow.
You recently released your new single "Alive". What's the story behind this song?
Honestly, it’s a song that is an expression of love and when you’re truly feeling your best because of it. A song is a perfect medium to be able to express what you’re feeling and to be vulnerable in ways that can often be difficult. That’s the beauty of writing poetry or songs…the ability to express yourself.
When did you start working on this single?
It was a few years ago now, while I was teaching myself to play guitar. I started to play the chord progression and at the same time the lyrics and melody just came out of me so effortlessly. At the time I never would have known that it would be a single…it wasn’t written with that intention. It was more just being in a moment of reflection and it came out from somewhere within me…from the heart. It felt like a really special song right from the very beginning.
What can you tell us about your upcoming EP? Who are you working with? What's the inspiration behind this EP?
I’ve been working with my friend and producer Spencer Cheyne, who has proven to be the perfect person for this project…not that I ever had any doubt. He is producing, mixing and mastering this EP. It was a great experience to work with him as he puts a lot of love, attention and his expertise into everything he does. I love working with people who are passionate about what they do and who put their whole heart into their projects.
As for the EP itself, it’s interesting the way it came together. I had not been writing with an EP in mind, but over a couple of years I had just been writing songs in general whenever I felt inspired…for the sake of creating and being in the music. When I decided that I was ready for this project, I showed Spencer the small collection of songs that I had and…he loved them all! But in the end you still have to choose. I also had a couple of co-writing sessions when I went back to Calgary to begin the recording process where 2 new songs were born. What started as 5 songs turned into 6, and honestly, if I had the budget I would make it a full length album with the few other songs I’d love to record! But as an independent artist, sometimes it’s necessary to make decisions based on finances, and that’s ok. I do what I can as I am able, and I allow the rest to flow.
You came back to your hometown in Canada to record this new EP. Do you have a favorite memory from the songwriting/recording process?
Well Spencer put together the most amazing team of musicians (3 of who I know and 1 who I had the pleasure of getting to know), including himself on the drums (yes, he is also the best musician)! It was such a cool experience to have the whole band playing live off of the floor in the studio!! The whole process seemed so easy, fun and effortless. There was no stress, no complications…just an amazing experience of artistic minds and souls vibing off of each other. Can’t beat that energy and that feel…the results speak for themselves! I’m very proud of what we have created together.
The songwriting experience that stands out by far is with Juno Award nominated singer/songwriter/musician Joanna Borromeo. I had met Joanna on one of my visits to Calgary a few years earlier, and on this particular trip Spencer suggested that we write together…which turned out to be the best suggestion EVER! I went to her place and we shared so much meaningful conversation and connected on a real heart level. An hour and a half later when we started with the song it all poured out into the song! At the same time as creating a special song we also created a beautiful friendship, so you can understand why this particular experience is one that stands out for me. You should check her out…she is herself a special artist.
How did your sound and artistry evolve since your first EP?
I would say my writing style is very similar still, since my influence of 90’s RnB is still relevant, haha. I have definitely found the right range for my voice on this EP compared to the first. I was lucky enough to train with vocal coach Tamara Beatty from The Voice which has helped my tone and sound immensely. So lucky to have her in Calgary! Also playing guitar and being able to use that as a writing tool was definitely helpful. I had the freedom to find the progressions that play in my head without having to try to express it to someone else to find for me…that can be difficult, especially if we can’t find it! I was able to create more of the sound I was hearing. Also, I love the more live feel this EP has with having recorded the whole band live. That has really breathed life into these songs!
You now live in Spain. How does this country shape you as a human being and as an artist?
I have to say that it’s the beautiful people of this country. They are just so open, loving and full of affection. Their hearts are so open and they are just so expressive. I grew up in a family who has difficulty expressing emotions and love. The love is there, but it’s expressed more subtly or indirectly…like in many Indian families! Being in Spain, I have slowly learned to allow myself to receive affection and love, and in turn give more to others as well as to myself. It was very uncomfortable in moments because when you haven’t grown up like that you don’t really know how to respond to it. It can make you feel extremely vulnerable. But vulnerability is such an important aspect of being an artist. It plays such a significant role in creativity and in communicating, whether that be with an audience, an interview, etc. These past years in Spain and the connections I’ve formed has definitely helped me to become more loving and expressive, and has allowed me to become less afraid of being vulnerable. It makes it more of a possibility for me to be able to live my truth.
What does it mean for you to be an artist?
Living a creative life goes beyond just writing and recording songs and singing them. It’s about how the creations and sharing them affects you yourself, and how it affects humanity on a collective level, by bringing healing, raising our vibrational frequency and in turn raising consciousness. I truly feel it is a means to create unity in a time where there is so much division. That is the beauty of being a creator. And really, we are all creators…we just need to rediscover our gifts which are often lost as we get older. As children, we are all very aware of this, but we lose it along the way. I feel that being an artist is a gift to be shared, and that is why I’ve been so focused on becoming who I need to be in order to do just that.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
That no matter how you’re feeling, no matter how low or bad things can get, we can always let beauty in. Whether that be a walk in nature, enjoying a laugh with a friend, or just sitting with a warm cup of tea by the fire…we can always live in moments of beauty no matter how difficult life can become. It’s so easy to get lost in pain and grief and to forget that we don’t have to remain in it every moment of every day. That advice has helped me cope better through some difficult times, and even to move past them faster and more gracefully. There is always space for beauty in life…we can always create space for it.
What are the things you are the most proud of?
Making peace with my past and understanding how important of a role it played in who I am and where I am today. Learning to accept myself and love myself despite not meeting societal norms and what others expect from me. Living my truth and following my path even though it may be seen as unconventional to many. Facing my greatest fears to be able to get to a place where I can share my gifts openly and freely. These are all still a work in progress…I am still a work in progress. I suppose I always will be, which is a beautiful thing!
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
If we lived for others instead of having a “every man for himself” or “last man standing” attitude. I think we all have ways we can contribute to society. Most people believe that contributing to society means we have to go out and work a 9-5 job. But I really believe that we all have something to contribute to society that can improve the lives of others. It would help us to be a more loving and supportive society and that then ripples outwards. And we need to focus on loving and supporting ourselves more as that then helps us to love and support others.
I read something not long ago that went something like this: If you didn’t get paid for the job that you’re doing…would you still want to do it? I think that’s an important question we can all ask ourselves.
What's your purpose?
Discovering my true authentic self and becoming that. Recognising and peeling away all the layers of subconscious programming and learning to heal from repeated toxic patterns. Acceptance of myself. Not only acceptance, but fully embracing myself and forgiving myself and continuing to grow. With that I no longer need to find acceptance outside of me. Because in the end I believe everything we feel we are lacking from the outside world, can ultimately be found within ourselves…we just have to find it and unlock our potential. That’s inevitably what we’re here to do. Heal…release…transform…expand…take up space in the world with whatever gifts we have to offer the world. Music is the ultimate form of connection…the thing that brings people together. And I’ve found my purpose through music to connect with others and together raise our energetic vibration, and to connect people with each other through music. Everything I have stated before that is my way of arriving to the place I need to be in…to become unapologetically my true authentic self…in order to bring this goal to life…in order to live it.
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