I’m a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t come across Sonali before, but I’ll shake it off for you folks. Growing up, did anyone else hit the pop scene really hard in their early teens? This singer-songwriter has that classic pop vibe that reminds me a bit of that era, but with new soul. Now, after taking a hiatus to focus on her health, Sonali is exploring new sounds, going on tour, and making some smashing good songs! Read the interview below!
Your latest single, “Close Enough,” has really heartfelt lyrics. What was going through your head when you wrote this piece?
Thank you! I pay a lot of attention to lyrics, they’re so important to me, and this song has some of my favorite lines that I’ve written! “Close Enough” is kind of a song about everyone’s dreaded “what are we” question while dating someone. For me specifically I wrote it about trying to stay friends with an ex, but it’s really just a song about trying to figure out where exactly it is you stand with another person. The main idea of the song is the chorus, “Are we friends who are too close, or lovers who aren’t close enough?”
You started as a pop and folk artist, but after your hiatus you’ve returned with a passion for synth and electronic sounds. What prompted the change?
Even as I was making more folky music, my love for this kind of pop electronic sound was growing. I’ve always tried to expose myself to all kinds of genres. I went to NYU with a bunch of kids who were also pretty heavily into electronic music, so I was constantly exposed to it. By the time it came time around to work on my next batch of material, I strongly felt like I wanted to try something different, and I love what we ended up with!
After being diagnosed with and recovering from Chronic Lyme Disease, you’re back with new singles, new sound, and a new perspective. What are the next steps for you?
Lots of live shows! Because of my Lyme disease, I had to give up live performances for so long because I didn’t have the physical strength to get through a gig. I missed that part so much. Now that I’m progressing through my treatment I’m really enjoying being back on stage. and especially with a new sound! I’m used to playing solo acoustic, but playing pop stuff with a backing band is a whole new game, and I’m loving it.
As an alum of the Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music at Tisch (a big deal music school), what was it like taking academic classes with famous musicians?
Pretty wild at first, but after the first class or two you realize that they’re normal human beings, just like you. My final semester I got to take a funk class with Questlove, that was insane. He’s a very humble and knowledgable guy. The final class of my undergraduate career was his, and the guest speaker he brought in that day was D’Angelo, no big deal. Zero complaints over here!
I heard that your next EP is in progress. When can we expect it to release?
No dates yet! I’m still sitting on a bunch of unreleased music that I can’t wait to get out there, and of course I’m always writing and itching to produce more. My entire focus the past few months has been prepping my live show and getting ready to play my first major festival, so the second that’s over I’d love to get back in the studio!</strong
Lastly, I have a very important question: what is your favorite hipster food trend to come from New York?
Smorgasburg! My answer’s kind of cheating since that encompasses SO many hipster food trends, but I can’t just pick one! If anyone reading doesn’t know what that is, it’s a pop up outdoor food market with a ton of awesome vendors. You can also find the very famous ramen burger there, but I have to say that’s definitely not one of my favorite hipster food trends haha.