Los Angeles-based, indie Americana singer-songwriter Sonja Midtune has just released a stunningly beautiful EP into the world with “Dreams Melt Away.” Her music hits that comfort-listening place we all need in the midst of these crazy days. From the touchingly sweet “Wildflowers,” to the plaintive “October,” to the shuffle and twang of “Pretty Please,” to the searching-and-wondering soar of “Los Angeles,” Midtune’s sweet vocals paint pictures of life on the Left Coast and finding one’s place in the world. The songs feel cozy and warm, like time spent with old friends, and draw upon emotions so universal that every listener can relate.
Flush with momentum after the success of her early 2019 single “My Light” and its popular video, Midtune was starting to look into updating gems from her back catalog for possible release when fate intervened and she fractured her leg. Faced with sudden immobility, rehab, and a fresh set of mental/emotional challenges, the resilient artist began reflecting on her life to date, and penned four of the most compelling, emotionally cathartic songs of her career. The EP was produced by Justin Glasco, who has worked with Christina Perri, Andrew Bird, Avril Lavigne, and The Lone Bellow, among many others.
Vents Magazine sat down with Midtune to talk about “Dreams Melt Away,” its special final track, “Los Angeles,” her unique – and fragrant – promo item, the turning point that breaking her leg caused, and processing life in her current hometown.
Hi Sonja, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’ve been hanging in there! Productivity is my survival mode, so I’m happy to have this EP to focus on.
Can you talk to us more about your upcoming EP, “Dreams Melt Away”?
Yes! I’m so excited to share this EP. It’s really a four-song art piece, walking you from growing up, to coming to terms with who I am/where I am now. I’ve made a candle to go with each song so fans can have a fragrant “listening experience”!
The song “Los Angeles” is really special. Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Not a particular event, just more of a concept. The first verse literally just came out one day, about my boyfriend, who takes care of me as well as so many other people in his community. I didn’t want it to fully be a love song, so my co-writer (and amazing artist) Katie Ferrara helped pull the rest out of me. We compare the relationship to the city: pretty on the outside, tangled on the inside. Personally, I think the song is more about me being a little lost through the lens of a healthy relationship.
Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?
Yes, the music video is ready to go! My boyfriend shot it all on his iPhone around the city and edited it while in quarantine
How was the recording and writing process for that song? How about for the EP overall?
The first verse just came out. I wrote it down but couldn’t decide where it would go in a song. A few weeks later, I sat down with Katie Ferrara to work on a song, we showed each other voice memos, and she liked my idea. We wrote the rest together in about two hours. I’ve never released a co-written song before, so this is a first for me! “Wildflowers” is another co-write (with Candice Kelly), and “Pretty Please” and “October” I wrote solo.
As for recording, I had a great experience working with my producer, Justin Glasco. We made my demos with my recording equipment over Zoom, then he started with the rhythm sections over Zoom from his studio. I only went in one weekend to do my vocals and guitar (with testing and masks). We had an absolute blast recording in pandemic times. I’d do it all again!
You are originally from Minnesota. What role has that state played in your music?
It’s played a big role. I write a lot about seasons (or the lack of them in LA) and process who I’m becoming while living in Los Angeles. The last nine years since I moved have been one long adjustment. I’m lucky to have family and friends in Minnesota that always support me
Your press materials say that you fractured your leg and subsequently wrote the songs on this EP. How did that experience fuel the songs you wrote?
After I broke my leg, I seriously considered ending my music career. I had just started to play sold-out shows and all the momentum suddenly stopped. I was in complete turmoil. My EP is about really coming to terms with who I was, who I am now, and processing the journey, so the injury is definitely a part of that.
Your music has a number of different flavors to it, sometimes it’s decidedly Americana, sometimes it seems almost indie-folk. How would you describe the music that you make?
I would call it “indie songwriter.” It’s definitely independent. The songs are lyric-heavy, with touches of indie, Americana, and folk sounds. We tried to stay away from instruments that would pull us in any one direction, like a banjo.
When you are able to head back out on the road, what song are you most looking forward to playing live from this EP and why?
Probably “October.” The song processes a lot of emotions, and I’m ready to sing and let them ALL OUT! It might not sound like a “sing-a-long,” but, trust me, it feels good. Give it a try!
Who are your biggest musical influences?
There are musical influences, musical heroes, and influences for this specific EP. For this EP, I think my biggest influences would be Ray LaMontagne, Jade Bird, and Michael Kiwanuka.
What else is happening next in Sonja Midtune’s world?
I have a few singles that I’m producing myself!