'I'm proud of my weird songs for getting us here...'

Maija Sofia, a songwriter and artist, features in our Person to Person this week
'I'm proud of my weird songs for getting us here...'

Songwriter and artist Maija Sofia, who performs at The Crane Lane as part of The Quiet Lights festival.

Maija Sofia is a songwriter and artist set to perform at The Crane Lane on Sunday November 21 as part of The Quiet Lights festival.

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Maija Sofia, I'm a musician / writer from the countryside in co. Galway. I released an album called Bath Time just before the pandemic and am currently finishing up making a second one.

Songwriter and artist Maija Sofia.
Songwriter and artist Maija Sofia.

Where were you born?

Galway city, but I moved out to the country before too long.

Where do you live?

I kind of live between places, my most reliable permanent address is probably in Dublin, but in the last year I have lived in two different parts of Cork, briefly Galway, briefly Dublin and I'm in Nicosia at the moment.

Family?

My family is scattered all over the place, some of them are biological, some of them I've chosen myself.

Best friend?

I'm too indecisive to pick favourites!

Songwriter and artist Maija Sofia
Songwriter and artist Maija Sofia

Earliest childhood memory?

I have a really strong memory of a dream I had when I was pre-verbal, in which I was diving into the Corrib river in Galway looking for pearls.

Person you most admire?

My sister.

Person who most irritates you?

People in the 'music industry' who preoccupy themselves with the 'industry' part and also like to dole out unsolicited advice to the people more concerned with the 'music' part.

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

Anyone even remotely compassionate who will take the climate crisis and the housing crisis seriously and factor that into all financial decision making!

Where was your most memorable holiday?

I've just spent the last few weeks in Cyprus for the first time, where half of my family come from. I'm not sure 'holiday' is the right word, but it's been very overwhelming and emotional.

Favourite TV programme?

Twin Peaks! and also Gilmore Girls, depending on what mood I'm in.

Favourite radio show?

Lot's of shows on Dublin Digital radio, especially Desibel which looks at music from the South Asian diaspora and Maria Somerville's breakfast show on NTS.

Your signature dish if cooking?

I'm not very motivated with cooking unfortunately, so probably some kind of really quick pasta thing. Sorry.

Songwriter and artist Maija Sofia
Songwriter and artist Maija Sofia

Favourite restaurant?

Saligaros in Athens, I just spent the last few days hanging out there listening to live Greek folk music with my friends and eating meze and drinking raki. I don't think I go to restaurants enough to have a favourite one, but that was fun.

Last book you read?

I've been re-reading This Happy by Niamh Campbell, an Irish writer I think is absolutely brilliant. One of those books I keep gasping out loud reading because it's revealed ways I've felt about experiences that I hadn't even registered at the time. She has a new book coming out soon too I think.

Best book you read?

Too difficult to pick just one! But I think The Waves by Viriginia Woolf really set me on a certain path when I first read it as a teenager, and it's one that always comes to mind when I get asked this question.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

A mysterious tape of Sufi music I got from a flea market in Istanbul a few weeks ago. I haven't listened to it yet.

Favourite song?

The Hounds of Love by Kate Bush.

One person you would like to see in concert?

I would have liked to have got a chance to see Bowie before he died. I'd like to see Eartheater live soon because she mesmerises me.

Do you have a pet?

My mum has a cat called Gladys who I like to visit.

Morning person or night owl?

Night owl constantly in battle with myself to be a morning person.

Your proudest moment?

I don't think pride is helpful as I'm not sure where my songs come from, but I think a good moment was when me and my friends who are also my band were waiting in the wings of Vicar Street to go on stage at the Choice Award ceremony in early 2020. We were whisper-singing ABBA songs to each other to calm our nerves, and I had a moment of being like - wow this is actually quite mad, I'm proud of my weird songs for getting us here.

Songwriter and artist Maija Sofia
Songwriter and artist Maija Sofia

Spendthrift or saver?

Anxious spendthrift! Constantly YOLO-ing all my money away.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

I guess I officially live in Phibsboro, on the north side of Dublin - where to begin? I'd bring in rent controls and half the rent prices, ban the building of any more hotels or 'student accommodation', set up a community space similar to Jigsaw (RIP.) Sorry that was a few things!

What makes you happy?

Writing good songs, being affectionate, swimming in the sea, getting completely lost in writing so that I forget the world around me.

How would you like to be remembered?

I'm not that bothered about being remembered, but hopefully fondly.

What else are you up to at the moment?

Writing a lot, and just living and experiencing after a year of relative stasis.

UPCOMING GIG

Maija Sofia is a songwriter and artist from rural Galway. Her debut album 'Bath Time', a collection of songs exploring female experiences and shadow histories throughout art, literature and folklore was released in November 2019 through Trapped Animal Records. It was critically lauded as a poignant genuine original, receiving a five-star review in the Irish Times and a nomination for the RTÉ Choice Award Irish Album of the Year. It centred on electric guitar and voice with additional harp, analogue synth and more experimental instrumentation. It was described in the Sunday Times as "quietly breathtaking [...] the arrival of a unique new voice."

The acclaimed musician will take to The Crane Lane stage 6pm, Sunday 21 November, as part of Quiet Lights festival, with Ballydehob singer Molly O’Mahony on support. Quiet Lights is an exciting and well-loved winter festival with a big heart which aims to shine a light on the new wave of Irish and International folk, traditional, and experimental talent that are quietly forging new paths, recollecting old tales, and creating new stories. The fourth iteration of this winter festival – which is also welcoming Lisa O’Neill, Lemoncello, Junior Brother, Niamh Regan, The Lost Brothers, & many more - will be happening in various venues across Cork city, November 18 to 21. For more information, or to book tickets, visit quietlights.net 

Quiet Lights Presents Maija Sofia and Molly O'Mahony on Sunday November 21at Crane Lane Theatre Doors: 6pm Tickets: €15 Sunday Bundle Ticket (including Junior Brother & Trá Pháidín gig): €25.

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