Music is the companion we never notice is there. We use it every day, to get through our days, and yet consume it at such a fast pace that the lines between the loud moments and the quiet moments often become blurred. However, once in a while we'll hear a song (in this case a whole mini-album) that'll cause our world to pause, and our attention becomes focused.

This is exactly how I felt when I found myself listening to Yeah No Fine by Sophie Strauss. The tracks off the mini-album display love and self-reflection in levels of neurosis and genuine intrigue. Listening to the project forces you to really listen, and it doesn't take long to find yourself identifying with the summers and everyday life that Ms. Strauss depicts throughout her album. I met with Ms. Strauss in a café in East Village to discuss how the album came to life.

When did the writing start for Yeah No Fine?

Some of the songs I wrote as long as three years ago. The earliest song was written when I was about 19, but it's changed quite a bit since then. Apart from that, the rest of it was written and formed over the last year and a half. Some of it came together on my own, and other songs came together as a collaboration with a guitarist.

Do you find that when you listen to the oldest of songs, that you find quite a contrast between who you were then, to whom you are now?

Yeah, I feel very different, and I'm always writing as well. The thing that's interesting is because of that, I'll look back on stuff I've written at times and sometimes think 'Wow I feel so disconnected from this, I don't even know what I was thinking.' But what's interesting about that is that those songs help me to look back and notice how differently I felt about things. It'll be like if the song changes what it means to me, over time. For example, the song 'Warm Bed', is a song I wrote immediately after a break up, when I was feeling very sad. When I was in the studio recording it, three years later, it kind of took on this cynical, kind of angry thing, but it's funny because I wasn't intending it to be that. It just kind of took a life of it's own.

That does make sense to me, especially considering how with a break up you find yourself viewing it so differently after some years go by.

Mmhmm. New people come into your life, things change, and you gain a different perspective that doesn't make the experience necessarily meaningless, it just changes what it meant to you. I like that about music.

And to add to that, something I've found quite interesting, the older I've gotten, is how when you look back on relationships you begin to think of yourself in the context of them more. Especially in the aspect of where you might've been wrong, and not as right as we previously thought we were.

I do know what you mean. This might just be me, but I do think that there have been times where I victimized myself in a sense of survival almost. It's like 'Yeah, this person treated me shitty, and I'm hurt by it' but in reality it's 'oh wait, I did something wrong actually. It takes two to tango.'

To put out music, to have a form of your personality being expressed for people to indulge and dissect, you need confidence to just do that at all really.

Absolutely. I really do think that there is an element of being confident and crazy on just putting music out, because of just that, the way people might dissect it. It'd be so easy to lose your mind if you found yourself wondering 'Will anybody listen to this? Will anybody think this is good?' For me, it's very important that I'm able to look at what I've made and to say 'Yeah, I can see someone enjoying this.' This is maybe kind of cool even, especially because people will say some really nasty shit regardless so you need confidence to survive truly.

The songs off the album did feel cohesive to me, but I was also intrigued by how each song had its own distinct personality to it as well, especially in relation to one another. The songs that immediately come to mind are 'Walk Easy' and 'We Were Cool.' Were those songs written months apart or weeks apart?

Those two were written months apart. They're totally coming out of a similar experience. One of them is more of a realization to there being two sides to every story, surpassing the aspect of being a victim in a relationship. And, 'We Were Cool' is about how other things can be happening in your life, just several months later, yet you'll find yourself reminiscing about this particular time in your life, when things were fine and not that difficult. It's interesting, because even within just one song, I feel that the EP is very eclectic. With each song I feel as though I write from multiple perspectives/POV's, and what that does is that it'll allow it to contain several relationships at once, rather than just one full on narrative. A lot of that has to do with how I am and how I take things in, it's like we were saying before about the importance of correlating your experiences with those of others and understanding your place in a situation. I think that's totally how I write songs, trying to synthesize many small things, as opposed to tackling one big thing, and having this song about this specific thing, and then another song about another specific thing.

When did you begin creating music, and when was the shift between having it as an interest to making it into what you do? There tends to be quite a specific shift between the two.

I've always loved performing, especially when I was really little. I'd be with my family at functions and dinner parties, and I'd always end up, I'd just make them listen to me play something. Even if it was something like the Little Mermaid a capella, and yeah I liked performing and being on stage, I liked the rush of it and when I was 16 I started writing music. I was playing piano and guitar, but I couldn't really put the two together.

That's interesting, I usually hear that it tends to be quite symbiotic, the piano and guitar.

At times, but with me it was quite different, especially because when I make music I tend to start with lyrics first. It's actually been a surprise, the past couple of years because it feels like I'll constantly come across musicians who don't do that.

That is true, I've seen it as well - it does feel like many musicians will aim to do everything first and aim to do the lyrics last.

I think it's helped for me though, because I've always been chatty, so words have always been quite a big part of my life. And then the aspect of melodies and harmonies come quite easy for me, in contrast to instrumentation. A lot of times, the music will come to enable itself towards the lyrics, and that tends to be the main struggle for me at times, writing the music as opposed to the lyrics. I have quite a few. I call them 'spinster lyrics,' just a collection of lonely lyrics that live alone in my computer, that'll probably never see the light of day.

I particularly love the wordplay on the opener, 'In The Freezer,' especially how it starts. I was curious, were you talking about a very particular summer on that track?

I was. It was the summer of, I guess two summers ago. It's funny because that's one of the things I've changed over time. The original lyric was "everything I saw in high school" and I changed it because it felt too unrelatable in a way, because it wasn't a song about high school and it didn't correlate with high school at all. And then I realized I wrote it over a summer, a bit of a weird chaotic summer. I played around with using that word (summer) and it ended up feeling fitting, because I wanted a word that could relate to youth and well, summer is, as I'm about to graduate, I'm realizing more that summer is something that really is for kids. When you have a job, and are a functioning adult, summer takes on a totally different meaning, in contrast to when you're younger and out of school.

It literally is the weirdest thing. It's quite the learning curve as an adult.

It is. So yeah, it's interesting, because originally it didn't feel like it'd be a fitting word and then I began to realize the weight it could have, and that by using the word 'summer' it could add a sense of emotion and temperature to a song, that high school just didn't do.

When you say chaotic, do you feel the things you went through somewhat inspired how you've approached writing? I've found over the years that the things you'll write about as a songwriter tend to be topics you'll never expect to write about.

It was a very disjointed summer. It's weird because on one hand, I was pretty miserable but on the other I had all these cool/interesting things happening, and I guess it was eye-opening in learning that you can be having fun and still feel sad inside. I was working random jobs, and hanging with friends, but was feeling very emotional. It was a constantly pull and forth.

I can definitely relate to that, I've so had a summer like that before. Or, maybe even several. But no, I do get it, especially in a place like this (New York). It's quite like the contrast of being here, or in a metropolitan city in general really is you will have a life you can be proud of, and you will have friends and that, but there really is a bit of a very big contrast between what you feel inward and what you project outwardly. Even though this is a very progressive place to be in, it's still quite an 'out there' thing to openly say: I'm upset.

I agree, yeah. I'm originally from Los Angeles, and people always ask me what's the hardest thing about living in New York, and they ask about the biggest differences. And it's funny, the biggest thing I've noticed after being here, almost immediately, is that in New York, you really learn how to cry on the street.


Yeah! In New York, nobody gives a fuck if you're crying out in the street here. And what informs that is that you spend so much time out of your apartment. I think New Yorkers spend more time out of their homes than most people, and it just becomes your default mode to be surrounded by so many people. You might be at school, or work, or at dinner and you'll get a random phone call or something for example, and then you'll feel overcome and just go 'know what? Nobody is really going to care' and you just let it go. But yeah, you notice quickly with New York that people either cry on the street or emote outwardly, or they'll keep things bottled up for hours upon hours and then just unload once they get to their place. I wish I could do that, but I'm a very emotive person.

That's something else isn't it? It's interesting, I used to very much be into bands growing up, that aspect of a group and what they'd do together always appealed to me. As I've gotten older, I've found myself getting into solo artists more, particularly singer/songwriters. For me, I've been drawn to the aspect of how they'll paint vivid pictures of their experiences, and some might find that to be 'confessional' which is the word that's used quite a lot to describe singer/songwriters. Do you feel that when it came to writing this album you were comfortable with how people might associate you with that word, or was it something you wanted to be distanced from?

Yes, oh yes. It's a conversation I'm always having with myself, actually. I've been quite reluctant towards that title, partially because of the assumptions associated with it, and it is totally arbitrary feeling that way. But yes, I have been quite reluctant at times to call myself a singer/songwriter, even though I am a singer/songwriter. But the main aspect of that reluctance is that so many people associate the genre as a girl-playing guitar and practically reading her diary, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it's really hard to not get pigeonholed into something. I used to play a lot of ukulele at open mics, and that was just…

Lastly, I'd imagine that after creating a body of work it'll end up feeling like an accumulation of your feelings, experiences, and ideas, just as we discussed. Looking back now, does it surprise you that these are the experiences that you ended up writing about?

I feel like a lot of it happened accidentally. I very rarely try to write about a specific concept, and more try to write about little things, random occurrences, and little details, and then the bigger concept will form itself from that. Sometimes I recognize what that concept is, very quickly, but other times it'll take a bit longer for me to realize what it is I'm trying to say. 'In The Freezer,' is a prime example of that, where other peoples reactions and interpretation to the song has been vastly different to what I would've expected, and those interpretations allow me to look at the experience the song is about in different ways, which is really cool. It made me think about all these different things that I honestly wouldn't have thought about before. Especially because all of this, right now, is so new to me. The aspect of putting music out and getting a reaction, right now, this is all so very new to me. This is the first time having to explain what my music means, and it's quite exciting.