Singer/songwriter Sophie Sputnik has decided to record her debut album with the whole world listening in. Or at least for the whole crowd that assembles at Fort Lauderdale's Radio-Active Records on Saturday, October 1. On that night, the laughter-prone 22-year-old will unpack ten or so songs written on acoustic guitar for her project, titled The Chase.
"I never really got enough money together to be able to get the kind of studio recording I ever wanted, and I never really wanted to settle," Sputnik explains from her home in Deerfield Beach. "So that's why this live show is like a perfect set. I don't have to be recording with some dude-bro that I don't know. And also, I can get that aspect of what I feel and what I want in the song."
Feeling comes in no short supply for Sputnik's work, honed at open mics around South Florida, from "The Insecure Song," a dark meditation about rejecting the body one sees in the mirror, to the fiercer "Hotter Than Hell." These songs came, in part, through Sputnik absorbing lots of work by Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis and South Carolina alt-country singer Cary Ann Hearst. "I love how they're women, but it's not about being a pretty, little-girl singer," she explains. "It's about having, not to sound wild, but to kind of go wild and drink whiskey and act like Johnny Cash, even though you're a girl. And you don't get to see that a lot."
After spending three years in the quiet confines of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sputnik moved back to South Florida about a year ago and started an outfit called the Honeybats with her best friend, Melanie Adak. She has also laid down solid ties with another area musician gone solo, West Palm Beach troubadour Nick Eberhardt (Noble Rocket, the Darklights), and her management comes courtesy of area pop-punk the New's Natalie Smallish.
"I think she can bring something back to the music scene with her sincere writing that resembles a lot of the roots of music, such as blues," Smallish says of her young protégé. "She has some stuff built up under her belt that she's been hiding, and it'll hit with full force."
The recording is set to feature some personal moments with Sputnik alone on her Fender acoustic, but Adak will be there to provide backup vocals, and drummer John Paul Garcia will help fill out the sound. Though she admits that Regina Spektor's Live in London is a cherished album, Sputnik's absolute favorite concert record is from a less likely influence, Ben Folds.
"Ben Folds Live," she says excitedly. "It's just like the way he incorporates the audience. There's a song where he gets half the crowd to sing this part of a harmony and then the other half to sing [another] part. I listen to that album more than any of his other albums, and I want to do that too with one of the songs."
Sputnik speaks about her artistic future with purpose, and it's easy to believe in someone who already believes so firmly in her own work. Although she's pumped to capture her honest stage persona for this recording, after The Chase comes out, she hopes to get the traction and funds to record a proper studio album. "I don't know if you can tell by the way the sound of my voice," she says. "But I'm still in shock that there's still so many people who are willing to help."
Sophie Sputnik 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 1, at Radio-Active Records, 1930B E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. No cover. Call 954-762-9488, or click here.
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