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Chicago R&B Artist Sophia Galaté Gives Listeners All The “Options” For Her 2023 Single

Written by on October 16, 2023

From her earliest childhood memories singing and dancing, Sophia Galaté always desired to be an artist. Now, she lives her lifelong dreams as a neo-soul-influenced artist who’s performed in some of the biggest cities in the country, and beyond.

The Chicago artist virtually sat down with Vocalo to discuss her evolution from helping other artists chase their dreams to ultimately deciding to chase her own. 

Sophia Galaté by Julian Dakdouk, courtesy of the artist.

Sophia Galaté recalls singing and performing as early as 5 years old, taking stage at venues around her hometown and learning about Chicago’s deeply-rooted jazz history during her undergraduate years at Loyola University Chicago. Post-grad, fearing the challenges and vulnerability of releasing her own music, Galaté originally pursued a career working for other artists. But eventually, she felt the calling to become an artist in her own right.

“Even though I loved that experience, I knew that I had to transition into an artist,” she remarked. “It took me some time to figure out how to carefully pursue it … But once I made the jump, I felt so relieved.”

Reconnecting with her earliest dreams and the inspirations fueling her creativity, Galaté’s creative process is driven by her love for live instruments and has always been influenced by jazz. Whenever she’s writing songs, she considers how all the instruments will blend together, and how it will sound live.

Her musical influences come from a wide range of artists including Etta James, Amy Winehouse and Adele, blending elements of R&B, neo-soul and jazz to craft her sound. Although Galaté’s music falls under the R&B category, she does not truly feel “R&B.”

“I have this nostalgic neo-soul feeling in my music but I blend it in a way that is modern, which I feel makes some of my records classic,” she explained. “I love the hybrid of all my influences.”

Galaté’s single “Options” was featured in Vocalo’s “Poised to Break Through” playlist twice in 2023 — the in-studio version in February and live version in September. This was a fun song for the artist, she claimed, as she wrote it to a beat as opposed to her usual live instruments. “Options” is about the exciting feeling that comes with liking someone and being vulnerable at the beginning of a relationship.

Galaté has sold out shows in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, and even performed in London. Her journey from a behind-the-scenes role to being center stage is just the beginning, and she has plans for a new release soon. After her track was featured on Vocalo’s playlists, the artist broke down “Options” and its several versions, how she defines her sound and more.

Tell us more about your journey from managing other artists in the music industry to emerging as a singer/songwriter yourself. What was the motivation behind this transition?

I’ve been singing since I was 5 years old. I performed all the time growing up in my hometown and I always wanted to be an artist, it was always in me. But as I got older and graduated college, I got scared to pursue it because being an artist is really challenging and such a vulnerable thing to do.

I initially thought that working for artists would provide the same feeling — however, even though I loved that experience, I knew that I had to transition into an artist. It took me some time to figure out how to carefully pursue it in a way that was professional to my colleagues and clients, but once I made the jump, I felt so relieved.

Your single “Options,” and its live version, was featured on Vocalo’s “Poised to Break Through” playlist. Tell us a little bit about this song! What were the inspirations behind it?

I feel like this is one of my most fun songs. I wrote the original song to a beat, produced by D.K. the Punisher, and writing to beats was something I was not used to — I’m more of a live instrument gal. I thought that it was such a big deal for me to do such a thing, but I really loved the more aggressive retro vibe of it and I was glad I could make it my own despite it not being as “live” of a song. 

The song talks about the exciting feeling of liking someone at the beginning of a relationship, and I tell myself in the song that I have to be vulnerable and open up to this person if it’s gonna go anywhere… cuz historically, i’m not good at that. 

Sophia Galaté by Julian Dakdouk, courtesy of the artist.

What were the primary differences between recording “Options” in-studio and recording it live? What were the similarities? Do you like one version more than the other, and why?

I always love making and releasing live versions of my songs, because when I perform them live, I always arrange them differently than the studio version. It’s one of my favorite things as an artist, seeing how many ways a song can feel and be arranged. I work with this amazing band in LA called Katalyst and I just love the way they flip all my songs, they’re the ones playing on it, and this version it was obviously all recorded at the same time so the groove just felt locked in, in a different way.

You also released an acoustic version, sped-up version and three remixes of “Options.” For lack of a better word, why did you choose to release so many “options”/ different versions of this track?

Well, what’s cool is that the remixes were all done by fans of mine, so I thought it would be fun to give them an opportunity to showcase how they felt about the song. I was so grateful that they loved the record! I also love doing acoustic versions because I love the simplicity of just piano and vocals, it’s my favorite way to hear someone’s voice. And since the song is called “Options,” I thought I’d let you choose your favorite option.

You note Chicago has played a role in shaping your music. How has the city influenced your musical style and artistry?

I’m greatly influenced by jazz, and it wasn’t until college — I went to Loyola [University Chicago] — where I learned a lot about the history of jazz and the history of jazz in Chicago. I love the Chicago music community, because it’s so close-knit and I have so many supportive musician collaborators here. I also just feel myself the most when I’m in Chicago, so I think it allows me to lean into the most inspired version of me.

Your sound blends R&B, soul and jazz. What does your creative process look like when you’re writing music?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m such a live instrument lover, so whenever I’m writing songs I’m always thinking about how they’re gonna sound while performing live. Even if the song I’m writing isn’t “live,” I’m always envisioning a live element. When I’m writing lyrics and melodies, I try not to overthink because then nothing good comes out. A lot of my inspiration comes to me while I’m driving. When I have an idea, sometimes I listen to some of my favorite old songs for lyric or production ideas.

How do you feel your sound sets you apart from other artists?

As someone who falls into the R&B category, I really feel like I’m not truly R&B, which is why I think it sets me apart from other artists in this category. I have this nostalgic neo-soul feeling in my music, but I blend it in a way that is modern, which I feel makes some of my records classic. I love the hybrid of all my influences. Sometimes it’s jazz, sometimes it’s soul, but sometimes my acoustic songs are really just classic singer-songwriter vibes where the intention is to pay attention to the lyrics.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

I love Etta James, I’ve been singing her version of “Stormy Weather” since the beginning of time. D’Angelo, Amy Winehouse, Ahmad Jamal, Adele, Gene Noble; I listen to a lot of live albums that inspire me a lot, and a lot of musicians from the UK as well.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

You’ve sold out shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. Tell us about how it felt to sell out shows in those three iconic cities! How did each show compare/ differ? Did you have a favorite (and if so, why that one)?

I love performing so much, I want to do it every day. I’m so much more comfortable on stage than in the studio! Honestly, performing in these cities and selling out these shows was the best feeling, especially because it was less than a year after I put out my first body of work. I loved Chicago because y’all brought the energy, and I played with some amazing musicians – Peter CottonTale, Nico Segal, Dwayne Verner, Sherren Olivia, Nova Zai and my professor Victor Garcia – all of whom I’ve admired for so long. New York was really special to me because New York is so iconic. I was actually so nervous about the show because I didn’t know if it was going to be a good turnout or not, but it was and I loved playing with New York jazz musicians.

What are some things you do to prepare yourself for live performances?

Omg, I’m really OCD organized when it comes to everything, but especially shows. I manage most of my business myself, so I really carefully plan out the set list and the arrangements and transitions and some talking points. I also set design the venue, which is fun. But day-of-show, I really try to be calm. I always work out, but specifically on show days I run, to open up the airways. I don’t like big pump-up energy before shows, I like chill and calm vibes.

You also note you’ve performed in the UK. Tell us more about that! How was this experience compared to performing in the States?

I’m just so grateful that I’ve already performed in the UK! This was also within the year of my first release. I’m really just proud of myself because I had a goal to perform there and I did it so quickly. I love so many artists from London, and the soul and jazz scene there is so dope, so I feel like my sound resonates. I’m hoping to live there one day.

What’s next for you? What can listeners expect to hear soon?

I’m releasing a new song next month, it’s truly one of my most beautiful songs. It’s a ballad and it’s super relatable and emotional, and I’m releasing it with a live video so I’m really excited about it!

Sophia Galaté by Laiken Joy, courtesy of the artist.

Listen to Vocalo’s past “Poised To Break Through” picks on Spotify below…

Interview by Blake Hall and Morgan Ciocca

Written introduction by Blake Hall

Answers edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

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