You may know Soni as the female face and voice of BRealTV, as she hosts Toca Tuesday at Sutra lounge or as Ms. FunkBox every Sunday in Sullivan Room NYC. There’s a lot more going on accompanying the parties and pretty face. KWAK caught up with Soni in the midst of her album dropping, performances and DJ gigs.
KWaK: When did you discover your passion for music and the entertainment world? What sparked that fire in you and made you decide to follow your bliss?
Soni: My father was my first influence into music. He not only loved all genres but was a musician as well. Once I discovered I could carry a note, I knew in my heart there was a passion for the arts. My parents were very encouraging.
KWaK: You’ve worked on a few projects with the very creative film mind, Evan Iskovitz, a good friend to the fam. Tell us more about your visual connection with his work, and how it’s been collaborating with him.
Soni: Evan Iskovitz is a true visionary. Our common interests brought us together over a decade ago. He understands me creatively without any effort. He is a pleasure to work with and continues to inspire me. We have worked on numerous photo shoots together. Our most recent collaboration was the music video for my first release “Get It Together” featuring Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan off my upcoming album “Rebel”. Working with Evan is always a fun experience. You can check out that video, as well as previous work and collaborations, on VEVO, MTV.com and YouTube.
KWaK: We really love “Get It Together,” your collabo with Raekwon. Would you share with us what the inspiration was for the song, and how you and Raekwon came to work together?
Soni: I’m flattered you like it. I was actually driving around the city with the producer of that track, Dzilla when he popped in his CD and played some tracks he had worked on. His beats have Hip Hop’s Boom Bap feel. When I heard that particular track I instantly felt it and started humming melodies to it. 15 minutes later it was written. I didn’t think of having a feature at the time. Raekwon had a session with Dzilla and Tony Touch when they played him the track. He felt it and, well you know the rest. Such an honor to have him on the track. I’ve been a fan long before we met.
KWaK: I was able to catch your performance at ‘BET Music Matters.’ Applying an upright bass and violin was quite a touch! What is it about performing and recording with live instruments that you found more compatible with your sound?
Soni: I’ve been very lucky to have worked with the people I have. I couldn’t ask for better chemistry. Growing up in a house hold where everyone played an instrument was a huge inspiration to LIVE music. The sound and energy when on stage, in the recording studio, or in the crowd is such an organic feeling. The collaboration of other musicians is not only amazing but a learning experience every time.
KWaK: How does it feel to be doing what you’re doing, and killing it, in such a male-dominated industry?
Soni: I feel blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love. I try not to pay much mind to the fact that it is a male dominant industry so it won’t discourage me. Being a chameleon amongst men have been easy at times. It may have a lot to do with me having two older brothers. However, I don’t ignore it. Whenever I meet other females in the industry, especially ones I relate and connect with, it inspires me to unite with them to create and keep each other strong while having fun.
KWaK: What have been your biggest challenges over the years on your career journey?
Soni: Oh Hmmm… Well one current challenge is staying off the road till I complete the album. I love being on the road especially with others whether singing, road managing etc. I’ve released singles in genres such as house as well as collaborating on R&B, Reggaeton and Rap projects but I felt it was time. I love being home and close to family but I don’t think I’ve stayed still this long since I hit my first European tour in 2001. Deciding what direction I wanted to go on my first solo album took many years. Sure there are people out there familiar with my past work but there are many more in which I will be making my first impression with. Through those the years I have had people shut doors and try to discourage me. I learned that perseverance and hard work is key. Believing in yourself and being confident in my work means a lot as well. Why should anyone else believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself? As an artist I set my own standards. Society’s standards are cool but, I am a Rebel and if I lived my life according to the ways other people dictate I should, I would have given up on my passion before I even started.
KWaK: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started your career?
Soni: I wish I knew earlier that I could juggle multiple passions at once. I am currently in college while working on the album as well as taking DJ gigs here and there, dabbling in marketing and promotions as well. I always felt 2 things were more than I could chew till I just decided to go for it. You only live once. Why limit yourself to just one thing you fancy.
KWaK: If you could impart some wisdom to women coming into the hip hop/ music industry, what would it be?
Soni: If I could influence other women it would be to stay strong, independent, build a foundation for yourself, follow your dreams and stick together. I see more woman disrespecting or hurting other woman than I see them teaching to uplift and stick together in this so called “Man’s World”. It breaks my heart.
KWaK: Where can we learn more about all the incredible stuff you’re doing right now?
Soni: Social networks of course. I try to keep people up to date as to what I’m working on, where I’m hosting, spinning, performing and any music releases and videos as much as possible. Don’t really have anyone updating stuff for me. I’m pretty much a do it yourself in the social network department.
As an added treat, check out her video for “Get It Together” featuring, Raekwon!