Sophie Gibson played her first gig when she was 14, at the Talisman Hotel in Katikati. Her set list included Iko Iko and Pokarekare Ana. Since then, she has twice collaborated with American group Amité, and written music for a video game. Her concert stages have multiplied to include Auckland’s Summer in the Square series, MoveSpace, and Sofar Sounds, among others.
Now, just 30 minutes down the road from where she gave her first public performance, Sophie Gibson has released her first single, Reminiscing. In it Sophie looks back on a love lost, lessons learned, daily frustrations and treasured joys – it’s a song about moving forward.
Ironically, some of Reminiscing’s lyrics include phrases like; “…groceries from the supermarket,” and, “You forgot to buy the toilet rolls.” Inspired by the Covid-19 lockdown possibly? Sophie laughs.
“It’s totally coincidental. I wrote this song about a year ago now. I never wanted to show it to anybody. That’s why and how I write all of my songs – rather than trying to write a song, I’m trying to process emotions.”
In this case, the emotions are linked to Sophie’s gap year in Chile, where she had moved to live with her boyfriend.
“It was a mixture of me getting used to living a totally different life there. I felt out of my depth.”
Eventually, she decided to return to New Zealand.
“I felt like my head knew that I had done the right thing, letting myself move on. But at the same time my heart felt differently. It was just a massive conflict.”
Sophie’s mother Annette remembers what Sophie was like when she came home.
“It was a difficult transition. She was missing her friends and that life when she came back. I’m so proud of her courage.”
Over the next few months, Sophie’s feelings found their expression in her music.
“I try to make it so that my lyrics, my vocal performance, and my emotions are always connected. Music connects people. It’s not just about standing up there, singing your songs, and looking cool. It’s about making people feel like they’re part of something.”
Sometimes music re-connects people too. This is what Sophie discovered after the song was released, when her ex-boyfriend shared Reminiscing on social media. He also sent Sophie a message to let her know that he liked what she had written, his words giving her the final piece of closure she needed.
“This chapter of my life was finally closed. It was a happy chapter, and it was sad sometimes, and our lives are probably better for it. We’re friends now.”
With a song available to stream on Spotify, and the Covid-19 related restrictions easing, it makes sense to ask what’s next for Sophie Gibson? For now, she is being inspired by fellow creatives. She has a 1500-word psychology essay due soon, but is excited to make and share more music.
“There are still songs that are not ready for me to release, or use commercially. There are some of them that are about deeper topics that are difficult for me. I’m slowly working towards it, but it might take a while.”