Rat-ta-ta-ta-tat and a lot more...

Karen Sophia Squire is around in the business for some time. She grew up and still lives in Spanish Town, Jamaica. In 1993 she decided to take on music as a profession and did her first cover version of a song titled "Like This And Like That" that was never released. She did other cover versions such as: "Understanding", "Just Kick It" and "Sentimental". She also recorded her own material along the way. Around the year 2000 Sophia started to work as a backgroundsinger for Gregory Isaacs and did this for the following years before starting her own career again. Sophia currently has over 30 recordings from which she plans to select her debut album. "Everyday It’s The Same (Rat-ta-ta-ta-tat)" recently released, "Nuh Gunz", "Baby I Love You" (a collaboration with Lutan Fyah), "Empty Promises" and "Are We Gonna Make It" are just a few of the strongest tracks everyone definetly has to listen to! Sophia has just now been confirmed as a solo artist for this year's Reggae Sumfest. There she will perform on July 24th as a part of the Sumfest's International Night with artists like Queen Ifrica, Jah Cure and more.

Which artists would you consider as mentors for yourself?

No specific artist, I’ve taken a little from many artists of different genres of music.

How do you come up with lyrics? Is it something that you really have to sit down and concentrate or do they “fly” into your mind?

My lyrics can be from a personal situation, which makes it easy to write, however, it sometimes just flows with a good mood, but there are times when it’s challenging to write.

From what I have read about you on your myspace-site you have a daughter. Is it hard for you to combine family-life and the life of an artist?

It can be really hard, to combine family life as an artist with music. There are sometimes no schedules for certain work (dub plates etc). As you go along you realize you’ve been missing out on quality time. Personally I try to spend as much time with my daughter, but sometimes your not around when they need you the most.

As with almost every musical genre men dominate reggae as well. How would you describe the situation for women in Jamaica trying to get attention as an artist?

The situation with women in reggae music have somewhat changed. There are many female artists coming out now, producers have been giving women a chance, unlike back in the days, where some women were used for sexual favors to be recorded or introduced to the music scene. Music as we know it is male dominated and females were sometimes just seen as background vocalist, nowadays, women have been much stronger, demonstrating their strength, versatility, knowledge and stamina in the business.

You have sung backgroundvocals for Gregory Isaacs for some time. What would you say is the biggest thing a veteran like The Cool Ruler tought you?

Yes, I’ve been singing with Gregory Isaacs for 4 to 5 years. What I’ve learned is respect for the business and for myself, also, the power of reggae music and how much effect music itself has on our industry and especially the younger generation.

You are currently working with another veteran, Max Romeo. Is it important for you to have older artists with many years of experience to give you advice?

Personally for me I’ve always been lucky to work with mainly veteran artist. They’re more respectful to you and the business, disciplined, and they have worked hard for years to accomplish what they have and where they are. Their stories on the road in the past in comparison to now makes you appreciate them and the music more.

I have recently asked Hi Kee, a young and talented artists also coming from Jamaica, the same question: There are critics pointing out, that most of the better crafted rddims don't come from Jamaica anymore. They are made in the United Kingdom, France and even Germany for example. Do you agree with this? And if yes, what is the reason for that?

I wouldn’t say that. There are great musicians here is Jamaica, we just don’t highlight them, because they don’t have certain status. They sometimes go unnoticed. Not to say that other musicians in Europe haven’t adapted well and will certainly play reggae exceptional. But we still have great, great musicians here.

Over here in Europe we hear a lot about the violence and poverty in Jamaica. What do you think are the biggest social problems in your country?

Straight to the point: not enough jobs, costly education and educational supplies, poor rehabilitation centers, cost of living extremely high, so it’s hard and very challenging for one to cope, but you just have to.

Are there any projects in the pipeline right now that keep you busy? What is to be expected next?

Many things in the pipeline from shows, to promotions, but mainly, it’s getting me out to the public worldwide for them to hear what I have and am capable of. I’ve been working none stop, both on my career and myself, along with my manager and publicist to mold me into someone warm, exciting and witty, sharing my versatility and still keeping it real. Just being myself.

Interview: Karsten Frehe (06/2009)

Management: Breddi