Q&A: Sophia Eris on New Music, “Space Jam,” Lizzo, and More

Radio host, artist, DJ, and one of Lizzo’s tour openers—if you don’t know Sophia Eris, you should
Sophia Eris

Graham Gardner

Some people enjoy their job; others live and breathe their passion. Sophia Eris is definitely in the latter category. From hosting GO 95.3’s morning show with Auggie 5000 to growing, singing, and DJing with best friend Lizzo on the Billboard-topping artist’s Cuz I Love You Too tour, Eris has made her presence known in the music scene, both in Minneapolis and around the world. In the midst of her hectic schedule, we caught up with her to chat about musical inspiration—who knew it would be Space Jam?—her style, and how she stays on top of it all. Keep an eye out for her next single, dropping this month, and, in the meantime, learn more about Eris and what she’s up to. ­— Katie Ballalatak

With so much going on in your life—from hosting a radio show to DJing to making music—how do you stay focused and motivated?

I definitely go moment by moment. If I’m doing the [GO 95.3] show on the road, I’m making sure I’m homed in and as focused as possible. When I’m on stage with Lizzo, I make sure I’m hitting the hypes and that the energy stays alive behind her. It’s just compartmentalizing moments in whatever role I happen to be doing at the time.

[It helps that] I was able to build my life around things that I actually like to do. I don’t feel like any of this is work. Luckily, I took the time and patience to build up [my passion] with like-minded people in a way that let me have a career. But I do feel like I still have a lot of things I want to achieve. There’s a lot of work that needs to be put in, but I guess [the other thing that] makes me stay focused is knowing that there’s still so much more that can be done.

Do you have a next big goal?

Continuing to travel the world, DJing, doing sets of my own, and also continuing to work on making music with Bionik and Lazerbeak. We definitely worked very hard before I started touring with Lizzo. We have like eight songs just chilling on ice.

In the far future, I would like to get to a place where I can help artists develop. I want to get into artist development and create my own hub where I can A&R (Artists and Repertoire) and help artists get from point A to point Z. That’s something I’ve always been into since high school, since I saw Brown Sugar, honestly. There was a character that was A&R in the movie, and I really wanted to do what he was doing. But I know that comes with a lot of knowledge, experience, and a good reputation, so I want to build this career right now so that years from now I can go into that realm as well.

[A big goal that I accomplished this year was] being added on the Cuz I Love You Too tour bill alongside Lizzo, Ari Lennox, and Empress Of. Everything’s been moving at such a rapid pace when it comes to Lizzo, and the ride has been incredible—I’ve been her DJ for six years!—but I wanted to get back to having a platform of my own within the tour, and to have an opener set is amazing.

What does your next project look like?

Because of my schedule, we decided it would be easier to just release single after single [instead of a full album]. I want to keep dropping singles and test the temperature of each one, see which ones people are feeling. That’s how I can learn which songs are best to put on the actual record when it drops. We have another single coming out called “Arrogant,” that we’re putting out in the end of August, right before the fall tour. I’m actually really excited about this one. And I would love to eventually drop an EP; I just want to make sure the timing is correct. We definitely have the material. I just want to be smart about it. Plus, I wanna enjoy the singles!

Is there a certain vibe you’re going for?

Honestly, when I sat down with the boys [Bionik and Lazerbeak] about this project, I said that I want to make music that’s like the Space Jam soundtrack. It’s the perfect blend of hip-hop, R&B, and dance pop. It sounds like anthemic, heavy music. I want to make music that cheerleaders would do in their routine at their championship. I was craving to create music like that because I haven’t heard it in a while. Power pop, hip-hop, early ’90s—I love that. I also know how Bionik and Lazerbeak work, and I know their sound, and I think that angle would be really good for their skill and production.

What do you love about the Minneapolis music scene?

I was just talking to someone at lunch about this—I love Minneapolis. I moved here when I was 19 years old. It’s extremely cultivating, and the sound is authentic. People really do create magic here, and the scene is extremely supportive. And I feel like [the process is], if you support, you grow, and you become supported. That’s kind of how the scene works from my understanding.

And, you know, with leaving Minneapolis—and all my growth that I’m doing with Lizzo, and traveling around the world—I want to take the knowledge that I’m receiving and put it back into Minneapolis. That’s why I love doing the radio show. I’m able to come back and speak about all my experiences, right in my backyard, every day, no matter where I am.

I’m gonna have a house here for the rest of my life. No matter where I go, I’ll definitely always want to come back. There’s something very magical about it. There’s an authentic spirit here that you can’t find many other places.

How would you describe your style?

Girl, I basically take how I feel on the inside and just try to match it with my outside, if that makes sense. I believe in style, not so much fashion. I feel like fashion is just a trend that could go away in two seconds.

Like, right now I’m wearing a golden red Coca-Cola Final Four hat with a gray hoodie and kickboxing shorts with snakeskin heels. That’s literally what I’m wearing right now! And my process was like, these shorts are comfortable, and these shoes are cute—I basically collect pieces and then put them together. If you have a bunch of really cool puzzle pieces, you can’t go wrong with what you wear. Just throw them on! When you’re comfortable and you walk with confidence, you can literally pull anything off.

Are you big into thrifting then?

Oh, yeah. I was in Amsterdam recently, and I just went nuts. They have the best thrift stores out there. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to really thrift, and I really get a kick out of it. My house is filled with so many clothes, and I have an attachment to all of them, so it’s hard to get rid of them. But I had dinner with a friend of mine last night and he basically said I’m a collector. So, one day it would be nice to make a little pop-up shop. Because I don’t want to just let them go! They’re all such good pieces. But I would be down to do a little pop-up shop where you can just shop through my looks.

Do you think your style has evolved?

Yeah! I’ve always really made anything work, but I think I’ve definitely gotten more specific with my pieces. There was a time when I moved, and I basically started collecting vintage only, so every piece was a one-of-a-kind. But I’ve started becoming more simple, too, like just focusing on more blank canvases. Now I’m getting back into shoes, but like heeled shoes. I have so many Jordans it’s not even funny, but now I appreciate a really good heel—not a 6-inch stiletto heel, though.

[For example,] I got these long crazy red leather boots that I just wore with a Snoop Dogg T-shirt at the BET Awards, but it popped off because the boots were crazy. I think if one piece of clothing looks really chic, you can balance it out with something that’s not so sleek. Those red leather boots that were thigh-high were fly!

Who do you have on repeat right now?

Me and the girls on tour listen to a lot of Megan Thee Stallion. We love her. And of course, I listen to Lizzo all the time because I’m on tour with her, but also because I genuinely love her music. It’s very good therapy for self-love. I love old R&B. I guess “old” is such a subjective term, but I personally love Toni Braxton, Anita Baker, Mariah Carey, New Edition, SWV, and TLC—my playlist is full of music from that era.

In general, I’m just very happy when it comes to women in the [hip-hop, rap, R&B] scene. I hate the whole, “How does it feel to be a female rapper?” thing. That question can go away. But I’m happy seeing how well represented we are right now. We’re dominating. It makes me so happy to have an even playing field going on, where that question doesn’t have to exist. It’s, “Oh, who’s your favorite rapper?” Not, “Oh, who’s your favorite female rapper?” There are so many amazing women out there.

What would you tell your 18-year-old self now?

If I were to go back and talk to my 18-year-old self, I would tell her to get a little jump start and start creating more. I was very quiet when I created; I would write and only share with myself. I wasn’t active and, honestly, it’s because I wasn’t in a scene that allowed me to be active. I was in Dayton, Ohio. There weren’t many outlets to express my creativity, which is why moving to Minneapolis was such a good move.

[I can’t help but think,] what if I started doing what I’m doing when I was 12? I didn’t start being really active in music until I turned 24 or 25. I was so into sports. So, if I went back to talk to my 18-year-old self, I would have said, “Yo, get out there more creatively, record more, push yourself more.”

This interview has been edited for style, length, and clarity.

Facebook Comments