[MUSIC/Contemporary ~AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE~ HUN]
by Adrian Miller.
As the voice of renowned electronic dance music duo La Bouche, Sophie Cairo might have expected to be touring the world right now, but for the arrival of a pandemic, and instead she finds herself living in Adelaide. This presents Adelaide audiences with a unique opportunity to see her perform a rather different style of music in a more intimate setting.
Performing her show Sophie Cairo – The Pianist And I – Hits Of A Century at Adelaide Fringe 2021, we chat with Sophie Cairo about her musical journey which began as a child singing with the Hungarian State Opera Children’s Choir and has continued throughout her life.
“Music was always there!” she begins. “One of my first musical memories is while travelling in our old family car, I heard Radio Gaga by Queen on the radio at the age of four, and I can tell you it had to be very loud! Queen was my first love; Freddie Mercury’s voice was one of a kind. So, let’s just say, instead of Hungarian lullabies I sang songs from my beloved Queen.
“I started playing piano and flute when I was seven while singing in a children’s choir, and from age ten I started to sing in the Hungarian State Opera House Children’s Choir. It was so much fun; it was amazing to be a part of those great opera stories, such as Carmen, Rigoletto, La Bohème, La Gioconda and on and on.”
In your career you have sung many styles of music, from show bands on cruise ships to Eurodance in the club scene.
“Oh yes. After my graduation from music high school, I found myself on the North Sea working with show bands, plus many other bands in Budapest. I had lots of session studio work too, and in 2002 launched my first solo album in Hungary.
“I started to work with DJs playing electro dance music live in big clubs,” Sophie says, “all while performing with some of the greatest jazz musicians around. My music life wasn’t boring at all. I love many styles and genres, but funk, acid-jazz and gospel music are my three favourites. Ok, pop music too! – All of which are not far from Eurodance, actually.
“So yes, Eurodance came into my life for a second time, first in the ‘90s when I was a teenager, and secondly with La Bouche the famous Eurodance group.”
You have travelled to many countries to perform, but was there somewhere in particular that you were expecting to go in 2020 before COVID 19 came along?
“I am so lucky to have seen so much from our beautiful Planet!” she says. “Even before La Bouche I travelled a lot as a singer, from Scandinavia to Indonesia, the USA, Mexico, and I visited Africa two times, as a traveller. From 2016, I travelled even more with La Bouche, literally from Continent to Continent, from Country to Country.
“If COVID hadn’t said hello to the World in 2020, I am sure, we just would have continued touring.”
Sophie tells us that she moved to Adelaide in 2016 as part of her Australian tour, but also to marry her partner of seventeen years, Zoltan, two years ago.
“Australia was love at first sight! My husband already lived here; we are so happy here and love everything about Australia – the unique and beautiful environment and animals, the ocean… we both love diving, hiking, and we love to become one with nature.
“I love Adelaide. It’s quiet, calm, friendly, not overcrowded, not too warm… just perfect for me.”
As well as being a singer you are also a songwriter and visual artist?
“I love to draw very much, but that’s only a hobby. Actually, I am not bad at it,” Sophie says, “but I’ve never learned properly. Writing songs or lyrics, or drawing for example requires inspiration, just like any kind of artistic work.
“I write my own songs, but I also cooperate with other composers. We have a small but professional home studio, and we’re recording materials constantly with my husband, Zoltan.”
When did you become interested in writing your own songs?
“I’ve always had ideas,” she says. “I tried to write short poems and melodies in my childhood, but to create complete songs it’s different, of course.”
In 2007 you had a big hit in the UK Club Chart with a song you composed with Jay Lumen. How did it feel to have such a success?
“To see ourselves on a club charts was unbelievable! The song Time In Motion landed on the famous Ministry Of Sound ‘Best Of’ Selection album; that was a milestone for sure!”
In 2016 you were asked to join dance music duo La Bouche. Was this a big change in musical direction for you? You are quite used to playing to large audiences?
“I got lucky to become a member of that team more than five years now,” Sophie says, “working with the original member, Lane McCray. I always loved dance music, and we all know the songs Be My Lover and Sweet Dreams in Hungary, so it was a dream come true to tour this much with this cool, melodic dance music.
“Nice period of my life! Standing in a front of 30-60 thousand people on large stages all the time, oh my God! Lovely! Do you know the biggest audience I sang to?” she asks. “Six hundred thousand at the Brandenburg’s Gate in Berlin, on New Year’s Eve live TV show 2017… Minus ten degrees below, in a ski suit [laughs]. That was awesome!”
What can people expect to see and hear if they come along to Trinity Sessions to see you?
“I can’t wait for these cosy concerts!” Sophie says. “I am performing alongside a wonderful pianist by the name of Brenton Foster. It’s going to be a duo concert, inspired by George Gershwin, and mostly by jazz. I will sing big hits of a century, such us Whitney Houston, Adele, Liza Minelli, and beautiful jazz standards.
“Warm welcome to everyone who’ll come along!”
What impact is COVID having on your future plans for writing, recording and touring?
“Well, life can be so unpredictable and it turns out that 2020 wasn’t fully booked, hey! I am not sure things will be back as usual any time soon, but who knows what the future holds? What I know for sure is that I am singer and I love being creative; I love to record and write my own stuff, and nothing can stop me.
“And I love to love Australia,” Sophie concludes.
Sophie Cairo – The Pianist And I – Hits Of A Century performs at Church Of The Trinity, Goodwood, from 7.30pm on Fri 19 Feb until Sat 20 Feb.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 and adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
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