On the bill for Peats Ridge Festival 2010/2011 this year is Sofiella Watt, who hails from Elands.
> Full Name: Sophie Watt. (Sofiella Watt – stage name.)
> Age: 20.
> City: Newcastle.
> Job: Musician / Waitress.
> Where did you grow up:
Elands (near Ellenborough Falls, West of Taree).
> When did you leave?
In 2007, when I was 17 – after a few months living in Italy, when I was 15.
> Where did you land?
I first moved to Lismore for four months to live with my sister, before moving to Newcastle to live with my boyfriend and to get a taste of a better music scene. I have stayed here for the past 18 months.
> Your playing Peats Ridge Festival. How did this opportunity come about?
I went to Peats Ridge Festival as a patron last year and thought it was one of the best festivals I had ever been to. There is such a diverse range of music, arts and food to choose from; I’ve never been to a festival that caters for such a broad audience.
I enjoyed the atmosphere and the attitudes of both the musicians and the audience members so much, that I made it a New Year’s resolution to play at the festival the following year. Much positive thinking and one online application later (including bio, pic and sample of your music) and I was on the bill!
> What were some of the biggest lifestyle changes from Elands to Newcastle?
It’s so much easier to find a creative scene and people with common interests. Rural areas can be a very inspiring place to be creating music, but at the same time very isolating.
I found it a lot easier to come out of my musical cocoon and really open up to people when there were a lot more ears tuning in. I still miss the space and the silence of Elands, though. Being able to stay up writing songs until 3 in the morning without bothering any neighbours is a real blessing.
> What is the best memory from home?
I used to go to a collective music afternoon every week at a friend’s house in Bobin, where I would do singing lessons. There would be a few different teachers tutoring a bunch of kids in different instruments. We would all catch the bus there after school, go swimming in the creek, run rampage and do our respective lessons.
There was such a beautiful feeling of community and creativity to those afternoons; I’ll definitely try to reproduce something like that for my kids.
> What is on your horizon?
After celebrating the New Year playing at Peats Ridge festival, I’ll be having my official EP launch at the Lass O’Gowrie in Newcastle. From there, I’m looking forward to the home-coming gig at Bobin Hall, which will be my last big gig before I go overseas in March.
I’ll be travelling around Europe for 3-4 months, busking and playing where I can, finding new stories for new songs. When I get home, I hope to find a good agent and really commit to my career.
I’m still putting a lot of thought into whether I want to stay independent or try to get signed, but that’s such a mammoth of a decision to make. I expect it will take a lot of back-packing to figure out.
> Favourite part of your journey so far?
Recording my EP. I was lucky enough to get free studio time with Kevin Ballard at Shureshock Recording through playing at the Wingham Akoostik Festival.
Kev was so generous with his time and patience, dealing with my perfectionist spirit. It was the first time I had ever played my originals with a band, and it was the most wonderful experience.
The musicians I worked with on the project were two very special people, with so many inspiring ideas and huge talent. We had so much fun, so many laughs, and I think that really comes through in the recordings.
> Best thing about growing up in the area?
A really strong sense of community. Every time I go back, I’m blown away by how supportive people are. Also, the area is just so naturally stunning. I miss how peaceful it is … the river and the bush and all that space.
> Advice to other young musicians in the area?
If you love it, keep at it. But be prepared to work HARD.
> PLUG: www.myspace.com/sofiellawatt
> Thank you Sofiella.