Wearing a printed golden suit by Suno, the singer-model-actress Sophie Auster enters the stage and proceeds to perform a couple of songs from her new album, Dogs and Men. Her guitar acts as a shield from the audience, that she barely lays eyes on while singing. Once finished, she leaves the instrument behind and her face transforms. What was a profound expression is now an open smile. She chats with some friends she recognizes in the public and happily attends the requests of her fans.
I had the chance to meet Sophie at the 212 Carolina Herrera Vip Rosé party celebrated in Madrid last week, where she offered a short but nice concert for the guests. Her friendliness and humility outshines her last name (she’s the daughter of writers Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt), and what I suspected during the party was confirmed after interviewing her: she’s awesome.
Sophie Auster has the luck to cultivate her two passions: music and cinema. She has already released two albums and will launch a new one very soon. She has also starred in several independent films, such as The inner life of Martin Frost (written and directed by her father), and we will see her in Indiana, directed by Toni Comas.
She loves Harpo from The Marx Brothers, frequently quotes Shakira, has the Apollo 11 sweater by Coach (I want it), and cries during flights due to extreme emotional movies such as The fault in our stars, that she watched on her last trip. Here you have a glimpse into the world of Sophie Auster. Expect reckless sincerity.
How is a typical day in your life? (if there is)
I don’t think there is really a typical day in my life because everything seems to change all the time. When I’m recording a record my life consists of countless hours in the studio. When I am releasing it I’m playing a lot of shows and doing press and interviews. When my life is in an in-between phase I am usually writing new material at home and seeing friends more often. Sometimes the unsteadiness of this life can be unnerving, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Why the title “Dogs and Men”?
“Dogs and Men” represent the two halves of the album. The “men” represents the love and break up side of the record and the “dogs” represents the surreal imagery that I deal with as well as references to animals. So out of these two halves came a slightly ironic but well suited title.
How has your music evolved since your first album?
My very first record was collaboration with a band called One Ring Zero. It was a novelty project. I only wrote a few of the lyrics myself and the rest of the album was made up of translated French surrealist poetry. The EP, Red Weather, which I put out in 2012 really feels like my first effort because I wrote and produced it myself. And even since then I feel like my material has grown tremendously. I’m very excited for people to hear Dogs and Men.
Which would be your dream concert venue?
I think everyone would like to play at Madison Square Garden someday. We’ll see!
Can you share with us a fun anecdote that happened to you on stage?
My band and I started this terrible tradition a few years back when we decided to eat Mexican food before our performances at this club called Rockwood Music Hall in the East Village. I have to say eating and drinking especially Mexican food before a show is really a terrible idea. So, as I get up on stage and I open my mouth to sing I feel my Mexican burrito dinner coming up as I am about to sing my first note. I swallowed it back down and belched off to the side of my microphone. I will never eat Mexican again before I sing!
Who would you choose to record a duet with?
I’d love to record a duet with Tom Waits, Antony Hegarty, Joni Mitchell, Carol King, or Kate Bush.
Which poets and writers inspire you for your lyrics?
Emily Dickinson, Theodore Roethke, William Blake, Tristan Tzara, Wallace Stevens,
Which labels do you wear on stage?
I’ve been big into tailored suits when I perform. I have a patterned gold suit by Suno that I love and I also have been wearing Costume National and Grace.
How was the experience of acting in Lulu on the bridge and The Inner life of Martin Frost next to your father? Did he give you any advice?
I loved being directed by my Dad. He sets a very harmonious and hard working atmosphere on a set and really brings everyone together. I am always impressed by how commanding yet kind my father is. Of course these two films were made at very different times of my life. Lulu on the Bridge was made in ’98 when I was ten years old and Martin Frost was made when I was eighteen. I think the advice my Dad gave me was just to trust myself and be calm in both situations.
Which of your father’s books was the first one you read?
The first book of my father’s I read was In The Country of Last Things.
And your mother’s?
Can you share a happy memory with your parents from your childhood?
The first thing that springs to mind is our summers in Vermont when I was growing up. I specifically remember my parents lying in bed in the old country house reading out loud to each other from one of my books of collected fairy tales. I remember jumping into bed with them and listening to them read.
Pictures from Sophie’s Instagram
You already sing and act… Which other talent would you like to have?
I am terrible at numbers. I would like to have a more mathematical brain and retain information faster.
If you could only listen to five songs for the rest of your life, which ones would you choose?
It’s impossible to pick five but here are some of my favorites that spring to mind: St. Mathews Passion #16 by Bach, Strange Fruit by Nina Simone, Take it with me by Tom Waits, Mother Nature’s Son by The Beatles, Solitude by Billie Holiday.
A Man Escaped by Bresson
Book you’re currently reading:
Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo
Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, and David Byrne.
Must-have beauty products:
Laura Mercier foundation and concealer, Bobby Brown Beach perfume, and Chanel mascara
Favourite places in New York:
The Frick Museum, Prospect Park, The Richardson, The Met, The uptown Armory, Tompkins Square Park, Edi and the Wolf, McNally Jackson, community bookstore, The Botanic Gardens, and Bowery Ballroom.
The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and French Vogue.
Photos by Clément Pascal for Kitsuné
Photo from last Monday’s concert in Madrid