by Anna Ervin
If you have yet to tune into the locally produced Play It Loud series by award-winning independent filmmaker Adam Hampton, it’s time to indulge. Play It Loud is sponsored by our friends at Grand Casino and was the topic of discussion between my boss and I when the name Sophia Massad came up.
Sophia is one of the most recent artists to join the series, but I had been seeing her name pop up long before this interview was released. You see, when I first started working for Herbage, I was eager to make more friends in the cannabis industry. So, like any millennial would do, I turned to Instagram.
It was hard to scroll past Sophia’s colorful, sparkly images that came up under geotag Oklahoma City. I loved the way she was breaking stigmas about the use of medicinal cannabis by, well, glamourizing it. Looking at her content, you might never imagine that Sophia, like so many of us, has a history of health issues. The focus of her brand lies not on her disabilities, but rather the capabilities that using cannabis has given back to her.
This inspired me, and I think that was apparent to my boss. It was only a matter of time before he worked his magic and I found myself sitting across from @the_dope_soph herself.
I was a little nervous. Sophia has not only worked tirelessly to create a sound that she is proud of, but also uses her music and her platform to educate and inspire the public about the benefits of cannabis. And she does it with so much fire. I decided to be upfront about how intimidating this meeting was for me, and boy am I glad I did. After bonding over our mutual enemy, anxiety (and laughing at our own fears), we dove right into one of the best conversations I’ve had in a long time.
I couldn’t possibly include every little thing we touched on (I’m not kidding when I say I had to cut over 11,000 words from this story), but I did my best to focus on the topics that highlight the most colorful pieces of Sophia’s journey. I hope that by the time you finish reading this, you’ll see the same shining light that initially inspired me to seek out her story.
Anna: So, I really wanted to talk about your journey with cannabis, and why you are so passionate about using your platform to break the stigma.
Sophia: Well, I was the queen of ‘weed is terrible, and nobody should ever have it. It will ruin your life and then you’ll do heroin.’ After I got my card, I realized that it literally is medicine. I really fell in love with like the fact that it can help you; it got rid of my anxiety, I was able to sleep, and creatively it sparked so much in me. It helped me get over a lot of social anxiety. Because I was homeschooled, I never learned how to interact with people, but when I started smoking it was like, ‘I’m just going to be myself. Fuck it. I’m going to do whatever I want.’
I don’t know if you’ve watched my Play It Loud interview, but now that I’ve said ‘I have Tourette Syndrome, and I’m also a normal person.’ And that I tried to kill myself, and I’m also a normal person. I just love the idea of normal people coming out, and saying ‘Hey, this is what I’ve done, now everybody knows that life is…’ I don’t know-
Anna: I get what you’re saying. You’re not just breaking stigmas about cannabis use. You’re breaking stigmas about mental health and wellness.
Sophia: I’m trying to. I just, so much want people to say, ‘I will stop taking this prescription medicine, because now I have gummies every morning.’ That’s how I feel because I was taking Ibuprofen all the time before cannabis. I was just always in pain. When I first applied for my card I had just gotten in a car accident where I rear ended someone. My head was real messed up, my back was really bad, and cannabis literally saved my life after that.
Yeah, it puts me in a better mood and it makes me think things are funnier, but why would that ever be bad? People say that it’s a bad thing, but I wasn’t a laugher before, and I think things are funnier now.
Like today, I had a busy day and I hadn’t smoked. I was just like, ‘Man, everything sucks. Everything sucks and I don’t want to do anything, and I’m not worth this. Why does anybody care about taking pictures of me, or talking about me, blah, blah blah.’ Then I took a hit of my pen, which is Green Crack, and it’s the best, if you have a Green Crack pen.
Anna: Green Crack is one of my favorite strains!
Sophia: Yes! It just makes me so creative. So, I had a hit of it, and ten minutes later I was like, ‘Dude, you’re a badass. Okay. I know what I’m doing. I got this. I trust myself.’ It was giving me that confidence to do more. I feel like I can sometimes look at things from an outside perspective when I’m high.
Where I kind of got started in wanting to be more of a cannabis advocate was through following Jessi Murray and Ãnna Frost of The Dope Girls (@thedopegrls). I was like, ‘Oh shit. I smoke weed, and I’m so scared of it.’ But I realized they are so successful and active. And then I was like, ‘well, I just have to accept it, let people know who I am, and show that I’m active.’ I’m not hiding the fact that I smoke weed all the time. It’s normal.
I feel like 2020 was a big year for me to say, ‘Okay. It’s do or die. I’m always going to do music, no matter what. And I can also be passionate about things like cannabis.’
Anna: Okay, I have to ask. What’s your zodiac sign?
Sophia: I’m a Virgo. Double Virgo. My birthday is two days before Amy Winehouse’s, and I feel really connected to that for some reason. I feel like we have the same emotions. I love her.
My 12th and 11th houses are in Leo, as well as my Venus and Mars alignments. Everyone is like, ‘How can you be a Virgo, and also be a performer?’ Because I’m kind of Leo, and with that I have always had a strong drive to create and perform.
Anna: So tell me about your journey into making music. Who or what were some of your major influences?
Sophia: My family is really musical, we’re all creatives. At a really young age I realized I could sing. When I was like eight or nine, I remember learning how to belt for the first time, and my parents were like, ‘alright. I see you.’ So, they got me vocal lessons.
I was the kind of person that would just turn on the music, and lay on the ground, and think about life. I remember listening to Kid Cudi and thinking that I want to connect with someone as much as Kid Cudi is connecting with me through his music. I just couldn’t see me getting through that part of my life without him.
I also loved Eminem. One of his song lyrics talks about wanting to do this just to reach people that had similar issues, even if it’s just one person. And I remember thinking, ‘Yeah. I just want to reach one person that has similar issues to me and show them that it’s okay. That I’m here for them and that they can get through.’
Sophia: I always grew up with The Beatles because my dad is so obsessed with them. I’ve seen all their movies. I’ve literally listened to The Beatles everyday, and there would be seasons of my life where I would fall in love with their different albums. Their lyrics are, in my mind and in my world at least, the pillars of song lyrics.
I remember those moments really sparking me to say, ‘this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to write music.’ I started writing really young. My dad taught me how to play guitar and my older sister taught me how to play piano. It was kind of the only thing that I cared about. Listening to music, and then making music.
Anna: What does your creative process look like when it comes to songwriting? Does Cannabis play a role in that?
Sophia: I don’t ever think that I’m making music. I think it’s just music that is coming through me.
One of my new favorite things ever is to listen to Lo-Fi music when I clean. While it’s playing I will write a song to the beat. Then I will take that and make my own beat, change the key, and make a song out of that, which has been really fun. It mostly happens when I’m smoking, I hardly ever clean if I’m not smoking. But I just kind of allow it to flow out of me.
Sometimes I’ll sit down and play an old song or a cover to get started. But sometimes I’ll just find some pretty cords and try to make that into a song. That’s mostly how my songs come about is sometimes I’ll hit a cord and be like, ‘Here’s the song. We got it.’
Other times it won’t happen at all. Most of my life I have really hated that, and I tried to force things. But at this point I’ve realized I’m not really in charge. A lot of people believe that waiting for the magic song writing orb to come amongst you is a terrible way to live, and it’s lazy I guess to some people. But I think it’s real.
Anna: It’s almost like you’re manifesting it.
Sophia: Yeah! But sometimes it comes to me at the worst times. I wrote Alone at Night on my notes and my recorder on my phone when I was teaching at a VBS for a church that I sang for. We had a break and I was like, ‘Oh my God. This is a really good song inside my head.’ So I’m making this song in my head talking about not being alone at night in the church that I’m working at. But it just had to happen then.
My creative process is truly all over the place. But if I’m ever in a block in the middle of writing a song I’ll smoke, or I’ll smoke more. And that will really allow it to just become a song.
Over quarantine I just chilled at home all the time, making music, and I wrote maybe 100 songs, and I just wrote a song a day for most of 2020, just for fun. I remember so many times I would get frustrated and be like, ‘This song is going nowhere. I’m doing nothing. Nothing is worth anything, and I’m quitting music.’ And then I would go smoke a joint and come back and be like, ‘I am amazing, and this song is great, and this is how it’s going to go.’
Anna: I’m laughing because I can relate so much with my writing. I do the same thing. At the end of the day you just have to trust the process. Cannabis really helps with that.
Sophia: Yeah, it just makes me so much more relaxed and able to notice what’s actually happening in life. I’m such a people-pleaser, and such an over thinker, but cannabis just makes me an artist. It allows me to just do art. So, to answer your question, I don’t have a solid creative process. It is more of a creative creative process.
Anna: If you could give yourself one piece of advice when you first started writing and recording songs, what would that be?
Sophia: You know, on the Play It Loud Interview I was like, ‘Trust yourself. Trust yourself always.’ And I’ve really been thinking about that because I don’t always trust myself now, as an adult.
Basically, I spent my childhood writing these songs and I recorded them around age 16, releasing them around that time as well. I spent all of my graduation money on the album. And I was just so afraid of other people not loving it.
I guess everything I was afraid of happened. I still have probably 500 albums in my garage of my EP. I was so afraid of what people were going to think of me and I was so afraid of it not being the best thing in the world. But in the end music isn’t about being famous or popular and if it is then it’s probably not the right kind of music.
You should be making music for yourself. It is your own kind of therapy. It is basically journaling out loud. Just doing it is enough. I wish that I had known that making an album was enough. It didn’t have to be a perfect album for everyone. Why would I want to be famous based on an album that I didn’t personally love?