In the '90s, singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins made quite an impression on people with the entrancing song "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" and its accompanying video. She also had hits such as "Right Beside You" and "As I Lay Me Down."
Before her Dec. 1 concert in Evanston, she talked with Windy City Times on a variety of topics.
Windy City Times: You identify as omnisexual. Could you define that for me? What does that mean to you?
Sophia B. Hawkins: Omnisexual means that my sexuality is not dependent upon your gender or my gender. It's all about creativity. It's not really triggered about what your organs may be or what my organs may be. I've always known this. It's more dependent on a creative spirit and soul connection. Lots of people are coming out at omnisexual now.
WCT: Did you have a coming-out?
SBH: No, I didn't. I didn't think there was a point to coming out. I grew up in Manhattan, where there are lots of kinds of people. My mother was very free and exploratory as an artist and a lover. If anything, being totally straight would have been weird. It was at a time where, in New York, it wasn't an issue. We grew up reading all European literature. We weren't aware of this oppressive, repressive thing that was going on in the rest of the country. And my parents didn't care what I did, so there was no one to come out to.
WCT: What would be your advice for LGBTQ youth?
SBH: The only thing in life that is ever going to make you thrive is being around people who accept you for you. If your own parents don't accept you, you're likely to find abusive people. Because that means you love your parents and you're somehow going carry that on with you, their own hatred that they feel toward themselves. You're going to have abusive relationships. You need to build relationships [with] people who are equal to you. Then take that back to your parents, because I believe that there is always a way, If you come at your parents again and again with love, there's going to be a breakthrough. There is going to be one.
If you have the support, you can do that. It might take years and years. But know that your parent does love you. You can't hate yourself just because they're projecting their own self-hatred. Don't take it on. Don't hate the world. You don't even have to rebel. You just have to find people who are really going to make you be the best. And be aware. I have to say this again: You are going to pick people [who] are going to try and control you and abuse you and reject you because that is what you're trying to heal. And you're trying to heal that with your parent. And when you can't try to heal it with your parent, you'll try and heal it with other people. While you're doing that, you also need friends in a support group. You have to master it. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you get it.
WCT: What was your dispute with Sony like? [Note: A fight with the record label over her third album, Timbre, led Hawkins to establish her own independent label, Trumpet Swan.]
SBH: It was a pivotal time in the music industry, when our whole was world was becoming so corporate. They only cared about answering to shareholders in Japan. By the time we got to my third album, Sony was saying, "Lose the banjo." But the song had this incredible pathos with the banjo. It sounded like a child, like Huckleberry Finn on the raft with Jim. They said that I was too independent as an artist: "You do have lots of hits and we love you, but we need you to work with us." But actually, they were ruining the song. Each producer was worse than the next. [I thought,] "My fans aren't even going to recognize me." I tried and I tried. I'm a diplomat, but I was done. And unlike George Michael, they did give me my masters back. They didn't give them for the first two albums, but they did for the third. They never really paid the artists. They said, "Let's cut our loses and let her go."
WCT: I know you're involved in a lot of causes. What's next on your list?
SBH: It's the same thing. It's the day-to-day problems of life. We really don't want more carbon-dioxide producers, but we know that people need to get to workespecially people without money. What catches my eye is this idea of tribesthis idea of living in harmony against all the human aggressions, the toxins and pollutants. It's about being wise enough to get together and figure out each other's strengths, I told my son, "Going to college isn't necessarily what you want to do. It's about finding your people. It's not about going to the Ivy League and getting materialistic things; it's about finding your people."
This is just an observation, but mostly women are stressed about thingsspecifically, their children. And I'm a single mom so I know exactly how that is, but mostly men can say, "Relax." You just have to find your people. And I think men know that because that's how men survive the best. And women haven't technically had each other's backs until recently. I have to say this, and I have a son, and [it's] one of the things I've watched and observed with his male friends. I remember some other mother will criticize and nitpick some of his friends. And.I remember him saying to me, "Mom, I understand him." And I trusted him. I trusted him. This is the way women need to be with each other. I understand. It's something I've learned and I bring it to the women.
Sophie B. Hawkins will be performing (with Seth Glier) at Space in Evanston on Thursday, Dec. 1. Visit eventbrite.com for ticket information and purchasing.