Sophie Hutchings is a deeply authentic artist that is affected by her surroundings. This directly correlates to Sophie’s rationale around the carefully selected location where she recorded her new works. Nestled in the dramatic valley of the Byron Hinterland mountains, Echoes in the Valley, was organically born. The creation of the solo piano release saw Sophie intentionally remove herself from the chaos and building trauma the world was experiencing. This effort has led to a body of work that finds complete solace in pure simplicity, stripped back to an exposed minimum.

Music News caught up with Sophie to find out more...

Hi Sophie, how would you sum up ‘Echoes In The Valley’?
Echoes In The Valley is about stripping back all the layers to the bare minimum....

The whole mood represents the relationship between beauty and isolation. Finding solace in simplicity… In a way it's about decompressing.. In my recent bio when I talked with journalist Will Pritchard, I mentioned the sound is almost like you're diving into the lungs of the piano. Very exposed and raw yet fragile and soft at the same time. You could almost symbolically compare that to hearing a human breathe, reflecting on the fragility yet also the resilience of our human nature...

Before writing this, what were your aims?
With the complicated tumultuous year the entire globe has undergone, my aim was to simplify and to do something as organic as possible in approach, less is more type thing. I wanted to create room for emotional space and to do that sometimes you need to declutter and not turn to more things. I wanted to take a step back from everything and to feel like I could observe things from what felt like the outside for a little while…

Isolation for many can be a difficult thing but when it’s voluntary and in the right environment it can be very therapeutic and reflective so I thought it would be a good thing for me to do, to take myself away. A mellow uncomplicated approach, hence an isolated recording in a remote natural environment. To let the space of the scenic backdrop tell a story too and naturally weave its way into the atmosphere of the pieces and the recording. On this album, I wanted the natural world to speak louder than humanity.

There is a meditative feel, which transports you away. Is it the Byron Hinterland mountains you wish to take us?
Well, not intentionally, although it is a lovely place to take you if I could. It’s a very sub-tropical mix of farmland and forest, woven with hills. With the ocean off in the distance you get this soft mix of fresh tropical forest and sea salt air mixed together. It was very balmy and peaceful. In any case, I’d like the listener to be transported in whichever way the music takes them really. That’s the beauty of this kind of music. It's emotionally charged yet in a more deliberately understated way that can pull you in any which direction and yet still render the same reaction within.

In a perfect world how should the listener create the perfect environment for listening to this?
For me I personally enjoy this kind of music late at night or mornings in a bit of solitude or if one is having trouble sleeping but I would say somewhere peaceful where one can enjoy a bit of tranquility... somewhere where they can allow themselves to switch off and daydream for a little while. That could be in the comfort of their own home or it could be whilst traveling on a freeway and more…. This music is pretty versatile when it comes to the listening environment. I think the music will lead them to whatever imaginary place they want to go…

Do you have a specific writing process or can songs appear at any time?
Not really, only that I’ll have in mind either solo piano or more layered arranged pieces. It's very all heart and no thought process for me. I rely on instinct and some days it flows and other days it doesn’t.

Is nature the greatest inspiration for you?
I feel inspiration comes subconsciously but I would definitely say it plays a major part. I need alone time to create but I also need a mind cleaner and a reset button. Nature does that for me. It puts me in the right headspace. I think I rely on that aspect quite heavily and so it’s definitely a part of my creative process...

Did the seclusion of COVID change this music?
I don’t think so… I feel like the seclusion and the result of covid perhaps affected my approach to the music and the sentiments behind it …..

When did your love of the piano begin?
As early as I can remember. We had a family piano in the lounge room and my mother said I was always climbing up onto the piano stool to play. My earliest recollection was watching the reflection of my hands against the backdrop of the piano.. I remember thinking (even though what I was playing would have been pretty nonsensical) that it was so beautiful watching my hands move with all the black and white keys but I was always captured by the sound of the piano too and once I developed a natural feel and relationship with the piano, it felt very much a part of me and a way to express myself even through periods of not playing for a while.

What goals are left for you to achieve?
I don’t systematically map out goals but I’m always looking ahead and the goals I do have I keep a lid on as I tend to find that keeps me focused..
My main goal is to continue to create music that connects with people. Music has the ability to evoke powerful emotional responses and that’s what drives me to create.. It’s a unique form of communication and the more I share that with people the more it amazes me.

When could we see you performing these songs live?
That’s been pretty hard to plan with all the uncertainty in the air however Australian borders are finally due to open early December so perhaps next year in person, a possible online stream in the interim…...

Anything else you’d like to add?
I guess just how much my listeners are a part of all this. I appreciate them a lot and they’re beautiful feedback... As many of us agree there’s no language barriers with music. It’s a universal language and sharing and connecting through music is special. Without my audience I wouldn’t be here...

Many thanks you’re your time.
Thanks for having me…

Pre-order the album here.