Philadelphia rock quartet Soraia gave fans new music for the start of the New Year. The band released a 7-inch single titled, “Tight-Lipped” on Jan. 8.
The single follows on the heels of Soraia’s most recent studio LP, “Dig Your Roots,” which was produced and engineered by Geoff Sanoff (Bruce Springsteen, Fountains Of Wayne, Dashboard Confessional) and spawned a number of singles, including “Evergreen,” “Wild Woman” and “Superman is Gone.”
Soraia epitomizes raw power, unrelenting energy, chaos, and freedom. With a live show that is frenetic and intensely interactive, the band’s chemistry has been cemented through years of fierce, persistent touring from the dingiest dives to the most massive amphitheaters, helping them attract a worldwide fanbase.
Soraia is made up of ZouZou Mansour: lead vocal, tambourine; Travis Smith: bass, backing vocals; Brianna Sig: drums, percussion, backing vocals; and Nick Seditious: guitars.
PW recently caught up with Mansour to talk about the new music and life in the band during the pandemic.
How did you all get together? Did you know from the beginning that the chemistry was right and that the group would succeed?
Soraia formed after I decided I wanted to start a full-on band. I knew I was at the point where I was writing a lot of songs, and I had done a number of open mics to get my chops together enough to do a live show. Plus, I’ve always wanted to be part of a band/group with collaborative input since I can remember singing, which was 2nd grade. The band has changed members a number of times over the years, but I feel the main purpose, vision and focus have always been and will always be the same.
Chemistry is important with the writing even more so than with the playing, I feel. But still, the group we have together now has played together a while – and chemistry has developed. It’s not always instantaneous, but we play so much together, it always develops, even when it’s there to begin with. But there has to be some type of magic in the room when you all play together initially for you to keep being inspired and motivated. Otherwise, it’s drudgery. So when these things are constant, success becomes a matter of going with the flow and honoring your vision for the songs.
Wicked Cool’s Stevie Van Zandt has been a big supporter of the band. Can you talk a little about how that relationship developed and what it has meant to you?
Sure, I’d love to. We met in 2010 initially after he’d heard a song I’d co-written with the producer I was working with at the time. The song was called “Runaround,” and they still play it on The Underground Garage now – 10 years later! That song got me my first meeting with Stevie, and from there he’s stayed with me and mentored me, until we signed with his label, Wicked Cool Records, in 2016. So our relationship spans a period of time, and has a ton of mutual respect and admiration. We’ve written together, he’s produced our band, and he’s directed our career, aside from giving us opportunities to open for larger artists. He’s been not only our incredible friend, but a great advocate for Soraia – the band and our music. If you’ve heard of us, it’s likely Steven-related, if you go back to its roots.
You just released a new single, “Tight-Lipped,” (with a b-side cover of Aerosmith’s “Angel,” featuring a guest appearance by Wicked Cool Records labelmate Jessie Wagner). How did the song come together? What’s been the reaction of your fans?
“Tight-Lipped” was originally written in January of 2020 by myself and Travis Smith, who is also our bassist in Soraia. We’ve been writing together for 10 years now, and we’ve developed a great chemistry and compatibility that has served us really well. I was reading a lot of Shakepreare at the time, I remember – looking for references – I was very into “Romeo and Juliet” at the time, and loved that idea of an open-hearted, all-encompassing love. But also I found out what happened to the character of Ophelia in “Hamlet” and was outraged by it. So I decided to create Ophelia to be revived and stronger by the end of the song. If you listen to the choruses, you hear that she goes from being “Sweet Ophelia” to “Meet Ophelis,” who is a whole new person by the end of the song. It’s really a song of my own transformation from being tight-lipped about things in my life out of fear. I’m super proud of the lyrics and the meaning of the song. And Travis always brings killer music and tone that inspires the title line and lyrics in the end.
As far as “Angel” goes, Jessie and I had been talking this past summer, and decided it would be fun to collaborate on a song. We settled on “Angel” by Aerosmith, which was actually her choice. I had tried to sing that song as a kid, and failed miserably, so I thought that would be a fun way to redeem myself.
Anyway, we ended up posting it on social media and it blew up fast, so we decided to record it and release it.
So far, our community of fans has been ecstatic about it, one of my friends even called and cried to me about “Tight-Lipped.” It’s been a wonderful response we’ve never received before.
You’ve done a lot of touring in years past, so how have the pandemic and all of the closures affected you? How have you spent any downtime?
Well, we had to cut short our “Dig Your Roots” album tour which had just begun when the pandemic hit. That was a downer for sure, but since then we’ve found other ways to connect. We’ve also realized there’s nothing quite like a live show experience – for both us and the audience. So we miss it. It’s been an adjustment, but I feel we’ve used the time to write more, record in our rehearsal room some “one and done” releases which we’ve self-released as acoustic songs – and they’ve been very successful limited runs that sell out. Our fans love them. It’s a stripped version of covers we normally wouldn’t cover live, so they see another side of us, and we get to be a little more diverse than when we’re on the road. And vulnerable, too.
That being said, we miss touring. Badly. But there will be time to do it again – and in the meantime, we are all developing ourselves in other ways, as well as finding ways to connect with our fans in a different way.
What’s the Philly music scene like? Are there any local artists you’d like to collaborate with?
It’s hard to say now, but before Covid we all worked together and played together. I think Philly is just a town where you have to develop your craft to people who will be honest with whether or not they believe in you. Our fans have always told us the truth, whether it be about a particular song we’ve written or are covering, and whether or not we had a great show or a bad show. Philly is a tell-it-like-it-is kind of town, I believe.
But we all collaborate a ton show-wise, and we have started collaborating with a few artists we know from the scene on one-off songs, too. Philadelphia has a great rock community and a very sociable and communicative stable of artists.
What’s ahead for you after/if the pandemic passes? Back on the road? More new music?
Both of these. We are always working on new music, but getting back on the road is a huge priority, and a need for our fans and fans of music in general. We have to show them it’s safe when it is safe. We have to get out there and do what we do – what we’re great at – and that’s interacting with a live audience. I can’t wait to get back on the road, honestly.
What are the best ways for your fans to stay connected with what you’re doing?
All of our social media accounts are updated practically every day, and they can hear any and all of our catalog on streaming services as well as our label’s bandcamp: soraiawcr.bandcamp.com/
Here’s our other sites, too: