ARTISTS

 

Years ago, I spent my time wandering the halls of OCAD University, which was where I met Gabriela. We had both enrolled in a musical instrument construction class and spent half a year making flutes out of PVC pipe and ukuleles that held together just long enough to be graded (well, mine anyway). Once the class ended, we kept in touch online, and it was here that I learned of her sister Melody, and the incredible talent they both encompass as artists, designers, photographers, and musicians. Living vicariously through their travels, I caught up with them before they head out west to continue pursuing their career as the musical duo, Sonagur.


 
 

Describe what brought you to what you're doing now.
We were born and raised in Switzerland and eventually moved to Florida. After a lot of back and forth’s between Switzerland and Florida, we eventually transitioned to Canada. We grew up with creative family members and parents who were both musicians. We dabbled in a lot of different creative things as children - painting, drawing, dance, photography, and music. And once computers came into the picture, a lot of our time was spent designing banners, avatars, learning HTML to edit our Neopets profiles, and making clothing for our Sims. Maybe it was the time spent in Swiss schools where crafts were valued from an early age, or maybe it was those Sunday School teachings telling us that anything was possible with faith, or maybe it’s all in the genes, but somehow, these were all factors that led us to pursuing what we crave to do and become the people that we are.

It's great that you've had the opportunity of experiencing such different areas of the world. Which cities have you enjoyed the most and what have you learned or taken from them?
Gabriela: 
I don't know if there's a place I've enjoyed 'the most' - I think every place we lived in had its ups and downs and a purpose for it. Growing up in Switzerland, especially from kindergarten to grade 5 or so, we spent a lot of time immersed in nature and creativity, taking trips outside, learning about apple trees and making apple sauce, going mushroom hunting in forests with our grandparents - I didn't realize back then how much those little things impacted my life, but they did. Florida taught me a very important language - English obviously, and being immersed in the States, surrounded by a culture that believes in 'pursuing your dreams', it gave us a confidence to believe in ourselves and our passions. We were involved in several churches with our parents and grandparents, and from a young age growing up, I always thought a lot about spirituality and philosophy, and always felt a strong bond with God. When we moved to Canada from Switzerland, I was pretty relieved - I wasn't happy at that time in my life when we moved back to Switzerland. Toronto brought forth meaningful friendships that I'll have and hold for a lifetime, and the means to pursue what I love doing professionally. It also beats the record of the place we've lived in for the longest time - 7 and a half years.

Melody: It’s a question we get asked often, and it’s a hard one to answer each time. I think like Gabriela said, each place taught us something different and it’s difficult to name one more valuable than the other. I was 7 or 8 when we officially made our first move to Florida, and that was definitely impactful in many ways. I experienced having to make new friends for the first time, having to learn a new language on my own, I started discovering God at that time, too, which changed every part of my life. Now fast-forward to moving to Toronto, and this, too, will be a time I will always cherish. It represents a place where I let go of fears and anxieties, made life-long friendships I will forever be thankful for, wrote my first songs and performed them for the first time, and this is where I made the decision to do what I am doing now. It’s a really special place for me.

 
 

You two spend a lot of time together as both collaborative artists and sisters. How does working with your sibling (vs a friend or acquaintance) affect your creativity and process?
G: I think we both have similar ways of thinking and a similar process of working on creative projects, and having spent all our lives together makes it that much easier to know how to resolve conflicts, to know when we need a break from brainstorming or working on something, and when we need time to ourselves to reboot so we can bring our own separate ideas together and work on those ideas collaboratively. It feels more natural, and genuine. 

M: Yes, like Gabriela said, it just feels natural and genuine. Working together just happened organically. And the fact that we lived through all those changes while growing up together makes the bond that much stronger.

 
 

You just launched a music video for your first single "Boulders". How was the experience of filming in Joshua Tree, and where did your inspiration for the visual aesthetic come from?
The whole experience felt so quick and terrifying and magical. We only had a day and a half to shoot, and no crew - just Kevin Clark [director], ourselves, and Monica Moraru. And shooting on film meant we had to have all our shots planned out with little room to mess up. The desert is a special place to us and it made sense to make our first music video in Joshua Tree, but it was also our first time there at night, which can be a little eerie – and definitely stressful if you're bringing in equipment with only four people. But working with Kevin was great, and he made the whole process really smooth and enjoyable. For the aesthetic, we were inspired by the Californian landscape and films from the 80's, while combining styled visuals with a sci-fi feel.


“Learning to breathe”. Melody, what does that mean to you and in what ways does it relate to your experiences as an artist or person?
M: A big influence in my life while growing up as a teenager was Jon Foreman, and he wrote a song titled “Learning To Breathe”.

“So this is the way that I say I need You
This is the way that I’m learning to breathe…
I’m living again, awake and alive
I’m dying to breathe…”

These are words that stuck with me since the first time I heard them. They’re reminders to me that I am always learning how to be, like each day is a second chance and I’m in this constant process of breaking and healing. This is a belief I bring with me everywhere and in everything I do, which lets me be more patient with myself and the work I create. It has me embracing the imperfections and the “I don’t know”s. Because in the end, I’m just trying to figure out what all of this “being human” means.

 
 

Gaby, tell me more about the phrase you chose. “Take the heart, there is a world growing within you.” What does it mean to you? How does it relate to you and your work?
G: I've always related to the phrase 'Take heart' - meaning don't worry, have courage. 'There is a world growing within you' doesn't mean there's some weird plant growing in your body, but it's always an encouragement to me because I know that no matter where we are in life, there's always something in movement, something changing, if we take our thoughts and circumstances, who we are, and nurture that. We're so brilliantly made - our minds, the way our body works, everything is amazing. And I think at the end of the day, we are amazing beings with amazing potential, no matter who we are or what we do.

On a more serious note, what is your current emoji of choice?

Gabriela:

Melody: Always and forever.


Creative freelancing is by no means easy. What are you most proud of and what are some of your goals?
G:  It's definitely not easy. But I'm happy to be where I am now with it, I've worked with a lot of people over the years - portraits, companies, weddings, etc. I usually go into a shoot not necessarily knowing what to expect, how the light will be, or having to style everything without a stylist or creative director on set. I'm happy that I've been able to pull off pretty much every photo shoot I was nervous about, and not only photograph, but direct and style with props and lighting even when circumstances weren't the greatest. Looking forward, I'd like to have more experience as a creative director for larger projects in photography, film, or music, as well as cinematography. I'm really interested in film, and narrating a story through moving stills. I'd like to eventually steer away from photography professionally, and move towards the film and music industries.

M: So tough. But I’m proud that as a young woman, I’ve been able to accomplish what I have so far. I’m developing a style (that I’m sure will continue to evolve) that I love and connect with, and that others connect with, too. Even if just one person feels something they can’t explain from looking at one of my designs or drawings, then I feel I’ve done my work. For the future, I hope to immerse myself more into creative direction, write and produce an album we’re proud of, and design a fashion collection of some sort. 

 

CREDITS
Published on July 20, 2015
Interview & photography by Marlee Maclean

CHECK OUT SONAGUR
http://www.sonagur.com/
Instagram  |  Facebook  |  Youtube  |  Soundcloud