“Is this it?” “Yeah, I think we go up here,” is overheard by groups of twos and threes as they step into an old school brick loading station, the Terminal Warehouse, in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood—once used for trains carrying freight, now it’s a cavernous converted space for creative agencies. A 6-floor elevator ride up deposits them into a trendy graffiti- and art-decked out open office space, with a live band rocking out in the center, surrounded by mesmerized people strewn over couches and blankets. So begins a Sofar Sounds concert…
Launched in London in 2010 and now across 379 cities worldwide, Sofar Sounds hosts intimate shows with talented up-and-coming artists set in super unique urban spaces (like that tricked out warehouse, a dazzling office space, or museums). Concert guests are selected at random and the location is revealed only 24-hours in advance. Artists are hyper curated and vetted for by the Sofar Sounds team. They also keep the crowd size small—50-150 guests max—to create an ultra engaging artist-to-audience experience.
We sat down with Grace Pozniak, Assistant Director at Sofar Sounds New York City, to chat about all about Sofar Sounds
Can you tell us how Sofar Sounds works?
We curate a lineup of 3 to 4 different artists that will bring a unique style of music to the session. Guests are selected at random and asked to follow the Sofar ethos by arriving on time, staying for all the performances and giving their full attention to the artists.
What is your role at Sofar Sounds?
I manage all our venue and host relationships, and am responsible for securing venues for all our shows. We host in many different types of spaces including living rooms, retail shops, rooftops, places of worship, offices other creative spaces, and boutique hotels—such as Arlo!
What inspired Sofar Sounds? How did it start?
Our founders were tired of going to see live music in venues where the audience were unengaged, preoccupied with the bar or speaking over the music, so they hosted the first Sofar sessions in their apartment. It was such a special way to experience live music. They continued hosting, and before they knew it, friends all over the world asked to replicate the format in their cities.
What makes Sofar a better musical experience for the attendee?
It’s the only place where the audience is consistently engaged, as opposed to talking over the music, too busy drinking at the bar or leaving in the middle of a song.
Sofar definitely provides an improved experience for the audience; what are the benefits for the artists?
A promotion-free, packed room of music lovers who are eager to discover new artists!
What is a cool “success story” from an artist featured at a Sofar Sounds event?
YEBBA is a local artist who, after performing for Sofar NYC garnered a lot of attention over her Sofar video, including from big name artists like Ed Sheeran.
Are you able to share some really cool spaces Sofar concerts have been in?
United Palace in Washington Heights, The Waterfront Museum in Red Hook, Park Slope Brooklyn Public Library and Arlo Hotels!
What are the plans for the future? Will Sofar branch out to non-music related events? Other cities?
We are very focused on perfecting what we currently do with musicians, but do see our sessions as intimate experiences that have the potential to tap into different types of events. We already exist in over 350 cities around the world, but are always open to sharing our sessions with more people in new cities.
Check out our Sofar Sounds Spotify playlist we made for upcoming bands playing at the Arlo Hotel.
Photos by Christian Koerwer & Tucker Mitchell