Sofie Reed – English

Sofie Reed – an interview

By Johnny Petersen

In the wilderness of Colorado lives a quite eccentric woman of Swedish origin. When she’s not playing with the wolves and cougars, she’s playing blues on the dulcimer and the harmonica. Occasionally she plays an acoustic guitar as well. Doing that she’s frequently touring Europe and the U.S. I met with her in the summer of 2018, just before her concert in the annual Blues Tent festival in Malmö, Sweden. She’s a wild and unpredictable woman who walks her own ways as well as writes her own music.

JP: When and why did you move from Ludvika (in the middle of Sweden) to the U.S.? Was it love, music or the “Big Adventure?”

SR: It was on 8th of September 1987. It was life. My mother turned ill when I was a child, when I was 11. I had some years to think about life until I was 18. Then I was thinking that if I will die soon, I want to live life first. My mother had encouraged me to go to America, so I went there, but it was music that drove me to Minneapolis with Prince and everything, so it was music and the will to live here and now. To live from the heart, I might say.

JP: But you don’t play Prince-music exactly….?

SR: No, but it was the thing that he was very creative and was his own that inspired me. I loved R’n’B and Soul.

JP: And then you met Mr. Reed there?

SR: Yes, but that was ten years later. We were married and an item for seven years, and then, well it was enough of that. “Snuff’s enough” … But it gave me the Green Card when I married.

JP: So, how come you moved into the wilderness then? I guess that’s what it’s called where you live?

SR: Yes, I moved to Colorado because I missed the forest. I needed a change.

JP: So, you missed Dalarna then? (Dalarna is the part of Sweden where she was born).

SR (with a happy voice): Yeees, with forests and such! It was hard in Minnesota because one had to travel far in order to walk in a wood. So, I moved there first because I found a house I could rent. Now I lived there for 18 years and lives in my fifth house. I have stayed because the house where I live is really cheap. I only pay 200$ a month. It’s an unsheltered house from the 17th century.

JP: Doesn’t it get cold in the wintertime?

SR: Oh yeas, last winter it was 0°C inside. It can easily become -20°C outside, so I must burn a lot of fire-wood.

JP: What about your relation to wild animals then? There are some videos on YouTube where it’s obvious that you love wolves.

SR: There is a lot of wild animals around the neighborhood. Wolves, bears and cougars and all kinds. I feel really comfortable with the wild and the free. We all descend from nature, as I see it, and I like this interaction with nature, it’s really inspiring. Just to observe how they are moving is so rewarding!

JP: Is there nothing that frightens you?

SR (with a smile): Yes, money. Money scares the shit out of me!

JP: This feeling for and the interaction with the wild, do you think that’s reflected in your music? Your music can be rather expressive.

SR: Yes, I do write a lot where I use nature as a metaphor for my own emotions. Like, there’s a song called “Owl”, about how smart it is. That returns to this with finding the kernel of yourself and what you do and in that way nature and the animals helps me. One gets closer to the root so to say. This with just being, not the learned and practiced, but just to be as one is. That’s hard in the world we live in today. That’s what I believe is the healthiest. I’m afraid of systems that Tells you and Talks about you.

JP: So why the dulcimer and the harmonica? That’s a unique combo, especially in blues.

SR: It’s a bit special to pick up an instrument when you’re a bit older. The harmonica I have been using a long time when I write songs in order to pick up a rhythm. I have always been writing songs just by bellowing out and stamping my foot on the floor. Dulcimer, well I was looking for an instrument, it was around 2006. I think I first looked for a cigar-box guitar you know, but then I found a dulcimer and remembered, “Hell, that’s what Joni Mitchell used.” Thought I might try it and bought a cheap one to see if that was something I could get together. I chose it because it has just tree strings and is easy to travel with. It soon came to a more expensive and better one.

JP: So, it never came to a cigar box then?

SR: Mm mm, no but I do have a lap-steel and it’s better to alternate the dulcimer with that.

JP: Last question, how did you get in contact with our Malmoe-Copenhagen Blues Connexion?

SR: How? Well I think it was at the Åmål Blues Fest (Sweden’s largest annual Blues festival). Most of my contacts I have from there. Malmö is fantastic, it’s friendly, got a nerve and a belonging.

Sofie Reed has later added her equipment with a custom built resophonic dulcimer. She frequently plays with bassist Marc A. Haynes and occasionally with violinist Anne Harris.

Photo© by Steve Howard