Italy,Jazz,London,Lyricist,Music,Singer Songwriter,Songwriter,UK,Vocals

In The Spotlight – Sammy Stein Talks To Germana Stella La Sorsa

Italian singer Germana Stella La Sorsa has been a fixture of the London jazz scene since 2017. She released her debut album ‘Vapour’ in 2021 on 33 Jazz Records and her second album ‘Primary Colours’ is out now on the same label. singing both privately and at Morley College (London

Platinum Mind decided the spotlight should shine on this versatile musician, so Sammy Stein caught up with her.  

SS- Sammy Stein

GLS- Germana Stella La Sorsa

SS: Tell us briefly about your journey in music until now

GLS: Well, I’m Italian so my journey started there. My dad plays guitar, so I’ve always been around music and started playing in bands when I was a child. I went on to study singing and jazz eventually at Conservatoire in Bari, Puglia before moving to London in 2017. Since then I’ve released two albums of my music and been involved in various projects. I’ve played venues such as Ronnie Scott’s and The Vortex in London but also international festivals. My latest project has been my second studio album ‘Primary Colours’, which came out on the 26th of January 2024.

SS: What inspired ‘Primary Colours’ and how did you find the musicians you worked with?

GLS: As I’ve only just released ‘Primary Colours’ I wouldn’t say that I’ll release anything new in the immediate future. However, I already have in mind what I want to record next and with whom. It’s a work in progress and at the moment I’m just setting up dates and working on some arrangements.

I can get inspired by so many things and in the most unexpected moments: my first album ‘Vapour’ for example – besides being a sort of introduction for the audience about who I am and my musical background – is exactly about how inspiration can get you all of a sudden.

I can say that life in the last few years – especially seeing how mine has changed since I moved to the UK from Italy – inspired me to write the music for my latest release. 

I had an immediate artistic chemistry with all the musicians that I’ve recorded my music with so far. I’ve always been quite self-conscious about writing my music but after having met them and starting to play with them in jam sessions and gigs, I knew that they were the right people with whom to share something important such as recording original music.

SS: How is it promoting your music? Do you target specific audiences, or put it out and hope for the best?

GLS: I think that I’ve never worked just releasing and hoping for the best. I’m a very proactive person and I firmly believe that “each man is the architect of his own fortune”. I believe in planning properly – if possible with a team of people to work with in synergy – but with flexibility to achieve specific results. 

Having said that, I feel that the more time passes, the harder promotion is becoming. It can be very challenging as I think that social media platforms are one of the main ways for artists to promote themselves at the moment, but they can be quite dangerous to get trapped in if you’re not careful.

SS: How have you found a label, agent, and other people to represent you?

GLS: I already knew about 33 Jazz Records so when I realised that it was the best label to release with, I was introduced to them by another musician. I currently don’t have an agent, but I’ve been working with Raestar Ventures for some of my promo.

SS: As a female artist? Do you feel there is any prejudice or expectations of women that male performers do not have or do you feel the field is even now?

GLS: I don’t think that the music business is entirely even but at the same time some progress has been made. For example, I feel that the stereotype of female performers being only singers (who don’t know that much about music, most of the time) has almost completely disappeared thanks to the fact that there are plenty of incredible women musicians! Having said that, there are still some issues around being a female artist. I’ve recently become a mother and – as much as I’ve lived my pregnancy overall in a relaxed way, continuing performing and working on my release – I know from friends that this can be (and has been) a proper obstacle. I guess that here the prejudice is that you can’t be a mother and a performer at the same time (which is not true!) and the expectation is that you exclusively stay home to take care of the baby 24/7. I hope that this will change soon, and I intend to speak up about this. Someone should!

SS:  If you were to advise a young performer just starting out, are there any lessons you might pass on?

GLS: Since we live in a society that could easily make us compare ourselves to others – through social media or false myths and stereotypes – I’d encourage them not to compare their journey with anyone else’s. It’s very easy to get discouraged looking at that musician who seems to be ‘better than us’, has more gigs than us, and is more popular, but online life is not always reality, and we also can’t know other’s paths. You can’t tell how hard someone might have been working to reach a certain status so just do your own thing, set goals, pursue them and, most of all, love what you do.

SS: Looking ahead – what would you like to have achieved in say, five or ten years’ time music-wise?

GLS: I definitely want to record more and more music but, most of all, I’d like to also perform outside the UK. It’s been happening more since my first release – as I’ve performed again in Italy (with some colleagues from the UK as well) but also internationally, most recently playing at the Al Bustan International Festival in Lebanon (with Faris Ishaq and the Kham Quartet) – and I intend to work more on becoming ‘international’.

SS: What would you say are the hardest areas of being a musician?

GLS: Nowadays, I’d say that self-promotion is a tough one most of all in this ‘algorithm era’, and sometimes it even impacts your mental health. I think we all feel this pressure of having to be productive and prove it while I think having time off or just having a quiet period to write and produce new music is fundamental.

Getting gigs – therefore making money exclusively with performances – is hard too, mostly if you don’t have big numbers on social media or someone that represents you. 

SS: Is it difficult to fit music in with other aspects of your life?

GLS: I’m lucky to be married to a musician (double bass player and composer Joe Boyle) so the music fits a lot of aspects of our life together. Therefore he also understands and respects the time and space that I need to take care of my music stuff. Since we had our son last November, some things have become slightly more challenging rather than difficult, but I’ve accepted the challenge and – as I said – it’s not impossible to fit music with motherhood. On the contrary, it’s a daily inspiration.

SS: Have you performed outside of the UK and if so, have you found things different?

GLS: As mentioned, I’ve most recently performed in Italy (my country) – and also in my hometown Taranto – and Lebanon. Things are different when you go abroad. These two countries are famed for their hospitality so of course I’ve been treated like family. I think playing in any foreign country is going to feel different in a way, just because of the different cultures but once you’re on stage nothing feels different – there’s just you, your band, and the audience. 

SS: Have you found the impact of streaming has had any impact?

GLS: Having started my career after streaming has become the established norm, I can’t really say anything about my own experiences. I do, however, think that artists should be paid fairly and unfortunately, streaming platforms don’t seem to be very good at this. The way people listen to music has changed too though. People tend not to listen to albums and instead let algorithms choose what they will listen to next so, once again, we musicians need to promote ourselves based on an unknown set of computer calculations. It’s very difficult.

You can find out more by checking out Germana’s site

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