It’s been a busy year for Sonia Rutstein (aka SONiA and/or Disappear Fear to her fans). The lesbian singer-songwriter and artist is about to hit the road this summer to try out some new songs for an upcoming album. PGN caught up with her after she recently completed a spring tour of Europe as a farewell from indie folk group Disappear Fear, featuring her cofounder and sister Cindy Frank.
SONiA said her sister’s departure from the group had been brewing for quite some time.
“Disappear Fear is now absolutely me,” she said. “She’s at a point in her life where she wants to explore other things and make her mark in a different medium than music. She and I started Disappear Fear almost 25 years ago. About 18 years ago, she gave birth to her son, so she’s been off the road for that long, joining me for one to four concerts per year, and every year promising she’d want to come back. I kind of left the door open but then I realized this probably isn’t going to happen. So I just wanted it to be complete for her and to have some closure and we can be sisters and not have the ‘when are you going to tour again’ thing looming over us.”
Whether it has been with Disappear Fear or under her own steam, SONiA’s music reflects her Judaic roots and she’s performed in Israel and in 16 other countries — singing in Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic and English.
And she makes writing songs in different languages sound easy.
“It really depends on the genre of the song,” she said when asked what determines what language in which to write. “There are songs that I wrote in Hebrew that have more of a Middle Eastern feel to them. The ones in Spanish have a Latin feel to them. It really depends on where the song is heading and what inspired the song. Translating into Dutch or German is not very challenging because the syllables are very much the same as English, so it just pops right in very easily. So I’ll probably be doing more of that. But it depends on where the song wants to go. I just play the medium for where it wants to go.”
SONiA is just as global in her charitable pursuits as she is in her music. Her independent record label, Disappear Records, donates 18 percent of every download to the United Nations World Food Program.
She said she became involved with the organization through fans of her work.
“There were a couple of people on the staff there that were fans of my music,” she said. “I ended up performing at an event called Results, the leader of which won a Nobel Peace Prize a few years ago for starting global outreach banking in Third World countries, where there are small banks where women can get loans and develop the economy and make a healthier environment for their children. It seemed like a good thing to do to donate extra money to [the World Food Program].
SONiA performs 8 p.m. June 12 at Tin Angel, 20 S. Second St. For more information or tickets, call 215-928-0770 or visit www.disappearfear.com.