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Spring Sing 2023: Sophia Bacino to showcase specificity in songwriting with tale of self-discovery

Fourth-year ethnomusicology student Sophia Bacino sits on a bed while planning her guitar. Bacino will return to the Spring Sing stage on Friday. (Ella Greenberg Winnick/Daily Bruin)

By Avery Poznanski

May 19, 2023 12:55 a.m.

This post was updated May 19 at 11:29 a.m.

Sophia Bacino & Friends are back to empower lost hearts and rock out in equal measure.

Fourth-year ethnomusicology student Sophia Bacino will be performing with the same lineup from Spring Sing 2022, she said. But this year’s original song, entitled “Regina and the Lion,” will be more sonically intense and rock-inspired than last year’s performance of “My Old Self Could Love You,” she added. Inspired by a friend’s journey with navigating generational trauma, “Regina and the Lion” tells a story of self-discovery through lyrics that resemble a fairy tale, Bacino said. With the specificity of her writing, Bacino hopes to help listeners feel collectively empowered and give people a dialogue for confusing feelings, she said.

“I can use the most specific instance or specific descriptive language about something, … and it resonates with so many people,” Bacino said. “If I can put it into a phrase, or I can encapsulate it in a moment that’s really specific, … it’s really lovely to remember how similar we all are.”

Bacino plans to embody the intensity of “Regina and the Lion” with a rock arrangement but also with visual accents onstage, she said. Her cowboy boots and a dark, flowy outfit will make an appearance, Bacino said, but each member of the group will also incorporate a red element to their outfit to capture the atmosphere she envisions for the song.

“I’ve always associated certain notes with colors. … (This song) is just deep and intense red,” Bacino said. “It’s been fun to think about, ‘What does my music look like? … These feelings I make people feel, what does that look like?’ … I love the visual aspect of it all so much.”

Bacino looks to the right as a rainbow reflects on her face. The singer-songwriter will perform her song titled "Regina and the Lion" when she competes at this year&squot;s Spring Sing. (Ella Greenberg Winnick/Daily Bruin)
Bacino looks to the right as a rainbow reflects on her face. The singer-songwriter will perform her song titled “Regina and the Lion” when she competes at this year’s Spring Sing. (Ella Greenberg Winnick/Daily Bruin)

[Related: Alumna singer-songwriter transcends genre to convey lived experience]

Bacino has always loved the idea of playing music in a collective but mostly played solo by accompanying herself with guitar, piano and ukulele until 2022, she said. Through jamming with friends and students in the UCLA music and arts scene, Bacino said she quickly found a new joy in expanding her sound and collaborating with a group. Playing with a band is not only the epitome of what music is, Bacino said, but provides moments of unspoken connection, which adds to the quality of performance onstage.

Alumnus and bassist Oliver van Moon said they have appreciated the opportunity to interact with so many talented musicians over the Spring Sing process. The different styles and musical backgrounds of the band’s members create an exciting mix onstage, van Moon said. Pulling inspiration from rock and R&B bassists, van Moon said his approach to “Regina and the Lion” is to play with feel and tasteful simplicity. Van Moon is also looking forward to how the vulnerability of Bacino’s lyricism will resonate with this year’s audience, they said.

“I am incredibly inspired by Sophia’s songwriting and her willingness to put herself out there,” van Moon said. “I think people really connect with that.”

Also returning to the Spring Sing stage, alumnus Lola Rice said she became part of the band in preparation for the Spring Sing 2022 performance. As the band’s guitarist, Rice said she appreciates Bacino’s distinctive songwriting style and is especially excited for the audience to hear the story of “Regina and the Lion.” Reflecting on last year’s Spring Sing performance, Rice said the experience of connecting with the group onstage made her even more excited for this year’s act.

As an ethnomusicology student, Bacino said the environment and opportunities at UCLA have helped shape and uplift her music career. As a writer, Bacino said she’s continually inspired by the musical concepts and cultures she learns in courses and from her peers and feels those influences will echo through her performance of “Regina and the Lion.” Bacino said she hopes the song’s honesty and dynamic sound will appeal to audience members of all ages, whether they connect to the lyrics or simply enjoy swaying to the beat.

Bacino rests her head in her hand while playing the guitar. Bacino said she hopes her music can empower those who may feel lost. (Ella Greenberg Winnick/Daily Bruin)
Bacino rests her head in her hand while playing the guitar. Bacino said she hopes her music can empower those who may feel lost. (Ella Greenberg Winnick/Daily Bruin)

[Related: Spring Sing 2022: Painted Ladies redefines folk music tropes with sultry lyrics]

Since Spring Sing last year, Bacino has been writing and releasing music, she said, including a recent EP entitled, “The Kitchen Drawer EP.” Looking forward, Bacino said she hopes to focus her career on writing music while still working on independent projects. At this year’s Spring Sing, Bacino said she hopes to show off the variety in her writing and reach out to anyone who feels placeless or disempowered. The driving message of this year’s performance is drawn from a line from her song, “Kitchen Drawer,” Bacino said, which describes a metaphorical space in which lost things can be found.

“I started to think of my music as a place where all the lost things are meant for,” Bacino said. “I want to create space for the muddy feelings and unsent messages and the half-broken hearts. People who … don’t have the language to articulate how they feel. I do that for you, so that you don’t have to feel so lost.”

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Avery Poznanski
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