Singing her way from Tokyo to ‘Tonight’

Recording artist and UVic student Sophia Mock, who as a musician goes by her first name only, sits impeccably dressed in matching leather and jeans, legs crossed, quiet in demeanour. She seems shy, a woman clearly more comfortable on a stage than in an interview. It’s not surprising for someone who’s had a microphone in front of her for as long as Sophia has. At age 10, she was performing in crowded Tokyo nightclubs as the youngest member of a Japanese teen pop group, “HappyNs.”

“It was my first time performing, so it gave me that experience,” says Sophia. “We also did dance moves, and I got to learn [some choreography].”

Sophia may have left the stages of Tokyo at age 12, but she took her microphone with her. And then she picked up a pen. At just 18 years old, Sophia has written three singles that have made notable music charts, such as the Mediabase Hot AC charts and the OZ Radio Weekly Top 40 charts. Her second single, titled “Sunglasses,” also gave her the opportunity to perform at Kool FM’s Days of Summer as well as her own private concert, aptly named “An evening with Sophia” — both of which took place in 2012.

In 2010, Sophia’s talent spurred her father, Guy Mock, to create Prodigy Music Group. Mock, 46, previously worked for 14 years at Bloomberg in Japan before moving to Victoria to retire. He started Prodigy to support his daughter’s singing career.

“I thought it was all kind of cutesy, but I picked her up from vocal practice one day and she was singing an Italian opera piece in Italian and it blew me away,” explains the elder Mock. “I realized the only way for her to [be successful] in this impenetrable industry was to start a label.”

In that same year, he signed Steve Kroeger as his daughter’s producer. Kroeger, 19, has known Sophia since high school and has been composing and producing since he was 14.

“By the time I got to know Steve, he had written 200 beats and was selling them online for $25 a piece,” says the elder Mock. “Since Steve was writing all these beats, and they were so creative and original, I signed him so we could add more substance to the label and have more instrumentals for artists to write to.” He acknowledges that it was a good business decision as well.

The third artist on Prodigy’s label, Angelo Marchelletta, who goes by the stage name A-Lo, was signed under what seemed to be much more dubious circumstances. After being caught ripping Kroeger’s music off the Internet, A-Lo sought to make amends.

“He called me and was really apologetic,” says the elder Mock. “But I actually really liked the things he was doing with Steve’s beats, so rather than get angry, I signed him.”

And then it all set in.

“My little hobby to support my daughter’s endeavours turned into a serious music project,” he says.

Although she receives support from her father, it’s Sophia at the wheel with Kroeger and A-Lo working the pedals.

“Sophia’s really good at coming up with melodies,” explains Kroeger. “She has a great idea of how she wants her song to sound.”

“It’s a lot more exciting because I know what’s going on and I’ve improved with songwriting and making music,” says Sophia. “I sing about personal experiences. I write things that people can relate to most of the time.”

Since initial radio play of her and A-Lo’s first single, “Tonight,” Sophia has finished another song — a collaboration with A-Lo and Kroeger — titled “Superhero,” set to come out Jan. 8, 2013.

Sophia will also be teaming up with producer Troy Samson, who has worked with such artists as Kreesha Turner, Hedley and Kelly Rowland, on a song titled “Crazy Stupid Love,” which will come out within the next six months.

“It’s fun doing collaborations,” says Sophia. “It’s not just one idea; it’s three.”

According to her father, Sophia is a triple threat.

“She writes, she makes lyrics and she has a good melody,” says the elder Mock. “Next year is going to be even busier than this one.”

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