Featured Extended Family Member: Sophie Huet

All of us in The Family Crest are lucky to work with so many talented musicians. In light of that, we’ve decided to start featuring our wonderful Extended Family members every other week, so that you can get to know them as well as we have. First up is clarinetist Sophie Huet. To learn more about Sophie’s new music collective, Wild Rumpus, her expert insider advice on where to go in Paris, and what’s playing on her iPod, read on!

TFC: What is your earliest musical memory?
SH: When my sister and I were little, we would put on Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and dance to it in the living room. When I say dance, I really mean we had a choreographed depiction of the story. We each had our assigned characters and would act out the story with the music.

TFC: When did you start playing music and why did you choose to play the clarinet?
SH: I started playing the piano when I was around 5 or 6. When I was starting 5th grade, I joined the after-school band program and had to pick an instrument. I didn’t want to play a brass instrument because that was for boys, and I didn’t want to play the flute because all the girls played that, so the clarinet was a good middle ground! And that was that.

TFC: What is your proudest musical moment?
SH: That’s tough- there are a lot to choose from! I think one of my favorites is still playing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time at the Cafe Revolution in the Mission. The venue is really casual- you’re playing in a bar- and generally fairly noisy. That we got everyone to shut up and listen was really incredible; there were points in that piece where you could have heard a pin drop. The piece itself is also simply incredible and really powerful, and having the opportunity to perform it with the great musicians I did was an amazing experience.

TFC: How did you get involved with The Family Crest?
SH: I met Liam and John on my birthday, two years ago. I was friends with Owen and Evan and others on the record through the Conservatory, and we all ended up at this bar on my birthday, just hanging out. I met Liam, and at one point he asked me, oh what do you play? And when I said the clarinet, he got super excited and told me, We’ve been looking for a clarinetist to record on our album! You want to play with us? I said sure, and that was that!

TFC: What kind of music are you listening to right now?
SH: Right now, I’m wading through a ton of new music composers. I’m in a new music group, Wild Rumpus, and part of what we’re doing is picking a couple young and emerging composers to commission for our spring concert. We had an open call for composers to submit works, and we ended up with 213 submissions! Now, of course, we have to sort through all of them to find a few we really like. It’s been really really interesting, just to hear the huge variety of music that people are writing nowadays. Other than that, I listen to a lot of different kinds of music- anything that really grabs me.

TFC: If you had to pick one artist to recommend that everyone listen to, who would it be?
SH: You mean other than The Family Crest? At this moment, it would probably be this great alt-bluegrass group, Crooked Still. Super fun group, with banjo, cello, bass, fiddle, and voice. I wish I could sing like the lead singer. They have a great dynamic and this infectious, toe-tapping, get-up-and-dance music that’s irresistible.

TFC: Is there anything about you that people are surprised to find out about?
SH: People are generally surprised to find out that I speak French fluently and have since childhood. My father’s French and I have a lot of family over there. I also lived in Paris for a year after finishing graduate school.

TFC: Since you lived in Paris for a while, we have to ask: If you were to go back and could only visit one place (a restaurant, museum, etc) where would you go and why?
SH: Only one place? That’s really hard! I’d go to the bakery by my apartment, just for these ridiculously intense chocolate cake things, or retrace the walks I took from my apartment to the Seine and back, or revisit the American Library in Paris. However, if I really had to pick only one, I’d probably go back to this amazing Laotian restaurant, Lao Lane Xang 2, in the 13th Arondissement (I’d cheat and walk there, so I could see more). I befriended the owner while I was there, and every time my friends and I would go, we’d end up with free sake and great tips on other restaurants to eat at. And the food is simply amazing.

TFC: Do you have any upcoming shows?
SH: My next show, which I am super excited about, is Wild Rumpus‘s first concert on December 10 at the ODC in San Francisco. This group, which is a new music composer collective, has commissioned 4 young and emerging composers to write for us, as well as 3 other pieces that have previously been performed. There’s a good amount of variety on the program, and all the pieces are really awesome. If you’re interested in new music, you really should come!

TFC: If you were a color, what color would you be?
SH: I think I’d be some sort of dark lavender purple color. Or something in the vicinity of wine-red.

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