My Early Hour: Sofia Wilde, Sound Generation

“Life is without a doubt a juggle, but I try not to see it as a negative, and instead just see it as another challenge. I think these days it’s a juggle for everyone, kids or no kids,” says Sofia Wilde, founder of Sound Generation…

Sofia Wilde, 38, lives in Isleworth with her husband James, daughter Olivia, seven, and twins Tom and Naomi, aged two.

What’s your home like?
It’s a 1960s two-bed maisonette, which we had to completely renovate when we moved in. It’s a bit of a squeeze, but we have two decent sized gardens – a rarity in London! We’re also surrounded by trees, and set back from any roads, which I love. We hope to move to a bigger space in a couple of years.

What time are you up in the morning?
Anywhere between 5:30-7am.

What wakes you up?
My kids.

How do you feel?
Like I need to hit the coffee pronto.

What do you do first thing?
I get the kids ready, then sort out their breakfast. I try to eat with them, although typically standing up whilst also trying to unload the dishwasher or put a load of washing on. It’s far from relaxing. In a desperate attempt to ease into the day, l’ll put on some laid-back music, but that’s usually sabotaged by my eldest, who’ll put on something manic like,‘Living La Vida Loca’. Quite apt, I suppose.

In three words, describe mornings in your home?
Chaotic, noisy, fun (at a push).

Tea or coffee?
Coffee every time.

How might the rest of your day pan out?
I usually need half an hour just to decompress after the morning madness, so I’ll get ready for the day, and potter a bit. Occasionally I’ll go for a quick run. Then I’ll head out to our office (usually with a coffee in hand) and work until the twins wake up from their nap sometime between 2-3pm. On Thursdays I’m out by 9am to teach a baby and toddler music class I run locally, and which I absolutely love. I set them up after Olivia was born and find them hugely rewarding. It’s also my one opportunity to sing and play a bit of piano and ukulele (albeit only three chords!). After school pick-up, it’s family time. I’ve given up trying to work on the fly, as I can only concentrate on one thing at a time. If I haven’t done everything I set out to do that day work-wise, then I’ll do a bit more once the kids are in bed. I’m usually in bed between 10-11pm.

What’s your workspace like?
We have a studio office in our back garden. As well as being our office, it’s also fully soundproofed and home to a drum kit, piano, decks and a guitar. Occasionally we use it as a rehearsal space too. We recently had a string quartet and singer rehearse in there, which was pretty special to hear out in the garden.

Where are the kids when you’re working?
Our eldest is in school, and our incredible nanny looks after the twins for sixteen hours per week, split over four mornings.

Tell us about your business: when did you launch, and how/why did it come about?
We’re a music agency that provides musicians, bands and DJ’s for weddings and events, and also for regular music nights at London venues. We’re both musicians ourselves; I trained as a singer, and James is a drummer. We met whilst studying, and were in a band together. After years of holding down regular jobs, whilst also trying to maintain careers as musicians, we decided we needed more stability. I had started booking singers at a venue I performed at regularly, and really enjoyed it. I had never felt comfortable promoting myself, but I felt passionate about promoting the acts I was booking and decided it was something I really wanted to do more of. At that time, the music agencies dominating the market were very dated, and we felt that we could offer something fresh, young, and more quality-driven, and so we launched Sound Generation.

What’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
For me, it’s the lack of feedback I get – be it positive or negative. I think a mentor would be the solution for this – having someone impartial to talk to would be really helpful, and I think would help with any motivational dips.

What makes it all worthwhile?
The freedom I have to choose how my day/week looks. I never dread going to work, something I try not to take for granted.

Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others; do you enjoy, for instance, the creative side but not the accounts?
My mum has been our bookkeeper since the birth of my eldest, as I just couldn’t face SAGE any longer! She is amazing, and far more thorough than I ever was. James oversees all the bookings and logistics for now, whilst I’m finding my feet again after a year off on maternity leave. Currently, I’m focusing on branding and marketing, as well as keeping a closer eye on the company finances. I’m looking forward to getting more involved with the nuts and bolts of the business again, but also not in any hurry whilst the children are still young.

Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
I need a bit of both. I’d say once every couple of weeks I go out to a café to get a change of scenery. I find when I’m working in a café I can almost sense a response to any ideas forming in my head, just by being in a room with other people. It’s definitely a different dynamic from being at home. But I also relish the quiet I get from working alone, especially given how noisy and chaotic family life is at the moment.

What’s the secret to career success?
Doing something you love is definitely key, putting in the hours, having a clear idea of what success means for you, and forming good relationships with the people you work with and/or your clients. I also believe there’s a bit of luck involved. We’ve been so fortunate to have lots of support and advice from friends and family (my dad has run three businesses to date), and also from the acts that we work with. I think that strong support network really has enabled us to build our business to the position it is in now. I consider myself a hard worker, but also very lucky.

Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing parenting/relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
Yes, it is without a doubt a juggle, but I try not to see it as a negative, and instead just see it as another challenge. I think these days it’s a juggle for everyone, kids or no kids.

Describe an ideal weekend?
A run along the river to Richmond, time-out catching up with a friend (N.B. without the kids), time spent outdoors with the family, a nap (I can dream, right?!) and a film with James in the evening. Oh, and a G&T and chocolate would definitely feature at some point!

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Ragdale Hall (if you know, you know!)

Here’s a link to ‘My Early Hour’ playlist, it’s a selection of music I listen to in the morning  (don’t worry, I’ve not included Ricky Martin).