Q&A with Danish Sensation, Sonny Fredie Pedersen – Where He Talks Fred Astaire, Dancing With The Stars And More!
Posted On 19 Aug 2014
Tag: A Change Of Heart, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Americas Got Talent, Artist Interview, Better With The Lights Off, Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera, Copenhagen, Dancing With The Stars, Danish, Denmark, Gloria Estefan, INTERNATIONAL DANCE ACADEMY, Jim Belushi, Kathy Najimy, Kenny Ortega, Kylie Minoque, MUSExpo, NCredible Entertainment, Nick Cannon, Nicki Minaj, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul, Sonny Fredie Pedersen, Taylor Swift, Virginia Madsen
Music & performing arts has always been the main ingredient in SONNYs life and has always been the one and only way of expression. Since childhood SONNY has trained singing, acting and dancing and developed the unique set of skills that has gained him International recognition. With his success in showbiz since childhood SONNY has become a national phenomena in Denmark and has performed for millions of people across the globe through live shows and television.
Since moving to Los Angeles, SONNY has been hard at work on some of Hollywoods biggest productions with his singing, dancing and creative skills and has gained a great reputation on-stage as well as “behind the scenes” working with major artist’s such as Christina Aguilera, Paula Abdul, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Kylie Minoque, Nicole Scherzinger, Nick Cannon etc. Working with Nick Cannon and his “NCredible Entertainment” gave SONNY the chance to sing as an official replacement for Chris Brown performing his song “Better With The Lights Off” on the U.S. show “Americas Got Talent”. Viewers have also been able to follow SONNY weekly, as part of the cast and creative department on the All Star Season of the #1 Television show in the U.S. “Dancing With The Stars“. In early 2013 SONNY was a part of the Annual MuseXpo in Los Angeles as a featured artist of the Expo. In 2014 he was hired by Hollywood Director Kenny Ortega as head choreographer on his new Feature Film “A Change Of Heart” Starring Jim Belushi, Gloria Estefan, Kathy Najimy, Virginia Madsen amongst others.
As an entrepreneur SONNY is the owner of the oldest Performing Arts studio in Denmark. He is the 3rd generation of this 80 year old establishment. In 2008 he launched Europe’s first INTERNATIONAL DANCE ACADEMY. Gathering European talents to come study at his academy in Copenhagen and later to take them abroad for 3 months to Hollywood in the U.S. to study with SONNYs extensive network of industry leading professionals.
With SONNY, everything you see is always straight from the heart. From his music, his choreography to the music videos. He writes, directs, conceptualizes and choreographs. You will find that SONNY is truly one of the most humble persons you will encounter and is dedicated to always keep educating himself and strive to push and share the art of entertaining.
Hi Sonny! Where does this interview find you today? What’s on the agenda for today besides this interviews?
It finds me in a non-glamorous moment but an honest one nonetheless. I’m on the living room floor organizing piles of documents and bills! Unfortunately a showbiz career doesn’t come cheap.
Well, I just returned home to Los Angeles after a long trip that took me movie shooting in Miami with Director Kenny Ortega and then further on to Denmark where I composed and performed for the Worlds biggest music show EUROVISION. So now I’m finally back in LA catching up with practicalities of life after having been gone for months.
I know you’ve been in show business since childhood singing, acting, and dancing very early on, but who or what was it that really ignited the flame for you? Who was your inspiration? Do you remember any specific moment when you were like, “Ah, yes, THIS is what I want to do!” Who are some of your biggest musical influences past and present?
When I reached the age when you’re old enough to really make those observations, I think I was already deep into it. Being the 3rd generation of a showbiz family I have to say I really never had that classic moment of realizing “THIS is what I wanna do for the rest of my life”. With that being said there has never been any doubt in my mind that this was what made me thrive. It just sorta always been a natural and given thing. Perhaps my realizations of “THIS is what I wanna do” comes to me more as wonderful reminders whenever I deliver a project and experience the positivity it feeds into others and how it get’s a life on it’s own. That is when I truly feel the connection to “why I do what I do”. My fuel in life comes from creating, performing and entertaining people. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You were part of the cast and also creative department on the All Star Season of the #1 Television show in the U.S. “Dancing With The Stars” What was that experience like? Any fun moments from the show you can share with our readers?
Being on the #1 Television show in the U.S. is a blessing. Having the ability to not only perform live for millions but also to create your own pieces of work that goes in front of these millions is truly a blessing and a rush.The most nerve wrecking moment on the show for me was when I was asked to choreograph Michael Jackson’s BAD anniversary performance. I recall we only got a total of 8 hours to put the piece together and rehearse but after the show I was told the MJ estate were excited with the performance, so I guess we pulled it off at the end!
You wear many hats these days, (and I’m not talking just fedoras…) Some of our readers may not know, but you are an entrepreneur and owner of Denmarks largest and oldest performing arts studio with a 75 year old history. You are the third generation to be involved in the family business too! That’s pretty special. In 2008 you launched Europe’s first international performance academy, gathering European talents to come study at your academy in Copenhagen/Denmark and taking them abroad for 3 months to Hollywood in the U.S. to study with industry leading teachers. How has that experience been?
You know, I recently found photographs from the 1930’s of my grandparents performing together in tailcoat, top hat and everything! It really reminded me of my heritage and the mere fact that I’m able to carry on the family tradition in Hollywood is mind blowing to me. It is not something I take for granted.The Performance Academy I founded in 2008 really sprung out of the idea of wanting to pass along knowledge. You can say I’ve had a pretty old school and disciplinary upbringing in terms of learning the performing arts and I see this as something that is getting lost in my generation unfortunately. So even now in my early years I want to be part of educating that next generation and give them the tools I was fortunate enough to have had passed down to me. I have been given so many opportunities in life so far and why not share them with others? That’s how I see it!
You are originally from Denmark and balance your time between there and living in Los Angles. Do you have a preference? What do you enjoy most about each place?
I’m a contemporary gypsy haha, I go where the opportunities arise and for me that place is Los Angeles. You have to find that location where people have a drive and are open to even the craziest ideas. I believe that is what propels us and keeps us progressive and innovative. That being said I love Denmark.
“I’m Danish to the core and nothing can change that, but leaving for LA has been the most exhilarating experience in my life. You see, my home country is extremely humble which is something you can maybe say Hollywood is lacking, but in all reality most of that humbleness in Denmark comes from a deep anchored notion of “Don’t think you’re special, You’re not as good as you think you are and we are all equal” So the humbleness portrayed by Danish people, often comes out of fear of being too great at something, it’s not very uplifting and productive! As we all know, the U.S. is in a lot of ways the complete opposite of that and even though Hollywood certainly has its drawbacks too. I thrive here and feel I have the best of both worlds. The day when I planted my feet solid in LA was inevitable!”
You have worked with many beautiful and talented women including, Christina Aguilera, Paula Abdul, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Kylie Minoque, and Nicole Scherzinger just to name a few. Any fun and memorable stories you can share from your time working with them?
A memorable moment that I can remember was, late one night I was called over to Paula Abdul’s house to help workshop for a performance of hers. We moved and grooved in the middle of the night trying to make her ideas and vision come to life. All the while she was sitting having her french manicure done the entire time…haha. She would jump up every once in a while to dance and vibe and then sit back down to dry her nails off. Those types of personal, casual moments with greats, is something that sticks and inspires.
Okay, time for a fun one! If you could work with ANY musician, actor or artist, living or dead who would it be and why? And….if you could spend the day with them, where would you go and what would you do?
Oh, where to start?! As much as I wanna say the King Of Pop I really do have to go further back, all the way back to the great Fred Astaire. He’s always been an embodiment of the type of entertainer I strive to be. Singer, actor, dancer,choreographer, director.
If I could spend an entire day with Fred, I would literally just sit and listen to his story. What stressed him, what made him nervous, upset, was he ever content with his accomplishments or are we all just chasing something that that is elusive? Essential stuff like that. I think many artists have an idea of when they reach a certain level of success, their troubles starts to diminish. My notion is that it multiples tenfold and that basic chase we artists crave for and struggle with, never ends. We’re in it for the long haul.
What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes? Do you try to tailor your music to “fit in” with contemporary artists that are now getting played at radio?
When I worked on my album INTERNATIONAL the main goal was really to blend today’s sounds with vintage grooves, beautiful chord progressions and soulful harmonies. Build the sound on foundations laid down by the greats and then make it progressive and accessible for the young. It’s our responsibility as artists to keep this alive. Be innovative by looking to the past, I believe that is very powerful. This is my mission.
In terms of tailoring music to “fit in” then I suppose as a rule of thumb it’s always good to play to the audience you’re trying to reach. But, I think the real question is, do you wanna have mere FAME & FORTUNE or make MUSIC? If fame is all you’re searching for there is certainly ways to achieve that without putting too much effort into the music itself. The trade off is that most likely your career won’t receive that longevity, which at the end of the day comes from being devoted to the process of MUSIC and not just trying to “fit in”.
How are you using social media to connect with your fans? Are there any new social media sites or strategies that you’ve found to be effective?
Social media has given artists an amazing channel to manage themselves and how they wanna be perceived, whereas not too many years ago, we were often at the mercy of journalists and how they would choose to spin a story and portray the artist. It’s like a love/hate relationship, cause to keep up with all the changing trends and posting is a full-time job in itself…haha. Posting meaningful stuff is really the way to go and you gotta have that healthy mix of not just glamour n’ flash, but also the “REAL” you. Which for me means being my extremely goofy self! If we can’t laugh at ourselves, we’ve got nothing, and people love laughing with me or maybe they are laughing at me? Hmmm….I’m not really sure about that one!
Are there any changes you would like to see happen in the music and radio industry? What is your take on the music that gets the most airplay today?
There are tons of stuff we could discuss, BUT all we can do is to really focus on making good music right? And, I have to say its amazing to see how the funk & soul is sneaking its way back into pop music making the airwaves a tiny less generic. I love it! If there’s any change I’d really like to see happen, then it’s that some artists take more responsibility for their music and messages. It’s like everyone forget and neglects the fact that we as artists have a responsibility to the young kids out there listening, especially in this day of age where our music is more accessible than ever. That, I would actually love to see happen!
Do you have a favorite radio station here in the States?
I will be switching station at every second intersection because I always wanna listen to all genres at once. My 88.1 “KJazz” and 94.7 “The Wave” always keep me tuned in with the greats. When that get’s a bit heavy, I crank on POWER 106 and get my “Nae Nae” on all “Turnt Up”
What’s on tap for you next, Fredie?
Right now, I’m looking through movie footage with Director Kenny Ortega that we shot in Miami earlier this year for a new feature film called “A Change Of Heart”, for which Mr. Ortega brought me on as Choreographer. Next up, people can expect to hear new music and see videos coming really soon. Right now, I just wanna create and spread good vibes!
To keep up with Sonny Fredie Pedersen, visit his website here