Sophia Urista and Brian J Gitkin make up the musical group Sophia Urista and the Pimps of Joytime. Two of their songs, “Joy Peace” and “Drowning in Your Love” are featured songs for June on ESPN. The duo of over a decade sat down with ESPN Music to talk about working together and what being featured during Pride Month means.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
ESPN Music: How did this collaboration start?
Brian Gitkin: A mutual friend thought we might create some magic together and lo and behold it was just a beautiful collaboration right from the start.
Sophia Urista: I feel like creative collaborations are very similar to personal relationships — they're matches. They're almost like marriages. They're very intimate. And, it's been one of the longest creative collaborations I've had. And the most rewarding. I'm so glad to see our music played on ESPN. It feels like it's a very full circle thing. It's very cool.
EM: Brian, what about Sophia kind of drew you to wanting to work with her?
Brian: Well, the first time we met we got coffee. And she wanted to make blues, rock, soul, funk — just some really elaborate off the wall description. I said okay. So, I just quickly threw down a little riff, and she just started improvising. She's a great writer. She just has a creative process. So, the way she interpreted the musical groove that I was playing, it was just a good, natural match.
EM: Now for You, Sophia, what about Brian drew you to working with him?
Sophia: I want to do everything because I have a very wide range of interests. And I was very excited. He didn't say a word, not a peep. He just sat there and nodded his head. Then after I was done with my spiel, he goes, “well, you want to go to the studio and write a song?”, and the respect I had just blew off the roof. He's a man of few words, but when he speaks, he always says the right thing. And he always plays from the right place in his soul.
EM: Your songs “Joy Peace” and “Drowning in Your Love” are featured on ESPN all month long. What inspired these tracks?
Brian: We were watching old footage of Woodstock and drew a lot of inspiration from the blues and rock and roll era of Americana music. I think those songs in particular were inspired by the spirit of what was happening at Woodstock. That's inspired me ever since I was a kid. I think I just started playing the groove and Sophia is a great improviser. So, you could just play a song and she'll just start improvising off the top of her head.
Sophia: And the lyrics match the vibe. Usually that makes something for me feel more successful: when what you're hearing and feeling is succinct and similar. Those particular grooves just felt kind of uplifting.
EM: June is Pride Month. What does it mean to represent the LGBTQ+ community in this way?
Brian: Sophia has always been just an unapologetic badass — not looking for any special treatment. She just commands respect. She takes over a room and in a great way. And it's just personable and those human qualities I think are so crucial.
Sophia: Thank you so much, Brian. I think any moment I am celebrated, I appreciate it, I welcome it, and I return it in abundance 100%. That's the reason that people will notice if I put my whole heart into something, then I'm all about them. And I feel that way with my family, my wife, my babies.
EM: What do you think makes your music mesh well with sports?
Sophia: On the technical side, I think the dynamics work well with the energy of what's happening on screen. And then they’re uplifting. I think the energy of the words and the music that we stuffed into this production mirrors the joy and uplifting nature of sports.
Brian: Passion. There's a lot of passion. I feel like we're always trying to surpass our abilities. Professional sports is the highest level of people just pushing human ability to the highest degree and being an artist — I think there's a bit of kinship there.
Sophia: I think that's a good point. When you see people on screen they're just far superior than we'll ever be in that situation. But when I hit the court, I feel like I'm channeling them. And as a kid, whenever I heard music on TV, that was like a goal for me. Having my music played on other media outlets was this unfathomable dream.
EM: What can people look forward to with your music that you're working on right now?
Brian: We have a whole album on the way that we're super excited about. So, we released these two songs and the album is in the works and it should be out worldwide shortly. And then we'll see where life takes us from there.
EM: Lastly for you, Sophia, what does it mean as a new mom with another one on the way that you can show your kids someday your songs on TV?
Sophia: I would say that I want them to be the best version of themselves, whatever that means. They're impacted more by what they see. And so my daily practice, hourly practice, minute by minute practice is to just be the best version of myself I can be. Always show up and do my best. And I think if they see that, they'll do the same and everything will work out for them.