Lucas Palmans

4 Feb
Music

Sofía Valdés: “I Wish Girls from Latin America Could See That There’s a Way to Make It”

Who’s your favorite artist from Panama? Can’t think of anyone? Time to change that! Sofía Valdés is one to watch this year. The 20-year-old singer has only released three singles and is now set to release her debut EP Ventura this Friday. Expect melancholic sounds, melody-driven music, and a little touch of magic. We had a Zoom call with Sofía, who was staying in Hawaii, about her career, music, and life.

How is the situation in Hawaii?

There are like no cases here. It’s corona free, which is so weird to be in. I was in Panama, and things there are not as good as here. It’s just rough, especially cause we’re a third-world country, so our hospitals don’t work well. It’s crazy. When I came here, they opened the airports and now there are twenty cases. Now they closed them again, but a month or two ago, there were no cases.

You live in a corona-free world, wow!

It’s really weird, but I’m really happy to be able to have this experience. I was going crazy back home. I live in a small apartment with my mom, my sister, my dog, and my cat and we couldn’t go for walks. That was really difficult.

You just started your career, but it blew up really fast. Did you ever expect that it would go this fast?

No! I don’t see myself as someone that blew up. I did think I got super lucky with my debut single. We put the song out, not expecting anything of it. I liked it, my manager liked it — it’s kind of a weird song, and we didn’t expect people to dig it that much. It did it really well.

Especially in a year like 2020. Isn’t that strange?

Yeah, a lot has happened. It’s been really bad and hurtful for everyone, but 2020 was a year that everything I wished for happened. So, in a way, it was kinda balanced out.

You released some music in the middle of a pandemic. Did you hesitate to release it?

I don’t like performing that much, but I know that’s something I have to do. That’s where the money is, so I had to release it. For me putting out my song and see things grow and happen without me having to perform was really calming. It made the process slower, it just made things feel easier. It was more organized, not all at once because then I would go crazy. I like the way it went.

So maybe the virus was something positive for you as an artist?

Maybe … I hate saying that because so many people have been affected by it. In my family, my music was something very positive that was happening, and we were very happy about it.

How is it to become an artist in Panama?

Everyone is so supportive but like CRAZY. I thought that I had to leave Panama because people were not going to appreciate my music. That I needed to go somewhere where people would help me with the sound etc. I put out the first single, and everybody in Panama was reposting it and doing covers. It made me feel welcome in a way. Every day I got a bunch of DMs from people saying they were listening to my music.

You’re already a big star in Panama then?

I don’t know! (laughs) I haven’t been there to see how people feel about it. We’ll see, I’m back soon. I was in the supermarket here in Hawaii, and my song started playing. That was already really cool.

Aren’t you afraid to release more music and becoming more popular? Because you said you don’t like performing. That’s something you’ll have to do one day.

I can easily run away from the things that I’m scared of, but I don’t want to be scared of it my entire life. I see performances, and I always think, “Wow! That’s something I want to do!” but it’s really scary for me somehow. In a way, I’m scared to become popular. If it was like Billie Eilish, I would be terrified. Now I’m just excited for people to feel connected with my songs and tell my story with my music.

Is it your main purpose to connect with people?

Everyone says that. That’s really what I want. I want to make songs that people can listen to while they’re driving. The fact that I’m from Panama is kinda special for me because I grew up without looking up to someone from Panama or that was making the music I wanted to make. I don’t think that my journey was easy. There were a lot of sacrifices and moments I thought, “How is this ever going to happen?”. I wish girls from Latin America could see that there’s a way to make it.

So you’re living your dreams?

In a way. It doesn’t feel like it, but when I think about it … yeah. I’m very dramatic, but when I write down all the things I have and compare them with all the things I’ve wanted, I see that a lot of it has been happening. It’s hard to comprehend sometimes because reality is so different than a dream.

Is the artist’s life different than you expected?

Hmmm, not at all. It’s how I thought it was. I know what it is in a pandemic! Right after I was getting signed, I was doing so much, and I was so tired. Exhausted. I thought, “Sofía, you haven’t even started!” but I was already braindead. I didn’t get how all the other artists did it, and I remember being very scared.

What’s the main vision of your music? The singles you’ve released sounded a bit different. Are you still finding your way?

Little Did I Know” is the type of music I write the most. “Handful of Water” is a song like I write in the sessions. It’s always kinda melancholic-dreamy sounding. Very melody-driven. I do feel like I know what my sound is. The EP is a collection of songs that I wrote in the past four years, but the next EP is way more clear. I have an understanding of what I want to do. This is my first time, so it was all new.

I’m excited to make a bigger piece of work. Putting more time in the type of pictures, the videos, the art behind it, and things I want to put in the songs. I just want to see the entire project.

What do you like most: singing in Spanish or English?

It’s weird because I grew up listening to music in English. When I was 15, I moved to Michigan and then to Liverpool, so the past few years I talked more English than Spanish. To be honest, Spanish is not easy to sing. I haven’t tried it that much, but I want to sing in Spanish. A lot of people in Panama and Columbia are texting me that they want something in Spanish — maybe I’ll do a cover or something.

A cover of ROSALÍA?

I love ROSALÍA so much!

More than Gwen Stefani?

I don’t know. ROSALÍA is a new artist, and I wanted to do something older. ROSALÍA is going to be iconic in ten years. I wanted to do a cover of a classic song, and when I was trying to do that, I felt like I wanted to do something that was going to be more fun for people to hear.

When I was growing up, my mum was listening to a lot of Britney Spears, The Black Eyed Peas, and Gwen Stefani. When we were going to the beach, she had all windows down and blasted the music. Looking back it was such a happy memory, so it feels very comforting.

Are those artists you’ve mentioned also an inspiration for you?

No, they were just the artists my mum would listen to. They’re icons and make fun music, but that’s not the genre I listen to. I listen more to Motown and soul, a lot of Brazilian musicians. When I was 12, and I got my first computer, I thought all there was, was “Hit Me Baby One More Time”. I thought the radio had the only music. My brother showed me YouTube and a whole new world opened up. Then I got Spotify, and my mind was blown.

 

What are your biggest goals for this year? Why will 2021 be better than 2020?

I just hope we’re in a world that isn’t run by a virus. It’s been so sad. I hope that the idea of being around people and getting a hug from people isn’t scary anymore.

Can you describe yourself to people that don’t know you?

Confused, hyper, and sensitive. But that’s on a personal level.

Pink pictures by Julian Burgeuño.

Kidä: “Reality is Kind of Absurd in its Own Way” Ava Leoncavallo really is the definition of a hybrid artist. Under her moniker Kidä, the Italian-Egyptian creative creates musical worlds…
Conducta’s Guide To Making the Perfect Guest MIX Conducta is THE hero of UK Garage and can call himself the proud owner of the trailblazing label Kiwi Records.…
The 10 Greatest Songs Of the Week That You Should Listen to Are you bored with playing your usual playlist on repeat? We’ve got your back! Every week, we’re sharing the most…
sweats pimped up car Premiere: Sweats Make You Want To Have A ‘Pimped Up Car’ Sweats, a Belgian group with a high dance factor, just released their music video for “Pimped Up Car”. After mentioning…
X

Subscribe here for free pizza*

(*Pizza might actually be our newsletter)

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.