Sofia Valdes has the dreamiest voice you've ever heard and her effortless melodies immediately feel so hypnotic it's hard to get out of. Her new EP Silvia is an ode to her great grandmother, a Panamanian musician, and thinking of her gave Sofia comfort in her new life in Los Angeles. I've been addicted to this EP, Sofia adds a perfect dose of vulnerability and emotion that just hits you so hard. We talked to her about the new music, her undeniable work ethic, and what keeps her motivated.
Tell me about your new EP Silvia?
Sofia: I started writing this EP, really, like a year ago. The main thing that was inspiring me at the time was I had been living in LA for maybe eight months, almost a year, and I was having a pretty rough time. I had friends, but I missed home a lot, and I was very grateful to be in LA. And culturally, I just missed home so much. I kind of experienced a culture shock again because of it. I guess, in a way, this EP is kind of a little bit like an immigrant story-ish. Coming to the US, I would be by myself. I don't have anyone in the country to call if anything happens. It was a very overwhelming time. I was also very happy at the time. Emotionally, it was just a weird, turbulent time, but also, there was a lot of happiness and joy.
I was reading that your great-grandma was also a musician.
Sofia: Her name is Silvia. She was a Panamanian folklore singer-songwriter. And she used to be really rebellious for her time. Imagine the 1930s and 1940s, in an Ariana Grande outfit from now, being worn then. She was just very controversial but also really respected. And she was a mother, and she was a sister. She was a very loving wife and mom. But also, she was this really talented, kind of powerful woman. When all of this is happening, I told you that I was kind of freaking out, "What am I doing here?" I found a lot of comfort in thinking about her. I had never really thought about her that much, but I was like, "How did this woman do all of this in her time and be successful and was able to carry on her career for such a long time because it's hard?" And thinking about her would calm me down a lot.
What has been kind of one of the biggest challenges for you in your music career?
Sofia: I think listening to myself is really hard because also, at the end of the day, yeah, music is beautiful, and it's this soul-connecting, powerful tool. But also, it is an industry, and there are people that are putting money behind you. There are people that are working with you. I think that reality is so hard for me to comprehend because I'm so in the music for this soul-connecting for whatever reason. But really, it's like, yeah, cute, but also there's an industry behind it. I feel very, very grateful to have support and be able to do all of this, but I would say that the biggest challenge is to listen to myself and also find a place where I can have a successful business but still make the stuff that I love.
I feel like your songwriting is so vulnerable. Is it hard ever kind of putting that out to the world?
Sofia: I used to be someone who always used to talk everything out and used to be so vulnerable when talking. And I still am. But I find that now, I like to work on my own things by myself or with strictly the person I have a problem with or whatever the problem is. So when it comes to songwriting now, it's also really hard for me to go deep because I recently felt like maybe I'm too overwhelmed to feel that much while writing because it's like every time you write, you're pretty much opening a wound and then closing it back up.
Writing has been kind of hard for the past six months or so because I'm terrified of going in and going deep and finding my truth. It's really scary sometimes for me. But I guess it's my job. Sometimes, mentally, it's so draining. I'm trying to find a way where I can maybe walk into that space and then go back to my normal, but it's just really hard. So that's where I'm kind of trying to figure that out.
What would be your best piece of advice for young women in music?
I guess just really, really, really listen to yourself and know that you're not wrong. A lot of people are going to tell you what the right way is, but you and your gut will always know what that is. I still struggle with listening to myself, but I think it's like, "If you think something's wrong, something is wrong. If you think something is not you, maybe slightly, then it's not." And it's okay. All these feelings are okay. Whatever you might feel during this journey of finding yourself and even finding what anyone wants to do with their life, it's okay to feel overwhelmed and not know where you're going and what it is that you actually are. I don't think it's a bad thing that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves because I think if we don't, then we don't get anywhere. But I guess especially women's gut, it's really intuitive, and it actually knows what's going on. So yeah, I would say really, really, really try to get in touch with yourself and listen to yourself.
What keeps you motivated, especially in music where it feels like there's so much?
Sofia: Connecting with why I love music. Really watching shows or going back to my favorite artists and seeing what it was about them when I was younger that sparked my first interest in them. What was it? And then trying to center myself again through it because I forget all the time. It's such a hard industry that then you're like, "Is it even worth it? What am I doing? Is this pain all worth it?" And then in those moments, I've gone back-- there's this one video of Nina Simone. She's playing piano and singing. I can't remember which song right now. I remember every time I watched that video, I cried so much, and I would be like, "Oh, this is what I love about this. This is what I love about this." And then, I would come back and center myself, and then I was able to keep working.