"I remember being really young and looking up to artists and I wanted to be like them. But I remember feeling sad about the fact that they weren’t like me. They weren’t from Colombia, Nicaragua or Panama" Introducing Sofia Valdes
We chat with Panama's latest pop sensation Sofia Valdes. Signed to Warner Records and with her debut EP, Ventura, set for release in early 2021 we wanted to ask about her single, her background, and how much of a part does her culture play in her music.
Hey Sofia, how the heck are you?
I’m really good thank you!
Where are you right now? And what have you been up to today?
I’m in Hawai’i at the moment, I’m leaving soon back to Panama. Today I made a smoothie, went to the beach, tried free writing and now my boyfriend's waiting for me to answer these question so we can go watch Star Wars.
Introduce yourself to our readers. And tell us one thing about you that we won’t find in your bio.
Hi readers, I’m Sofía Valdés and write songs. I was born and raised in Panama, I’ve been making music for a really long time now so I’m happy I have the space where I can finally share them with you guys.
Your debut EP, Ventura, is out in February, what are you allowed to tell us about it?
Ventura is about love and loss. The aftermath of relationships and getting to know yourself better; being objective and honest about how it all felt. I hope people listen to what I’m saying and hopefully feel understood in some way.
What was the most interesting thing that happened during its recording?
The EP was recorded during quarantine in my bedroom in Panama. 'Little Did I Know' was written back in my house in Liverpool. You can hear all the noise in the back and my roommate's opening the door at the end, we loved the take so we kept it.
You released some music from it already, how do you decide what’s the first thing that people hear from it?
We decided to go with 'Little Did I Know' since it was the weirdest one in the EP. I call LDIK the ugly stepsister, I didn’t want people to expect just pop songs from me.
I’m a big fan of ‘Handful Of Water’; what can you tell me about that song?
'Handful Of Water' is about denying obvious feelings. At the time I was seeing this guy for three months and I told myself I wasn’t going to fall in love with him since he didn’t want a relationship. We ended up dating. [laughs]
The video looks like some home movies from your vacation, how did you come up with the idea?
I always have a camera on me! I was just recording everything and then I sent the clips to my friend and we edited it together and we loved it! We weren’t trying to do a music video it was a happy accident.
‘Little Did I Know’ is a lovely song as well, where did that come from?
I dated someone for a bit who was also my best friend before we dated, I keep saying that the relationship was toxic but haven’t been explaining the situation well. It’s not that he was a toxic person, it was that we weren’t letting each other be our best version of ourselves because we were so similar. We both found comfort in being sad. I was able to let go and I hope he has to, we don’t talk anymore. But I felt relieved that I was able to move on and change my mindset.
You’ve got a lot of musical history in your family, how has that influenced the artist that you’ve become?
It has influenced me personally more than musically. My family has a deep respect for all musicians. I’ve never not taken music seriously. There are lots of people In my family that have wanted to be musicians but didn’t do it out of fear of not being stable financially. So I grew up wanting to “make it” (whatever that means) and have them see me do what they couldn’t.
How important is it that you represent your cultural background in your music?
I remember being really young and looking up to artists and I wanted to be like them. But I remember feeling sad about the fact that they weren’t like me. They weren’t from Colombia, Nicaragua or Panama so the dream of being a singer or an actress felt impossible. I would think to myself “They probably would want someone who speaks perfect English, looks a certain way and its not from Central America” so I want to be that person that doesn’t sing Regeton… sings pop music and younger girls can look up to knowing that they can do it too.
We normally ask about playing live but there’s not been much of that. So, a topical question instead, what’s the most interesting thing you’ve done/learnt during the pandemic?
I don’t have control over things. And I’ll never have full control. I’m learning to live day by day and roll with whatever is going on.
If you could recommend one song to hear this week, what would it be?
Jorge Ben Jor - 'Ôba, Lá Vem Ela'
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
My favorite animals are cats!
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
I can’t drink coffee! I have a very hyper personality so I go absolutely crazy if I have a sip of it. Either I get so much energy everyone around me feels overwhelmed or I fall asleep.