索非亚·瓦尔德斯（SofíaValdés）是一位20岁的歌手/词曲作者，在巴拿马出生和长大，他创造出一种情感上诚实而精美的原创流行音乐，这种音乐只有经过多年的探索才能获得。在八岁时学习弹吉他并在13岁时创作了第一首歌之后，这位具有独立思想的艺术家通过在美国和英国的美术学校学习，并建立了折衷的声音词汇来提高自己的技巧， 60年代Motown和70年代灵魂的英国民谣和波萨诺瓦（bossa nova）。在首张专辑EP Ventura中，Valdés将这些灵感全都融入了自己的声音中，使每首曲目都拥有她不可磨灭的歌曲创作和迷人的嗓音。
凭借超凡的旋律和变幻的节奏，Ventura优雅地介绍了充满活力的音乐，这很可能是瓦尔德斯的血液：她的曾祖父是传奇的古巴音乐家MiguelitoValdés，曾曾祖母是西尔维亚·德·格拉斯（Silvia De Grasse）（巴拿马著名歌手，曾与路易斯·阿姆斯特朗一起演出） 。小时候，瓦尔德斯（Valdés）在治疗师建议她拿起吉他来帮助她协调和专注时发现了她的音乐才能。（她是一个臭名昭著的贫困学生，早年在教室里挣扎，在15岁之前无数次更换学校。）由于妈妈大部分时间都收听前40名广播节目，而且她的吉他老师喜欢滚石乐队等古典摇滚乐队瓦尔德斯（Valdés）负责音乐教育，并很快找到了自己的形成方式，例如尼克·德雷克（Nick Drake），若昂·吉尔伯托（JoãoGilberto），史蒂夫·尼克斯（Stevie Nicks），鲍比·沃马克（Bobbie Womack）鲍勃·迪伦（Bob Dylan）和米妮·里珀顿（Minnie Riperton）。几年之内，她写了她的第一首歌（“那是关于我家中的一个鬼，他的名字叫凯文”），并很快开始将她的素材注入到今天定义她音乐的梦幻忧郁中。
不久之后，瓦尔德斯（Valdés）整夜熬夜写歌，第二天在学校里睡觉。这个过程一直持续到她决定申请北密歇根州寄宿学校Interlochen Arts Academy为止。由于当时她的家人正在处理重大麻烦，因此瓦尔德斯在母亲不知情或未同意的情况下寄出了她的申请。瓦尔代斯说：“我意识到我不能依靠任何人为我实现一切。” “我需要找到自己摆脱困境的方法。”
尽管获得了接受并获得了经济援助（尽管由于语言障碍而未能通过入学考试），瓦尔德斯还是去了Interlochen，并在学校的过度创造氛围中迅速发展起来。她回忆说：“我们坐了几个小时，只是在制作歌曲。” “我们可能在一首歌上花两周的时间，一首歌一首抒情诗，弄清楚如何使其发挥作用。” 尽管在登陆密歇根州时她会说一些英语，但瓦尔迪斯很快掌握了该语言并扩大了抒情色彩，进一步磨练了她细腻而鲜明的叙事声音。
为了继续发展自己的音乐，瓦尔德斯接下来前往利物浦表演艺术学院，这是一所世界著名的大学，由保罗·麦卡特尼（Paul McCartney）创立。与家乡密歇根州相比，她在距离家乡5,000多英里的地方经历了更大的文化冲击，并且在第一年的大部分时间里，她在英格兰度过的时候都感到很不自在。Valdés说：“因为我很害羞，所以我之间没有联系，甚至无法与人交谈。” “整整一年我只是一个人在房间里，写着别人听不到的歌曲。” 尽管她尝试与他人合作，但每个潜在的合作者都未能掌握她对音乐的愿景。她说：“大一毕业时，我已经准备好退学，去当瑜伽老师。” “这真是地狱，我真不高兴，但后来一切都值得了。”
Valdés自从在密歇根州文图拉（Ventura）的生活以来就收集了精选歌曲带有茂密的质感声音，完美地呼应了她歌曲创作中的奔放情感-这种品质在某种程度上归因于她小时候所迷恋的超浪漫钢琴作品。她说：“年轻的时候，有人给我收集了印象派古典音乐时代的大量唱片，这是我多年来一直在听的。” “我喜欢它，因为它是如此忧郁而戏剧化。” EP由Valdés与Oscar Scheller（Charli XCX，Connie Constance）等制作人/工程师共同制作，EP的声音美学完全保留了她创作歌曲过程的亲密感，而这总是始于有目的的孤独。她说：“它打开了我的头，可以在奇怪的地方写东西，所以有时候我会把吉他拿到妈妈的浴缸里，或者坐在桌子下面。”
Ventura的大部分歌曲都源于浪漫的失望情绪，以发自内心的表情展现出来，在上一首曲子走了很久之后，感觉异常微妙，但仍流连忘返。在整个EP中，Valdés用优美的吉他作品和许多特有的细节来装饰她敏锐的内省：“孤独”标题词的奇怪的催眠重复，“ Handful of Water”（这首歌的歌词有时会流到西班牙语） —Valdés出于对她的传统的认可，最终无意间选择保留最终版本）。文图拉岛上最令人着迷的时刻之一，“阿姆斯特丹”的重点是瓦尔德斯的安静毁灭性的声乐表演，在伤心欲绝的记忆中，这听起来似乎有些失落。Valdés表现出色，与疲倦的演奏相得益彰，在这首歌中，用一首西班牙文朗朗上口的诗歌作为样本，以及一些动感的手敲击乐，灵感来自她在巴拿马长大的时候经常听到的音乐。西班牙）。结果是真正令人惊叹的曲目，这是瓦尔迪斯强大的音乐想象力的典范。
在反思文图拉，Valdés指出了制作EP的出乎意料的结果：与她的文化背景之间的联系更加紧密。她说：“我对音乐的研究越深入，我就越了解与家庭成员制作的音乐之间的联系。” “在EP上，它几乎像鼓的运动一样，但是从现在开始，我想进一步探索它。” 不仅是一项重大的创造性突破，而且这种方法的转变也带来了更大的自我接纳感。她说：“当我第一次去美国时，我意识到人们对我的看法与众不同，因此我开始做一些事情，例如染头发成为金发。“我很害怕别人发现我来自哪里，但是后来有一天我停下来说：’这毫无意义。
Ventura, Valdés alchemizes those inspirations into a sound all her own, gracing each track with her indelible songwriting and beguiling voice.
With its transcendent melodies and shapeshifting rhythms, Ventura is an elegant introduction the vibrant musicality that may very well be in Valdés’s blood: her great-grandfather was the legendary Cuban musician Miguelito Valdés, and her great-great grandmother was Silvia De Grasse (a famed Panamanian singer who once performed with Louis Armstrong). As a child, Valdés discovered her musical talents after a therapist suggested she take up guitar to help with her coordination and concentration. (A notoriously poor student in her early years, she struggled in the classroom, changing schools countless times before the age of 15.) Since her mom mostly listened to top 40 radio—and her guitar teacher favored classic-rock bands like the Rolling Stones—Valdés took charge of her musical education and quickly found her way to formative influences like Nick Drake, João Gilberto, Stevie Nicks, Bobbie Womack, Bob Dylan and Minnie Riperton. Within a few years she’d written her first song (“It was about a ghost in my house; his name was Kevin”), and soon began infusing her material with the dreamy melancholy that defines her music today.
Before long, Valdés was staying up all night working on songs and sleeping through school the next day—a cycle that continued until she decided to apply to Interlochen Arts Academy, a boarding school in Northern Michigan. Because her family was dealing with significant troubles at the time, Valdés sent in her application without her mother’s knowledge or consent. “I realized I couldn’t rely anyone to make things happen for me,” says Valdés. “I needed to find a way to get out on my own.”
After gaining acceptance and securing financial aid—despite failing part of the entrance exam due to the language barrier—Valdés headed to Interlochen and immediately thrived in the school’s hyper-creative atmosphere. “We’d sit for hours and hours, just crafting songs,” she recalls. “We could spend two weeks on one song, going lyric by lyric, figuring out how to make it work.” Though she spoke some English upon landing in Michigan, Valdés soon mastered the language and expanded her lyrical palette, further honing her delicate yet distinct narrative voice.
To move forward with her musical development, Valdés next headed to the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, a world-renowned university founded by Paul McCartney. Having journeyed more than 5,000 miles from home, she suffered even greater culture shock than in her early days in Michigan, and spent most of her first year in England feeling miserably out of place. “I didn’t have connections and I couldn’t even speak to people because I was so shy,” Valdés says. “That whole year I was just alone in my room, writing songs that no one else ever heard.” Although she tried working with others, each potential collaborator failed to grasp her vision for her music. “By the end of freshman year I was ready to drop out and go be a yoga teacher,” she says. “It was hell and I was so unhappy—but then it ended up all being worth it.”
Upon returning to Liverpool the following year, Valdés connected with fellow musicians who encouraged her to keep writing and hooked her up with co-writing sessions in London. She also started posting her songs online, eventually catching the attention of a music manager who reached out to her toward the end of the semester. Within weeks, her Christmas trip home to Panama was derailed by a visit to Los Angeles to meet with record labels, which promptly led to her signing with Warner Records. Though she returned to Liverpool for the spring semester, Valdés soon had to fly back to Panama when the pandemic hit, taking off in such a rush that her guitars and computer were left behind. Once she’d gotten settled at home, Valdés began the process of working remotely with producers to bring her debut EP to life.
A selection of songs Valdés has gathered since her days in Michigan, Ventura bears a lushly textured sound that perfectly echoes the effusive emotion of her songwriting—a quality she attributes partly to the ultra-romantic piano compositions she obsessed over as a child. “When I was younger someone gave me this huge collection of records from the Impressionist Era of classical music, and that was all I listened to for years,” she says. “I loved it because it was so melancholic and dramatic.” Co-produced by Valdés along with producer/engineers like Oscar Scheller (Charli XCX, Connie Constance), the EP’s sonic aesthetic fully preserves the intimacy of her songwriting process, which always starts in purposeful solitude. “It opens my head up to write in weird places, so sometimes I’ll take my guitar into my mom’s bathtub, or go sit under a table,” she notes.
With most of its songs sparked from romantic disappointment, Ventura unfolds with a heartfelt expression that feels extraordinarily subtle yet lingers long after its last track. Throughout the EP, Valdés adorns her sensitive introspection with graceful guitar work and so many idiosyncratic details: the strangely hypnotic repetition of the title word on “Lonely,” the woozy grooves of “Handful of Water” (a song whose lyrics sometimes drift into Spanish—an unintentional deviation Valdés ultimately chose to keep in the final version, in recognition of her heritage). One of the most mesmerizing moments on Ventura, “Amsterdam” centers on a quietly devastating vocal performance from Valdés, who sounds sublimely lost in the haze of heartbroken memory. In a brilliant counterpart to her languid delivery, Valdés layers the song with a scratchy sample of a poem read in Spanish, as well as a bit of kinetic hand percussion inspired by the music she often heard while growing up in Panama (a country colonized by Spain). The result is a truly stunning track, a prime example of Valdés’s potent musical imagination.
In reflecting on Ventura, Valdés points to an unexpected outcome of making the EP: a much more powerful connection to her cultural background. “The deeper I get into working on my music, the more I realize how much it’s connected to the music that people in my family were making a long time ago,” she says. “On the EP it’s in little things like the movement of the drums, but I want to explore that even more from now on.” Not only a major creative breakthrough, that shift in approach speaks to a greater sense of self-acceptance. “When I first went to the U.S., I realized that people saw me as different, and I started doing things like dyeing my hair blonde to try to fit in,” she says. “I was scared about people finding out where I was from, but then one day I just stopped and said, ‘This makes no sense.’ Now I want everyone to know that my culture is amazing and that I’m so proud of it, and that everyone else should be proud of their culture too.”
2021 – Ventura [EP]