Every song on Sofía Valdés’s new EP Silvia sounds like it would play during a climactic Gossip Girl montage. Valdés takes the 2000s comparison as a major compliment, especially since she led the production side of the project. “That’s the best way I’ve heard someone describe it. If this would’ve come out in the late ’90s or early ’00s, I think it would’ve been in the Fiona Apple world. That’s my dream,” she shares in an exclusive interview with Her Campus.
The Panamanian singer’s first two EPs, Ventura and In Bloom, put her on the map with retail-friendly dream pop songs like “Handful of Water.” Silvia is the most authentic project Valdés has put out yet. “I really took my time to figure out what I wanted to talk about and hear what each song needed rather than what other people would like. I’m very happy I did because right now, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been with my music,” she says.
Silvia’s five tracks explore different themes from Valdés’s life at the time she wrote the EP: the loneliness that comes from moving to a new country, betrayal, and longing for the life she used to have while yearning for people she wants to include in her next chapter. Listening to Silvia is like holding a diamond between your fingers. Each facet is a unique reflection of the same central theme: Valdés’s clear commitment to making music that feels like her.
Her Campus sat down with Valdés to get the inside story behind each song on Silvia, from tales of the immigrant experience to what really happened the one time she met the person who inspired the EP’s final track.
- “midnight freak-out”
Valdés wrote “Midnight Freak-Out” to channel how lost she felt when she moved from Panama to the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I dreaded nighttime because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I’d want to call people from back home but couldn’t because of time zones. I was anxious for companionship,” she divulges. The song’s title couldn’t be more apt; the track has a hazy melancholy around it that sounds exactly like a late-night breakdown.
The second track on the EP has a distinct bite to its lyrics and guitar riff that shows an angsty side of Valdés she rarely lets herself feel inside or outside of the studio. “It was impossible for me to get a house in the U.S. I was living on my friends’ couches and asking for so much help around that time. The people I thought I could trust most left me alone. I felt so angry and betrayed,” she shares.
Valdés was simultaneously under a lot of pressure to create her next EP. The stressful combination resulted in the perfect storm she needed to write “Easy.” “I never allow myself to get angry at anything, but this time I got pissed and was like, F*ck you and f*ck you too!” she laughs.
Valdés admits that she’s changed her entire personality for a crush in the past. In the case of “Wild,” she was in “a relationship where I would’ve chopped off my arm for this person,” she reveals. “Then I realized that they were interested in another type of girl, and I can’t make myself be something I’m not.”
It’s too rational a statement for the self-proclaimed delulu girl. She confesses, “He never said any of this out loud. I just felt it.” Still, Valdés is adamant that her analysis of the relationship was right.
Any time Valdés questioned her commitment to pursuing music while writing Silvia, she’d find comfort in thinking about her great-grandparents. She reflects, “They both died on stage. My great-grandfather [Cuban musician Miguelito Valdés] had a heart attack in front of everyone during his last song. They literally gave their lives to music. It makes me think, What am I doing? This is so much bigger than me.”
The song and EP are named after Valdés’s great-grandmother, Silvia de Grasse, a famous Panamanian singer from the ‘40s and ‘50s whose music “was seen as very rebellious. The things she’d talk about were scandalous at the time,” Valdés says in awe. With its heavy Latin influence and Spanish lyrics, “Silvia” is just as powerful, feminine, and confident as its namesake.
- “barbed wire”
“Barbed Wire” is about someone Valdés developed an instant crush on the one time they met. When they both found themselves in Los Angeles years later, they went on a wholesome ice cream not-date as friends. The story has a familiar yet unsatisfying ending: He ghosted her, possibly because there was someone else in the picture. Valdés posted a TikTok in which she was considering sending him the song. Whether or not she actually did it is off the record.
How do you make peace with a love that maybe was, maybe wasn’t? “I don’t know. I literally wrote a song and was depressed for two months when I met someone once,” Valdés offers. It’s that kind of unabashed honesty that threads throughout Silvia and paints a picture of Valdés’ innermost thoughts. The EP is undoubtedly hers — but now, it’s yours too.