Artist Interview – Loyal Lobos (Andrea Silva) on how 98% of songs are about being sad

We received about four submissions from a young woman named Andrea Silva and accepted them all. That’s pretty rare for us, even for artists we’ve known and supported for years. After a bit, I got a message explaining that Andrea Silva was changing her name to Loyal Lobos. It intrigued me and I set up an interview. A matter of hours from that message I was on the phone with the Colombian-born Silva, talking about her new sound and identity in Loyal Lobos.

The new EP The Fall, which began popping in up promotional formats in the fall, is actually a bit of a divergence from her sound. This more folk-driven album is a divergence from an electro pop sound that defines Silva’s music. But this album… this was something special that just had to be written. As I asked her about it, the artist now going by Loyal Lobos explained that she just needed to deal with these songs wrapped around an emotion of love. She explains that music is about “gravitating toward feelings through sound” and this album, self contained, has that element to it. They go together.

What I really appreciated most about my talk with Loyal Lobos, though, is the way that she is incredibly frank about everything. Whether I was asking about thoughtful lyrics or her dynamic cover art, she answered with a blunt style that was neither confrontational nor dismissive. It is what it is, so to speak. She was, in a word, an easy interview. Every question I asked, she seemed to have plenty to say on topics ranging from songwriting inspiration to her existence in the often-bizarre music industry.

Silva’s musical background was actually in jazz. That is to say she learned how songs worked in that general style, then at 18 when moving to the United States she started doing work with synth pop. Despite some fruitful collaboration work, she didn’t really love it. She found her messages getting lost in the music and gravitated toward folk music because it was a bit more true to the lyrical message she wanted to portray. The influence of a close friend helped her explore artists like Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and the particularly evocative Daniel Johnston. As she began writing increasingly more moving and poetic lyrics in English, her second language, Silva found the challenge quite moving. She loves messing around with electronic beats, synths, and unique guitar effects. So even though this EP has some elements of folk and folk rock, she will be returning to her electro styles soon.

When I asked about songwriting, Silva had some really interesting things to say. In one sense, she talked about her own songs coming out of a unique headspace, but then she also said that 98% of songs are being sad. “So now, how do you say it? That’s the art.” She explained that most songs are merely metaphors to explain the artist’s sadness. It hit me like a ton of bricks. She’s absolutely right. It also made me listen to pretty much everything differently after that conversation. But back to her songwriting, she says that she sits down to write, grabs some of her notes that she’s taken into her phone, and works with them to make a song. She uses the guitar to capture the emotion of the piece and builds around that.

I really wanted to know the story of her rapidly rising single “The Fall,” which we’ve covered as both an acoustic and plugged in track. She said that she was with a man in the moment right before the breakup. The song captures that moment where everything slows down (slow motion, maybe?) right before… well, the fall. If you haven’t listened to it while reading the lyrics, check it out on bandcamp and read along. You’ll notice some pretty incredible lines, especially one about the moon and stars that is a universal connection. Our discussion delved into that dimension, ducking into an existential conversation about God and happiness/sadness. It was really enjoyable. She’s clearly both a deep thinker and a profoundly emotional person. Putting those dimensions together in a talented musician makes for some enlightening music.

One of Silva’s most fascinating conversations was a bit of a critique of the new electro sound we’re hearing everyone. She explains that many electro artists don’t actually know how to make music and are connecting electronic soundbytes together. Yet, many in the folk realm are staying purely to string instruments and are not veering into electronic music, sounds, or arrangements. Her goal with her next project is to meld those two things together, creating a dynamic electronic sound that shows the evidence of a songwriting and musician. I am intrigued to hear what she will develop because there was already some of that on this EP and I can’t wait to hear more.

So if you’re like me, you were dying to know about the name change. Despite her obvious depth as a person, the reason is really rooted in simple pragmatics. “It’s easier to be a character.” With a name like Loyal Lobos, the person of Andrea Silva won’t have to put all of her self out there. She can couch it in metaphor and different terms. She can be true to her self, her art, and her experiences while keeping it within the character of an artist. In an effort to avoid being a singer songwriter who does the same thing over and over, the moniker Loyal Lobos will allow her to explore even more of her songwriting mind and spirit. That sounds promising to us.

If you haven’t checked out her music, be sure to head to her Bandcamp or Soundcloud pages for more on this enigmatic yet provocative singer songwriter.

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