Music

Meet Sofía Valdés: Panamá’s New Pop Girl Who Started Her Career During the Pandemic

Born and raised in Panamá and with only 21 years old, Sofía Valdés is ready to take the world by storm. She learned how to play guitar at 8 years old, wrote her first song at 13 and fast-forward to today, she’s on tour with boy pablo, had her first live performance at Lollapalooza, will perform at Outside Lands next and more. In an exclusive interview with crema by mitú, we talked to the Panamanian singer about her creative process, upcoming projects and more.

At only 21 years old, Sofía is a true singer-songwriter

More than anything else, Sofía wanted to be a singer-songwriter. She knew that in order for her to get signed, it would be a plus if she could write her own songs. Throughout the years, Sofía has been able to perfect her craft, being able to express her emotions through songs, lyrics that paint a picture so vivid for those to relate to the journey of growing up, experiencing life and love. Sofía’s pen game has the potential to reach the singer-songwriter level of pop singers like Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello and Olivia Rodrigo.

Sofía comes from musical family, her great-grandfather is Cuban musician Miguelito Valdés and her great-grandmother is Silvia De Grasse, a singer that performed alongside Louis Armstrong. While her great-grandparents history does not go unnoticed, she wasn’t pushed by her family to pick up a mic and start singing, her love for music truly happened on its own and she lists her influences as everything from Bossa Nova to ’60s Motown, ’70s soul, Bob Dylan, Jorge Ben Jor, Stevie Nicks and Elliott Smith.

Read: Colombia’s New Pop Wave: 5 Artists You Should Know

Finding roots in places when you’re always on the go

As someone that has lived in many different places from Panamá City, to Michigan, Liverpool, London, LA and more, Sofía knows what it means to find your place in the world, even if that means that you’re always hoping on and off a plane. Her latest EP, Ventura, shows how Sofía navigates life and tries to find roots wherever in the world she may be. “The EP is pretty much me falling in love and at the same time not wanting to, getting my heart broken. Moving around and being afraid of meeting people because I knew I had to keep moving anyway”, Sofía shared.

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Sofía’s music career kicked off during the pandemic

Sofía grew up in Panamá and moved to Interlochen, Michigan when she was 15 years old. From there she went back home to Panamá, but not for long as sho soon started going to Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts where she was right when the pandemic started in March 2020. Up until that point, Sofía had perfected her songwriting craft and was hoping to be signed but then the world as we knew it came into a halt. Nonetheless, Sofía was signed by Warner Records and has since released some singles as part of her EP Ventura.

Her first official single was “Little Did I Know“, which shows her dreamy vocals paired with impeccable songwriting, followed by “Handful of Water” which has some Spanish words and you need to play by the beach, and “Lonely” which is primed for rom-com greatness if placed in a TV show or movie trailer. Some other standout tracks are “Amsterdam” which incorporates poetry from Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges and “Silhouette” which is about not admitting you feelings and hiding your truth behind a screen.

While she sings only in English, Sofía is looking forward to releasing more music in Spanish soon

The reasoning behind her decision to write and sing exclusively in English came from standing up to her bullies back at Interlochen, Michigan. During an interview with Interview Magazine, Sofía revealed that she wanted to perfect her English and to not limit herself only to Spanish speaking audience.

“So to get used to my new environment, and to prove the bullies wrong, I was eager to perfect my English. There’s also the music side. I don’t want to limit my success and reach by only singing in Spanish—plenty of English-speaking audiences won’t listen to it. I also don’t want to be seen as just ‘a girl from Panama who sings in Spanish,’ because I think I’m so much more than that. I don’t want to be put in that box. But I definitely would love to write some music in Spanish, it just has to be done right—I don’t want to just do it because it’s trending.”, Sofía shared with Interview Magazine.

In April this year, Sofía treated fans to a Spanish version of her song “Amsterdam” which is just as beautiful as the English version, showing that her songwriting skill is just as good in her native Spanish.

On performing live for the first time at Lollapalooza

“It was wack” Sofía laughed, “Just kidding! It was amazing. I had never imagined all this positive feedback, and now all these festivals are reaching out. I think the craziest thing was me performing songs from my EP for the first time with a band live and having a group of girls up front singing the song and I was like “Wow”. It still feels very weird to hear that people traveled to come see me perform”, Sofía shared.

Read: SZA Sings In Spanish In Kali Uchis’ “Fue Mejor” Music Video

Sofía’s latest single “Wish You Well” is about a friendship breakup

Breakup songs are familiar, but can we talk about friendship breakups? A more universal experience and a pain that sometimes feels way too relatable, Sofía takes it up a notch with her cheeky songwriting on “Wish You Well”, where she lets this friend know that now she’s good luv, enjoy.

“‘Wish You Well’ is about a close friend of mine in a moment where I had felt betrayed by them. I don’t feel that way about them but it was written about that moment in anger,  those 30 minutes while writing this song was a full release process for me. It’s about someone you grew up with and then you grow apart when you felt like you were going to be together forever. P.S (I don’t want anyone to burn in hell, that line was meant to be a joke but we never took it off the song),” Sofía shared in a statement.

Sofía just performed at Austin City Limits and will tour with Boy Pablo this fall

BOY PABLO WITH SOFIA VALDES TOUR DATES:

October 27 – Vancouver, BC @ Hollywood Theatre

October 28 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre

October 29 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile

October 31 – San Francisco, CA @ Outside Lands Festival

November 1 – Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Expo Hall (w/ Cuco)

November 4 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Complex

November 5 – Ft. Collins, CO @ The Aggie Theater

November 6 – Boulder, CO @ The Fox Theater

November 7 – Denver, CO @ The Gothic

November 10 – Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf

November 11 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren

November 13 – Monterrey, MX @ Pal Norte Festival

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