Against a simple wooden background, singer-songwriter Claudia Valentina takes to the mic. And without any fuss or fanfare, her controlled soulful vocals erupt emotively against a gently simmering piano accompaniment. Such is the setting of the brand new black-and-white music video from the emerging UK artist; a stirring live performance shot at Brixton’s iconic venue, The Laundry. Stripped-back and minimal, Valentina’s raw, unbridled talent is laid bare for us to see.
“Seven” is her debut offering, taken from her upcoming EP – and explores the universal feeling of being let down, and that sinking sensation of “feeling a bit stupid for waiting up for someone, and that person never showing up.”
At the age of 10, Valentina was already gracing the stages of the West End, later making the move to Los Angeles to kickstart her already promising music career. Back in London, the artist has since been honing her introspective songwriting and brand of mesmerising pop.
We caught up with the artist about recalibrating in lockdown, being obsessed with Rosalía, and her debut single…
How has lockdown been treating you?
There’s always a silver lining even in the worst of situations. I think everyone has slowed down and had a moment to revaluate. I’ve been eating good, sleeping like a baby and feeling a lot calmer and more prepared for this year.
Has this time given you a chance to recalibrate?
Absolutely… I never thought these words would come out my mouth, but I love doing sessions on Zoom. I’ve pretty much been working every day since the start of lockdown on music and I’m loving it… the hustle doesn’t wait for no one.
How have you been turning this time into one of creativity?
I think it’s easy to get into the habit of sleeping all day a watching Netflix which I definitely did for a minute but I wanted to take advantage of this time and get into the nitty gritty stuff which would normally have been rushed. Also It pushed me to go back to basics and write music on my own without a producer in the room which I don’t get time to do that often.
You’ve always had a love for performing, having been in the West End at 10 years old – how has this more theatrical experience influenced your sound or confidence?
It’s not at all what I’m into now and it’s strange thinking about how much of a stage kid I was when I was much younger, I loved it back then. It definitely didn’t influence the sound I make now. My balls were so much bigger back then!
And by the age of 13 you were already crafting songs in LA – who were you working with?
Indeed! I remember my first session in LA was with Johan Carlson and Matt Squires and I was scared shitless. I really didn’t know how it worked and everyday was life or death to make sure it went well. Johan was always one of my biggest idols growing up and to be able to make music with him in my first real session blew my mind. I still feel the same when I have a session with him now.
And what was it like going into that environment?
You could say I loved it because I haven’t stopped since! Waking up in the morning knowing I can go to the studio every day and make music with people I love for the rest of my life makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world.
How do you feel starting at such a young age has influenced you?
It made me a blood-thirsty hustling machine. I grew up really young and quickly learned this industry and work isn’t as cute as it looks. You have to work like a dog and have doors shut in your face every day and never let it phase you… You could say not much phases me these days.
What’s been your biggest pinch-me moment so far?
I feel like I have those moments every day! Probably in New York when I was signing my deal. I was in the elevator and realised my music was playing in the building and the whole of Republic clapped when I walked out … still haven’t gotten over that.
What artists have influenced you the most – while growing up and sonically?
Rosalía! I’m obsessed. I feel like I’ve watched her sound and visuals develop over the past year and it’s just Ignited this thirst in me to achieve what I’ve set out to achieve.
Congratulations on our debut track “Seven” – you’ve admitted it’s a step away from your usual “bad bitch in the driver’s seat” narrative – why is it important for you to show this softer more vulnerable side?
Bad bitches make mistakes too. It doesn’t matter how confident you are, everyone feels stupid and let down sometimes. It’s imported to remember that you’re not the only one and it’s okay to feel that way. Just wake up the next morning and get back to the money.
What is “Seven” about – any time in your life in particular? And what did you want to convey with the stripped-back aesthetics?
When I write stripped back songs, it’s very important to me that the lyrics aren’t sugar-coated or fluffy. I love details in my song writing. Being more descriptive instead of using broad terms makes you feel something better. Paints a better picture of the situation.
What type of tracks do you prefer to perform live: the gentler, vulnerable tracks or the louder, empowering ones?
I used to perform a lot growing up and I haven’t been able to in a while because I’ve been locked up in a studio. I’ve been a dancer since I was a kid so I cannot wait to dig into choreography. I’m obsessed with Charm La’Donna and Parris Goebel. I lie awake at night for hours imagining my music with their direction.
What can you tell us about your upcoming EP? What ties all the tracks together/what is it inspired by?
It’s very special to me as it’s the first time I’m introducing myself to the world with my music. This EP I hope will give people a look into my personality and a glimpse of what’s to come..
What are you excited for in 2020?
2020 is a moment for me because It’s taken me a lifetime of being patient and working myself to the death just to get to the starting line but I’ve loved every second of the hustle. hopefully people want to stick around with me to hear what comes next.