Allan Silva is a soulful singer/songwriter from São Paolo, Brazil. Growing up in a musical country, he quickly got introduced to the music world. Inspired by artists like Switchfoot, John Mayer, Lecrae, and Jimmy Needham, his new single “Girl” is an uptempo soul/funk record, produced by OL Music.
Released on October 26th, “Girl” is a feel good love song. “I used the fact that I missed my girlfriend who had just gone on a long holiday at the time”, reveals Silva.
Now based in London, Silva will be releasing his debut EP “Unhidden” in 2018. Produced by the English production team OL Music, the 5 track EP is a mix of pop/rock & soul/funk records that highlight Silva’s stories about life and love through colourful and relatable songs. It includes the debut single “How Long” and “Girl” now available on all major streaming platforms.
Introduce yourself. What’s your story? Where are you from?
Right, I was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and moved to Bournemouth, UK of all places at the end of 2003 when I was about 14 years old. That was quite a shock in many aspects. Weather, people (or the lack of it in Bournemouth), food, culture and so many other things.
What got you into music? When did you start working in the music industry?
I grew up in an environment totally saturated by music (in a good way) and when I look back it’s almost as If I didn’t have a choice but to be musical. From a young age I watched my dad play guitar and I loved just sitting next to him absorbing as I could. My mum was also always singing around the house and this stretched further to cousins, uncles, grandparents and further still as I grew up going to a very musical church in Brazil. Bearing in mind Brazil is also a super musical country and music is just an everyday part of the people and its culture.
Fast forward a few years, I found myself attending the ICMP (Institute of Contemporary Music Performance) in North London in 2010/11 and that was the first time I recognised music as more than a hobby and started finding my identity as a songwriter as well as identifying myself as one.
Tell us about your upcoming EP “Unhidden”.
The Unhidden EP is long overdue and it’s been a long time coming! It’s strange, because I’ve been doing music for a long time but never released any solo material so it feels like I’m just starting out at the same time.
This may sound a bit cringy and cliche but the inspiration is “Life”. The songs on the EP were written in a long span of about 5-6 years (not with the EP in mind but that’s just where they ended up). I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m often told by people that I’m very candid in my approach to things, sometimes that can be positive and sometimes it can be negative. I very much take that into my songwriting, I openly write and sing about struggles, questions and feelings that most people would usually prefer keeping it to themselves. I relate to people that are real with me and songs that are honest and my hope is that people find that in my music.
I worked with the amazing team at OL Music to record and produce the EP and a close friend (and professional musician) by the name of Ben who was the one that kicked me into gear to actually start this whole project and he has followed through with me the whole way.
Could you tell us about your latest single “Girl” and the writing process behind it?
“Girl” is an interesting one because compared to my other tracks, it doesn’t actually have heavy message attached to it. But rather, it acts as the “palate cleanser” of the EP, the one for people to have some fun with and just have a good time! At the same time it’s probably my favourite one of the record!! It just gives me such a great feeling hearing it and bouncing along to it.
It started as a writing brief for uni, it was picked out of a hat filled with a variety briefs and I ended up with the one everyone used to dread getting: “The love song”. We just knew we’d have to add the usual cliches and soppy lyrics and cheesy key changes and everything that comes with it. BUT as I started writing it I had a little mini epiphany, I thought Love itself is so many things. It’ll give you joy, make you angry, maybe leave you broken hearted, but one thing that it’s not is: boring, so why should a love song be? So I started with the main groovy motif/hook that you hear from secs 03 -10. For the content I used the fact that I missed my girlfriend (now wife) who had just gone on a long holiday at the time and the rest is history.
As an artist, do you think your visuals should be as important as your music?
Yes. I mean, we live in such a visually stimulating world right? The music industry is no different and depending on what you’re going for you have to know how to visually market yourself. Some find this easier than others, knowing exactly what they’re going for. I’m on the other side of the spectrum, I’m not so good with that stuff and as long as it’s in line with what I’m actually like and an honest representation then I think I’m happy.
Networking is key for any artist out there. Do you feel comfortable doing that? Is there any challenge?
Never has the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” made so much sense to me than when I really started investing in my music career.
It almost doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do or how prepared you are to show the world or how well practiced you feel if you don’t know the right people.
Don’t get me wrong, any artist/songwriter/musician/creative who takes their art seriously has to be willing to put in the hard work and time. But knowing the right people is absolutely key! It’s nearly impossible to do it alone in this industry.
Personally, I really struggle with networking. As an introvert, It’s extremely hard for me to start conversations, introduce myself to people, know how to do small talk and all that jazz. And I find large social gatherings with unknown people quite stressful but I push myself none the less as I understand how crucial it is to build a music career and plus, once I get going I enjoy a good conversation with interesting people that have mutual interests.
As an artist, how do you stay true to yourself?
To stay true to yourself, first you have to know who you are. So that’s where I start, by being myself and by building firm foundations irrespective of my music. My aim is for my music (and music career) to be dictated by my character and not the other way round.
As creatives, it’s easy for us to fall into the ‘‘I’ll do whatever it takes’’ mindset because our craft is so closely linked to our emotions. It’s something that is mostly driven by the passion for it rather than a professional aspiration or a career goal (not to say that other careers are not but I think this is more the case for creatives). So with that mindset you end up doing things for the sake of “making it” which is a relative term and it means something different for everyone. You’ll sing songs you don’t want to sing in places you don’t want to be to people that may not connect to it as they should.
If you know who you are and have strong foundations from the start it’ll keep you from deviating too much during the way. It’ll still be really hard and things get blurry from time to time, but that’s life.
Why music? What drives you?
I don’t think of music so much as this “thing that I do” but really it’s just part of me and my character and personality. It’s so embedded in my identity and my day to day. It’s how I process things and it’s one of the lenses that I see the world through.
The importance of music in my life and the idea that someone could find that in my own music one day is pretty motivating.
What’s the hardest thing about being an artist?
There are many things that make a career in the creative world difficult. But speaking as a songwriter/performer I’d have to say that it’s really hard giving so much of yourself away constantly and most of the time having very little in return. Putting yourself out there can be draining and exposing because being an artist is not the kind of career you can do whilst being totally disconnected from it. And having that motivation to keep going and make yourself better until your voice is really heard and until you find people that connect with it can be hard to maintain.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
I remember my first day at the ICMP in London where the head of the course turned to us and said something along the lines of: “We can’t teach you to write songs, no one can. What we want to do is to help you find your sound and identity as a songwriter and to give you the right tools to do so’’.
I remember hearing that and thinking: ‘’What?? Why are we even here then?’’ Whilst everyone also looked kind of confused, but looking back, it’s so true! You need to know your strengths as an artist, not to put yourself in a box or even to let the industry put you in a box but so that you can do what you do, to the best of your ability whilst understanding how and why you are doing it.
What are the things you are the most proud?
I have to say that I’m really proud of finally being able to have recorded my debut EP Unhidden in 2017. Like I said before, it’s been a long time coming and I’m really happy that it’s finally done. Now I’m just excited to share it with everyone!
2017 is coming to an end. What are the lessons learned?
Wow! Where do I start, the EP itself has been a huge and steep learning curve. I’ve learned a lot about the digital side of the musical industry (streaming, registration, rights as a performer and a writer, online marketing, social media and the list goes on).
I’ve learned that it’s so important to surround myself with people that are just as passionate as me and that know a lot more than me so that I can learn from them. I’ve learned the importance of letting people that believe in your to music help you as it’s impossible to do it alone in this industry. And yet I know that I haven’t even touched the surface.
What were you favorite records of 2017?
Man, according to my Spotify statistics I’ve listened to nearly 20,000 minutes of music from over 1050 artists so it’s hard to pick. But I’ve heard some really inspiring artists both new and old like: Eternity Forever, Daniel Caesar, Raelee Nikole, Bernhoft, Theo Katzman, Newton Faulkner, John Mayer, Switchfoot, Gabrielle Aplin and sooo many more that i couldn't’ possibly get through.
What are your goals for 2018?
I just want to get my EP released, do more gigs and spread the word as much as I can to find those special people that will be willing to go on this journey with me. That’s my focus, building the Allan Silva Army to march alongside me on this crazy ride. And the only way to do it is to throw myself out there and hope that the message lands on fertile land.
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