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Perfect Storm: In Conversation with Claudia Valentina

Claudia Valentina knows the creative industries inside out. At 10 years old, she landed a role in the West End production of Billy Elliot, leaving her small town in Guernsey for the bright lights of Theatreland. At 13, she moved to LA to launch her music career, drawn to the creative energy of the recording studio. She’s been song writing ever since and honing her technique with LA professionals. “It’s all about experience,” she told me when we caught up over Zoom. “When I was 13, I thought I had so much to write about. I was wrong.”

Six years of life experience later and she’s finally ready to share her music with the world. Her message is all about confidence. “I want to inspire other young people not to take no for an answer. It’s a journey, but self-confidence is everything.” Her first single Seven is soft and melancholy, but with defiant undertones. “Ultimately what I’m saying is – don’t take crap from boys!” She followed with Obsessed, turning to smooth synths and RnB to reveal a different side to her character. It has nothing to do with boys, but rather passion for her career. “Music is my world. I love it. I’m obsessed.”

So you’re in London at the moment. What do you think of the city?

I love it. I’m originally from Guernsey, but I moved to London when I was 10 or 11. After a few years I moved to LA and lived there for a while. But London has always felt like home. I have so many friends here, I’m obsessed with everything about the city. Culturally, everyone does their own thing. Style, you can do what you want. People don’t judge you like in other places.

Do you have a favourite area?

(pauses to consider for a while) Portobello Road. I spend way too much time there.

How does London compare to LA?

LA is an amazing place, but you definitely feel a lot more pressure out there. It’s nice to come back to London where everything feels a bit more chill. In LA, people are always trying to compete. The energy is amazing because everyone has the same hunger, but it’s a lot, especially when you’re young.

Did your time in LA influence you as an artist?

It threw me in the deep end. There’s such a high calibre of work out there. It’s also very fake – there are so many promises where people don’t follow through. In London, when people say things, they do it. It’s not like that in LA. That toughened me up a lot. I learned never to take no for an answer.

Is that something you want to communicate through your music?

Yeah, it’s a big part of my message – being strong, independent and confident. I’d love to help other young people and boost their confidence. Finding my confidence has been the biggest breakthrough in my life. It’s not a lightbulb moment, though. It’s a journey, it takes time.

What does success look like to you?

Being in the studio every day, doing what I do with people I’ve always looked up to. I’m living my childhood dream. People always say the hard work starts when you sign a record deal… and it’s completely true. It’s been 100 miles an hour ever since.

That sounds like hard work! Where do you draw inspiration?

I take inspiration from everywhere. I never feel stuck for inspiration. Studio sessions often feel like therapy to me – if something’s on my mind, I put it into a song that’s perfect, polished and gets the message across. Then I can let it go.

How do studio sessions compare to performing live? I love your performance of Seven at The Laundry in Brixton, it’s mesmerising.

Thank you! Performing has always been my favourite. Growing up, I did theatre, dancing, acting, singing, everything since I was a baby. I’m so excited to do more shows. Obviously corona ruined all my plans, but I’m still doing the dance training. Dancing and performing to my own music will be so rewarding.

Do you have a vision for what your shows will look like?

I’ve always had an image in my head of exactly how I want them to be. Even when I’m making music, I always visualise the performance, which has a big influence on the music itself. I can’t wait to do big, high-energy dance tracks.

You released your first single Seven back in June. When did you write it?

I wrote it a little before lockdown, just before everything happened. It’s the first sad song I’ve written. That’s not usually what I preach, but it was how I was feeling that day. I think most of us have been in that situation. Getting the feeling out and into a song really helped. That goes back to the therapeutic thing.

Obsessed, your second release, has a different energy. What’s the message?

It was important to write a song that isn’t about a guy or a love story. My personality is obsessive – my family think I’m crazy! I’m all about my work, my brain is completely taken up by it. I’m completely obsessed with what I do.

The aesthetics for the music video are beautiful – I love the wildflowers and vintage car. How was it to film?

Since it was my first proper video, I wanted to keep it low key and cool. It was an amazing day. But I think I got hypothermia in the bathtub scene… it was freezing. It was great to film it in person though. I was fully prepared to shoot it on Zoom!

What should we look out for in the future?

There’s music coming very soon. It’s a taster of what’s to come, the style I’d like to continue with. I’m super excited about it. It has the bad-bitch energy and empowerment I like to preach.

Interview by Emma Short, Music Editor

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