After wowing listeners with her angelic vocals on Bonobo’s Black Sands, Ninja Tune songstress Andreya Triana returns this summer with her proper debut album, Lost Where I Belong. Andreya has an assured sensibility about her, yet there is an underlying frailty that creeps into her music, making it all the more emotional and authentic. She tends to get highly introspective, so we figured that we ought to catch up with her for an interview to dig just a bit deeper into her thoughts. Hit the skip to read what Andreya has to say about the driving forces behind her music and her philosophy on living well.
Potholes In My Blog: How is life treating you? What have you been up to this summer?
Andreya Triana: Life’s been good; it’s just been very tiring. Lots of gigs. Lots and lots of gigs. I manage myself as well, so I’ve just had massive e-mails and press issues to go through. I’ve been traveling and then coming home to find too many e-mails in my inbox. I’ve had days literally just cooped up at home with my head down answering e-mails. But summer’s been great so far. I did a festival in Croatia for a one of their holidays, so that was incredible.
PIMB: Your music doesn’t particularly fit nicely into one category. It’s got bits and pieces of soul, trip-hop, downtempo and pop. What sorts of sounds and musicians influenced the style of music that you make?
Andreya: Well I think I’m definitely influenced most by soul music. I’m totally rooted in soul music; always have been; don’t know if I always will be. But I’ve always held an interest in people who do blur the boundaries a bit. There’s Jamie Lidell – he’s very experimental, very soulful, and very electronic. It’s kind of like, whoa, what the hell is this? And Bjork as well. I’ve really been influenced by her. I like to listen to artists like that who just create and create to express themselves. They’re not trying to put themselves in a box. They’re not even thinking that way.
PIMB: Talk to us a little bit about Bootis. Who all was involved with that collective? How did you get involved? Do you still work with them?
Andreya: No, I don’t still work with them actually. I’ve been in that band twice, and it’s been very different each time. The first time was when I was 17, and it was this collective of musicians that really just educated me. They were a lot older, and we’d just sit there jammin’ for hours. They introduced me to Sly & The Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix and all of this other world of stuff. I was just this little, innocent 17-year-old girl sitting there, singing, and thinking, “What’s going on?” They taught me stuff that’s stuck with me to this day, so I look up to them, and I have a lot of respect for them.
Then I left the West Midlands and went to University. I’d already started a band of music that I wanted to do – it was more nu-soul type of stuff like Erykah Badu and Jill Scott and then it finished when I left University.
PIMB: There’s been a considerable amount of hype behind your debut album, Lost Where I Belong. How does it feel to be part of the legendary Ninja Tune roster, and how do you handle the pressure of a highly anticipated album?
Andreya: I’m constantly surprised. I think I’ve worked hard for a lot of years. I’m really just trying not to get too much into it. At the end of the day it’s just music, and I just want to make good music. That’s it really. As for the hype and all the other bits and pieces, you can either take it or leave it. It’s very easy to get caught up in the whole hype thing, but understand that it comes and goes. As long as I’m working hard and staying focused and positive then that’s my only concern really. But, it’s nice to have the hype as opposed to no hype or having people say, “Oh, this album is really sh*t!” And it’s really great to be a part of the Ninja Tune family. They’re really great people so it’s all good.
PIMB: Prior to your solo singles and album, you made a splash with a few features on Bonobo’s last album Black Sands. Bonobo is also the primary producer behind your debut album. What is it like to work with him, and how did you two meet in the first place?
Andreya: It’s really good working together. He’s a really good guy. We met in 2006, just through mutual friends and he needed a singer last minute. So I got hideously drunk at the time and really flubbed the gig – I was awful. But we were mates. We hung out that night and had really good laughs. For me, it was never like, oh my gosh, this is Bonobo, because I didn’t even know his music back then. We just happened to get along really well and he really wanted to work together. At first I didn’t believe him, but things progressed and things have gone really well. I just think the working relationship gets better and better.
PIMB: Besides singing, what instruments can you play? Do you play any of the instruments on your own songs?
Andreya: Yeah, I play the guitar. I don’t play the guitar on the album though – that would be bad. I usually use it just to write, and then get people who are much more professional to play on the album. But yeah, I also do a little on the flute, the violin and the saxophone.
PIMB: Lost Where I Belong seems to be a rather personal album – perhaps an album about personal discovery. Can you tell us a little bit about what went into your songwriting for this record?
Andreya: Even the title Lost Where I Belong is purely about that journey. Things were very, very different two or three years ago. I did a multitude of awful jobs. I was a sushi waitress, I worked in a hearing aid shop and I worked in an ice cream van. I asked myself why I was doing that. It was so destroying wondering if I’m really meant to be doing this. “Is this really my calling in life, when I can’t even keep the roof over my head and I’m eating popcorn for lunch because I have no other food.” So a lot of the record has to do with that – knowing what your calling is, but still struggling with it. The whole album is really about that journey and discovery – finding your place. It’s about learning if this is where you belong and if this is what you really want to do. And if it is, there’s an amount that you’ll have to fight for it and keep the faith throughout those crap jobs. You still hold your head up high, because you know that there are better things ahead. But it’s hard to do that sometimes. That’s a true reflection of what I went through.
PIMB: Do you have a personal favorite song from the record? If so, which one, and why is it your favorite?
Andreya: That’s a tough question! I think I really like “Lost Where I Belong”. I mean, it’s the title track of the album. It means a lot and it represents the album as a whole. So I’d say that one’s my favorite. And then Flying Lotus did the remix, and I hadn’t listened to it for a period. So one night I was walking home and I had it on my iPod. I had to listen to it properly, and when I heard the baselines and the harp, I was blown away. He’s got that music that you really need to take time to absorb; it’s very deep.
PIMB: What comes next after Lost Where I Belong? Is there going to be another album in the works? Perhaps a tour as well?
Andreya: Yeah, there’s going to be a tour next – of Europe – and then there will be another Bonobo tour. And after that, album number two! I’ll be a busy lady. But album number two, I’m staying tight-lipped – nothing to reveal.
PIMB: Any final words for the fans out there?
Andreya: Just check out the album; just enjoy it. Listen to it with an open mind and an open heart. Come check out a gig sometime; it’d be nice to meet you![audio:http://potholesinmyblog.flywheelsites.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/03-A-Town-Called-Obsolete1.mp3|titles=Andreya Triana – A Town Called Obsolete]