By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Los Angeles-based indie singer-songwriter Phoebe Silva recently released her latest single “Into The Wilderness,” which showcases her ability to blend music, art, love and glitter into one solid, joyful entity.
As an artist, violinist, music teacher and all-around collaborative music maker, Silva regularly combines elements of folk, classic rock, R&B, blues, jazz and retro-pop in her songs to draw people in and make them want more.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Silva about “Into The Wilderness” and more.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt the music industry?
Phoebe Silva – I love this question. I’ve had many heated debates on this very subject with my musician friends. Speaking solely from the artist perspective, I think it’s a double edged-sword, really. Social media affords independent artists opportunities to self-promote and connect with audiences in ways that weren’t possible before. On the other hand, more accessible tools means more competition for visibility. I know a lot of music artists who are not into the visual aspects of social media and don’t love how it has forced many of us to consider merging visual elements with our music for the sake of marketing. I think if that sort of visual expression doesn’t come natural to a musician, they’re going to view it as a detriment. Personally, I’m a multi-medium artist and visual aesthetics play into how I curate, arrange and write my music. I find it to be an asset from a personal sense of expression. The competitive aspect of comparing our success to others is a huge bummer. With kids getting famous off TikTok and stuff, it definitely commodifies what we put out there as artists, but I don’t think it necessarily takes away from our artistry. I think it’s all how you look at it.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Phoebe Silva – I’m a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S.. I went to a performing arts high school in Toronto when I was a kid. I’ve lived in a lot of places – Philadelphia, New York, San Diego, Toronto, Alaska and now, Los Angeles.
Music Bugle – What was it like making “Into The Wilderness”?
Phoebe Silva – I brought the song to my buddy, Gilbert Louie Ray, a singer-songwriter and self-producer who I’ve played violin with many times. We recorded it in his living room mostly in one day. I was crashing on a foldout couch in my other friend’s recording studio at the time, in between apartments and all of my instruments were living in the trunk of my car. Gil is a multi-instrumentalist as well and specializes in folk and roots music, so I had a hunch that he and I might be able to make something cool out of this strange, simple little folky song I had written. It was a totally joyful collaboration. Gil is super talented and creative and we’re good buddies, so it all flowed very organically. He brought out colors that fleshed out these vague images and emotions I had in my head about the song.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Los Angeles to someone who has never been there before?
Phoebe Silva – L.A. is like a bunch of little cities stuck together and super spread out. It feels like the suburbs, but also dirty like a city should be. Everyone is a hustler and most people work in the entertainment industry, which they just call, “the industry.” This pertains to film and TV, as well as music. Everyone eventually meets everyone else, usually at a party or a club or a show or a red carpet thingy. Most people work from home or coffee shops and bars, but mostly just take “meetings” literally anywhere and everywhere they go. The sky is really, really pretty, largely because of the shitty air quality. There are lots of trees and that’s nice. Ocean and mountains and desert and Hollywood.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Phoebe Silva – “Work is love made visible.” – Khalil Gibran
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest struggle lately?
Phoebe Silva – Managing my mental health. That’s always my biggest struggle, though it’s taken on a new tone during the pandemic for a variety of reasons. I have general anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder and I take an antidepressant that helps my brain function smoothly. My thoughts run completely haywire without meds. It wasn’t always like that. I had a sort of nervous breakdown several years ago that prompted me to leave New York City after eight years and come home to California. I am very open about my mental health journey because I spent many years feeling super alone and struggling without having a frame of reference for what I was experiencing. It helped me to hear other people’s’ stories, so now, I share mine openly. Normalizing mental health disorders is super important to me.
Music Bugle – How exactly have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Phoebe Silva – I’ve been fortunate to maintain a lot of my freelance work as a music teacher. I haven’t had a regular day job for a couple years, so I’m fully self-employed now. I miss playing gigs a lot. I’m a violinist, as well as a singer-songwriter and I used to do a lot of live and studio session work. That’s all stopped indefinitely. On the bright side, it’s afforded me time to focus on recording and releasing new music. I have a ton of stuff I’m working on now.
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Phoebe Silva – I paint and make visual art on the side. I think I’ve painted 20 or more paintings since March. I’m going to put together a website and sell prints maybe. Painting is super meditative for me. That and making a D.I.Y. EP with my friends. I haven’t gotten into the domestic stuff. It turns out my survival instinct tells me to create prolifically when feeling existentially threatened. I made like, 20 flower crowns from fake flowers from the dollar store the first week of lockdown. That was how I panicked. Hot glue and fake flowers.
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to go back to this past New Year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?
Phoebe Silva – I would tell myself to leave that boy alone! There was a boy. I should have left him alone. Also, save as much money as you can and brace yourself for a lot of alone time.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?
Phoebe Silva – The beach, just to sit, or I make a nest of pillows and blankets on the floor of my bedroom and hibernate. I go into my imagination. Plan and daydream. or into a blank canvas.