We are sitting down with Sobrenadar, aka the musician and composer Paula Garcia, who writes lush, nautically-inspired bedroom synth pop that is both soothing and surprisingly dancey. Garcia was kind enough to take a few minutes after soundcheck (before opening for Julia Holter) this past Friday to chat about her creative process and the evolution of the local electronic music scene.
Tell me about your creative process: How do you begin composing a song?
Generally, I begin writing with a guitar. I find a few chords that feel right and then work my way from there, trying different things to see what fits. I always record everything I do, from the very beginning.
Do you write lyrics at the same time as the music?
No, never. Lyrics always take forever, so I always leave them for last. To write vocal melodies I’ll use words that don’t exist in any language – nonsense words. I just try things to see what goes well with the melody, more focused on the sound of the word than its significance. Once that’s finished, I’ll listen and say “Ok, this word here could be “encuentro” and from there I’ll begin imagining a story, or, if I’m inspired, the lyrics will all come out at once and I’ll write the entire song.
Do the majority of your lyrics come from your personal life? Or from other things that inspire you, like art, books, etc?
Yeah, some things come from books I’m reading at the moment, but more than anything the lyrics come from dreams and things that happen in both conscious and subconscious life. There are also many personal stories…those are the lyrics that come from a more romantic place, from love.
How has your sound evolved with time?
I’ve been doing this for 5 years now, and when I listen to what I was doing at the beginning, like my first album and first demos…I think there’s been a change. I don’t know if it’s positive or not, but I try not to do the same thing, to become stagnant – I like to try new things while staying faithful to my style.
What are some specific things you’ve changed?
Well, the vocals aren’t so faded, mixed into the background. In the last few songs the vocals are a bit louder, without as many effects, and you can understand the lyrics a bit better.
Could that have to do with confidence?
Yes, also my friends telling me “Hey, I don’t hear the vocals, are you singing?” It still happens to me sometimes…people want to hear my voice, so I try to make the vocals louder within my comfort zone – but you can’t force something if you don’t feel it.
You’ve played some big shows in the last couple of years, like the Red Bull Music Academy in Paris – how was that?
It was incredible, it was my second trip abroad and we were 30 participants from all parts of the world, so we all had to deal with the different languages and personal tastes of each person.
You said that as your second trip abroad – what was your first?
I played SXSW in Austin in 2014. That festival is totally crazy, it wipes you out. There are so many bands that you want to see that end up playing at the same time, so you have to choose between them…but still, it was amazing.
Who are your influences? What other Argentine musicians do you particularly enjoy?
Locally speaking, I love Guazuncho, who is a guy from Corrientes, Juana Molina, Daniel Melero, Charly Garcia, Ibiza Pareo, Coiffeur, and Ignacio Herbojo. There are so many good musicians here that deserve recognition. Internationally, I enjoy a lot of French musicians, especially Charlotte Gainsbourg.
What are your thoughts on the electronic scene in Buenos Aires? How do you see it evolving in the future?
Lately I’ve seen a lot of new electronic music projects emerging. It’s a little difficult because the music scene here is very rock-oriented and people are less open to other things, but I think in the last 5 years that has changed quite a bit and there are a ton of projects that are playing out locally and people are going to see live. I hope that this continues in the future, that there is room for every genre and every kind of band and musician.