Andreya Triana is a singer and songwriter experimenting on the borders of jazz, folk, soul and leftfield dance and hip hop.
Her collaborators read like a who’s-who of underground dance royalty, with the likes of Bonobo, Mr Scruff, Theo Parrish and Flying Lotus all having enlisted her talent. Andreya’s debut album Lost Where I Belong was released on August 23.
What inspired you to start making music?
I was just one of those natural performing little kids that loved singing. Music moved me at a really young age – I absorbed it and wanted to experiment. My mum also really encouraged me and growing up in South London, there were always a sound system blaring.
What was the first song you wrote?
I started writing poetry at a really young age – about 6 or 7. I remember writing a song about a boy I had a massive crush on when I was about 8, called The Boy – it was awful, but not bad for an 8 year old!
Do you have a particular approach to songwriting?
I don’t have a music theory background, I’m not classically trained and I haven’t had singing lessons, I come from an improvisational background. The main thing I stick to is “keep it simple”. I’m not a perfectionist, I try and get in the moment and be honest.
How do you put your songs together?
I predominately write using a guitar – it’s my partner in crime. I’ll have some chords that I keep going around, then put the melody over the top before fitting the words to it. I have a book that I carry around with me – if I see or hear something in a conversation I just put it in the book and I get inspiration from there. When it comes to working with Bonobo he’ll have an idea or a beat and we’ll just go from there.
What song do you wish you’d written?
I think it has to be I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know by Donny Hathaway. It’s the most incredible love song I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s so simple and so cutting, it brings tears every time, so that’s the song I wish I had written.
How did your collaborations with Bonobo come about?
We started working together three or four years ago after meeting at the Red Bull Music Academy in Australia. I’d done a track that he really liked and we had a lot of friends in common at the Academy. He needed a singer for a gig and our mutual friends said ‘oh Andreya can do it!’ It was never an orchestrated thing, he’s a mate, I like his music so we went into the studio to see what happened. Four years later we’ve toured the world, he’s produced my album and I feature quite heavily on his, so it worked out alright!
Can you tell us about your best live gig experience?
This year it’s been playing with Flying Lotus’ band called Infinity that has his cousin Robbie Coltrane – who is Alice and John Coltrane’s son and an incredible harp player, the bass player plays with Erykah Badu and Snoop Dogg. They play this amazing far-out futuristic space-jazz mixed with glitchy hip hop. We did a gig at the ICA in London and it was next level – the sound and vibe of it, a really special gig. I’ll remember it for years.
How did you come to work with Flying Lotus?
Again, he was at the Red Bull Academy in 2006 on the same term as me. Everybody was collaborating. I did loads of collaborations and the track Tea Leaf Dancers came out of that – it has been one of his biggest songs so far. Later down the line he remixed my first single to return the favour.
What’s next for Andreya Triana?
The album has just come out in America, I’m touring Europe with my band in October, the States with Bonobo’s band in November and then back to Europe with them in December. After that I’ll need some creative time to crack on with my second album. I started writing it already.
Who would be your dream collaborator?
I’d really like to work with Dangermouse, his Gnarls Barkley stuff transcended any kind of genre and is incredible. I’d also like to work with Bjork – she’d probably be crazy but I really admire her a lot.
There’s a song on your album called A Town Called Obsolete. What’s it about?
It’s just a metaphor for things coming from nowhere. I wrote it at a time when I was really frustrated with how things were going. The meaning of the song is if you just leave it alone, put it down, it’ll happen.
Can you tell us more about the album’s title song Lost Where I Belong?
It’s about my journey, trying to find my creative identity – I still am and I guess always will be. It’s accepting that what I want to do comes with its challenges.
Having said that, I want people to interpret the songs in their own way, for example someone said the other day about my song Daydreamers: ‘is it about this old stripper that works in a bar and they’ve come home late and they’re feeling like this…?’ and I’m like: ‘what the?!’. It’s very interesting to find out how people interpret songs, and quite amusing.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’ve always been a big fan of Martina Topley-Bird – a fantastic singer-songwriter. Also James McMorrow, people with fantastic voices that can strip it down and keep it low-key and amazing songwriters. They’re the people inspiring me at the moment.