Born in the UK, Silvas’ biggest success has been in Europe during the early and mid-2000s. In 2007, Mercury Records dropped her from their label after her album didn’t chart. Since then, she moved to Nashville and embarked upon a new sound, recently recording and self-releasing her third album.
Opening for Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots,
with Lindsay Ell
7 p.m. Friday, Tulsa
Silvas will perform an opening acoustic set Friday at Cain’s. No stranger to the stage, Silvas has held her own alongside Elton John, Kacey Musgraves, Little Big Town and James Bay while fine-tuning her own style.
“Every artist is different and has something to offer,” said Silvas recently via email. “I never tried to be like anybody else. I wanted to just be the best version of myself and learn from those artists — but not change to suit them, or copy them. I think the more intimidated or challenged you are, the bigger the opportunity to stay true to yourself and strong in your own identity.”
Silvas shares more of her road-tested performance wisdom in the following Q and A.
(Editor’s Note: Responses have been lightly edited for style and grammar.)
Your latest album, Letters to Ghosts, has changed a lot from previous work, bringing out some serious soul mixed with a little torment. What is your intent in this new direction — your motivations and desired results?
Thank you! I guess a lot of time has passed, and I’ve had different life experiences, so I’m bound to change and therefore my music changed, too. I feel a sense of fearlessness now that I didn’t really have before. I was so mixed up in the past and a bit lost, feeling like I couldn’t really say everything I wanted to say, for a few different reasons.
Sound-wise, I’m obviously influenced by my surroundings and the amazing artists I spend time with, but that’s mixed in with what I grew up listening to, and the way it still makes me feel. I love the truth behind a Jackie Wilson song, or a Fleetwood Mac song, or Roy Orbison, but I want the lyrics in my music to be the truth, and not just songs for the sake of it. It’s been a roller-coaster few years, both career-wise and personally, so there’s a lot to say, both light and dark.
And it’s nice to be able to tell my stories in a bare and honest way, but also in a fun, playful way with songs like How To Lose It All and Find a Way. We took it slow making this record and didn’t try to compare it to anything that was going on in the industry. We just trusted what we loved the sound of — and that’s why I love the way it sounds so much. It has a lot of different influences in there. I didn’t want to hold back on this album, and there’s still so much I wanna do. I already wanna start writing for the next album!
I know your writing is personal. What ghosts are you specifically holding on to? Does the song explicitly refer to a lost love, or is it something more?
Letters to Ghosts was about being caught in the middle of the past and future. It took me a long time to get over a past relationship that really dragged out in the way it ended, and meanwhile I was trying to move on with somebody new, and it was a battle for me. I felt like [I] signed a contract saying I could only love one time and I’d be forever tied to that, and anybody new would never get the full ticket! It was a tough time in my life I was referring to and the tug of war I went through with myself. I feel uplifted when I sing it, though, even though it’s kind of a torturous subject!
What does it mean to you to be an independent female artist in music?
It’s been a real collaborative effort. I couldn’t have done it all alone — even though I knew what I wanted. It was important to me, even through co-writing and co-producing, that I trusted my own opinion and went with what felt genuine to me. I had to learn to do what’s right for me. It’s not about being the best musician, or singer, in the room, or anything for that matter, but about not wavering in who you are, and taking on too many different opinions.
It’s not easy to be a solo female artist, as I feel there are often too many labels put on women too quickly. But I’m proud to see so many talented and strong women coming up who I think are strong role models and who are following their dreams, regardless of how hard this business can be.
I wanna show artists they can do so much by themselves, without necessarily an army behind you. The music can speak for itself. You have to keep going and be resourceful. I like women who aren’t afraid to say what they feel, who aren’t afraid to be judged. We see some amazing women like that around, and it helps me to stay on this road.