By Sandra Porto
Singer Andria Antoniou has transformed the way she works. From performing virtual gigs and recording at home to launching a music video, we found out how she keeps creative and inspired during lockdown.
The first time I saw Andria Antoniou on stage, I was in awe. Emerging powerfully and yet delicately form a unsuspecting setting, her silk-like voice embraced us all in the small and intimate venue, making it an unforgettable experience – it felt like being inside a sensual musical bubble, if you can ever picture one.
The memory remained firmly secured in my mind and, as soon as we started The File Style project to document creatives during lockdown and discuss identity, inspiration and style, Andria was top of the list.
Born of a Cypriot father and Finnish/Swedish mother, the singer, musician and vocal coach grew up in a musical family – her sister and brother are also musicians. Starting with piano lessons at the age of six, she had a classical training and then gradually transitioned into modern styles of music.
Relocating to London a decade ago to study, Andria has made the Capital her home. It was in the UK that she further widened her styles taking up jazz and Latin: one occasion led to another and Andria is now a present artist in the Latin-jazz and Greek music scenes in London.
Diversity is a trademark in Andria’s work and she performs different styles in various languages including Spanish and Portuguese, which we can personally attest, she executes flawlessly. Intrigued by the story behind this rich repertoire, we discussed one of her creative experiences during a work trip to Cuba: “Cuba was a fascination of mine since I was a little girl. The Salsa dancing, the music, the cars, the cigars, the music… Everything… Going there and experiencing it in real life was perhaps the most memorable experience I’ve had in my life so far. It was amazing.”
The trip was part of a collaboration with Classico Latino, a project to record their album ‘Havana Classic’. There, Andria also worked with local Cuban musicians, which was the highlight of the trip: “Just seeing how they experience music, how they perform with their whole bodies – they’re so joyful when they play. They breathe in life and breath out all the struggles, the poverty and the difficulties that you can see in Cuba – it’s really apparent and you can see it. When I saw them performing, it became really clear to me that music was a way for them to survive. It’s their safety haven. Music was in every corner, people were dancing; and the architecture and colours brings this feeling of sweet nostalgia… It’s absolutely beautiful.”
Whilst the experience was woven into Andria’s tapestry, she moved on to form other collaborations and has since launched an album herself. “Encuentro”, a partnership with musician Roman Gomez, is every inch the sensual musical trip that we experienced live in that cosy London venue.
Of course, things are very different now and we can no longer enjoy live experiences for the time being. Bringing the topic to a reality now affecting all of us with the pandemic, we asked Andria how it has affected her work: “It has affected us in every possible way… All concerts are cancelled since March but, luckily, I’m able to teach online and have done so with the majority of my students.”
She has also innovated to deliver virtual concerts. Her very first was a pre-recorded performance exclusively broadcast to residents of a care home in London and there are a couple more in the pipeline. Making the most of her free time, Andria has expanded the ways in which to be creative: “Creatively, it has been a really active and productive period. There’s more time to do things.”
This includes finishing her very first music video for the song ‘La Negra’, part of the ‘Encuentro’ album. Filming took place in February, just before lockdown started: “We were so lucky we got that filmed then. With our creative team spread in different parts of the world – in Greece, the UK and Cyprus – we managed to make it happen. It was a completely new experience to me and I’m very happy with the result. It’s our first video clip and it happened under quarantine!”
Delving into research and acquiring new skills are now incorporated into Andria’s ‘new normal’: “To me, it was playing the guitar: I didn’t have the time before and I’m now working on it. Learning how to record at home is also something I’m learning with the help of one of my collaborators Pavlos Carvalho. We started doing some home recordings, released one and will release another in the next few weeks.”
Discussing the effects the pandemic has had in all of us and how she keeps herself motivated and inspired, Andria acknowledges that there are moments of ups and downs but she actively seeks elements that energise and inspire her: “For me what keeps me inspired is being close to nature, noticing the beauty around me. Beauty is perhaps the most important thing, though we may interpret it differently. It can be a beautiful painting or a beautiful song, a beautiful tree…
“Lately, I have become obsessed with vinyls. It’s a beautiful experience because you’re just sitting down, you don’t skip any track and listen to full albums from beginning to end, immersing in the mind of the artist. You don’t have the need to react to it as we do in the social media… You just sit there with your senses and enjoy the music. That’s really inspiring.
“I also believe in keeping yourself active, growing and learning are very important elements to being inspired. I believe identity and inspiration are connected. One feeds the other. So I think the more time we spend with ourselves, trying to be inspired, trying to understand what we feel we need as human beings, as artists, that leads us to being truer to ourselves and closer to our needs and our identity.”
Andria’s latest album ‘Encuentro’, in collaboration with Roman Gomez is now available to stream, download or buy. For more information and links, visit > andriaantoniou.com