Fusing her synesthesia with haunting melodies and electric mysticism, Ana De Llor is captivating everyone who will listen. Her heartfelt vocals and thundering rhythms create melodramatic and multi-layered songs. Her second single ‘Penelope’ is a raucous affair full of serpentine synths and driving drums. We sat down with Ana De Llor (ADL) to talk about her latest single, creative process, music and much more!
OSR: Who or what influenced you to get into the music industry?
ADL: That can be very hard to explain because at this moment in life I cannot really see myself doing anything else. Maybe trying to summarize my path up to today it will make it easier?
I have always been the ‘artistic’ kid while growing up, and music was always present around me. I would spend my life creating and I absolutely loved being on stage as a child. I’ve spent my life studying Arts, drawing and painting, and eventually, it led to photography. While the passion for music kept growing, I would write songs and sing a lot on my own and, at the same time, I started doing photography for musicians.
Nothing else made me feel like music does, and nothing had the same level of spotlight on my dreams. I realized I needed to put everything else on standby to focus solely on my music, and I’ve been doing it ever since. To be honest, nothing else would make sense.
OSR: How did you choose your musical genre?
ADL: I wouldn’t say it was a choice. My work is definitely the fruit of all the musicians and different genres I grew up listening to, which were a lot. Hopefully, this ended up creating a new sound for myself.
OSR: Has COVID-19 affected your music making in any way?
ADL: It delayed the release, but that ended up being a positive note as it gave me time to focus on that process. Luckily, I was able to finish some of the recording while in lockdown and the incredible singers who sang the backing vocals for ‘Penelope’ (Ashild Haugen and Sanna Akanni) recorded it
OSR: What is the story behind ‘Penelope’?
ADL: ‘Penelope’ is a song about grieving a relationship and about the process of growing through it by self-discovery and sexual liberation. I wrote this song with the intent of talking about it as a metaphor, with the idea that a memory of someone can become a stain and you want to have it removed from you and to hit refresh on your life. In ‘Penelope’, I talk about getting rid of that stain by washing it away with other people’s sweat and in the music video I refer to it in the imagery. Being a sexual person, to feel good about expressing your sexuality, or even to use it as a way to heal yourself, is still many times seen as unbecoming when it comes from a woman. Men are typically encouraged and glorified when they express their own.
So this song is both an affirmation and a rebellion against these double standards that are held upon us all our lives. The name Penelope was inspired by the Odyssey, where she was expected to turn down any suitors that came onto her while her husband was away on an indefinite journey that amounted to 20 years in the end. On this journey, he was with all sorts of Goddesses, nymphs and women and Penelope just waits. She usually represents patience and fidelity, and I honestly am tired of all these female characters we grew up with being represented as a one-sided person, always devoting themselves to others and not ever putting themselves first. So I imagined a world where she would do the opposite and prioritise herself.
OSR: Which famous musicians do you admire?
ADL: James Blake, Moses Sumney, Maria Jose Llergo, Arca, Rosalia, BANKS, Bjork, and a lot, lot, lot more.
OSR: What was your creative process when creating ‘Penelope’?
ADL: Funny enough this song started after a night out. My friend (and producer Agon Branza) and I decided to make a beat and very quickly a melody line came to my mind, the synth that doubles the voice melody throughout the song. We’ve been working on it slowly while I finished other songs and when I was finally available to work on it full-on, it was amazing. It’s a great feeling when you are working on your true sound. Which may sound weird but it is something that takes time and growth. Penelope really reflects the type of sound and influences I want to have on my music.
Agon and I work very well together and we kind of read each other’s mind when it comes to sounds because we do have very similar tastes. So in all, the process was just very exciting. I’ve been using and taking a lot of inspiration from my Portuguese roots and putting it into my music. So in this song, the beat that you hear, was made by using a traditional Portuguese frame drum called adufe. All my melodies and beats have a reference to my roots, the melody I sing on ’Penelope’ was inspired by folk melodies I grew up listening to during my summers in the villages where my family is from. It comes naturally to me, and I try to blend them with the kind of modern and dark production I’m using.
Agon Branza, who produced ‘Penelope’ and with whom I co-wrote it, is also Portuguese. So the process made a lot of sense to both of us and we bounced ideas from each other to make sure it would be as faithful as possible to such a beautiful and meaningful reference.
I released an extended version of ’Penelope’ on 10 July, which includes a Portuguese intro. This was actually the bit of the song that came first lyric-wise. You can also listen to it on the music video that was released.
OSR: What is your favourite and least favourite aspect of being a musician?
ADL: As with any type of creative work, some parts of the process can become very lonely, but the best part is definitely creating with other people, sharing the final work and realising the impact it might have on the audience.
OSR: If you could date any other musician, who would it be and why?
ADL: As I don’t actually know them in person, and I don’t tend to date people I don’t know, I would say I’ll leave this to your imagination.
OSR: Do you feel you could get any better as a musician? If so, how would you achieve that?
ADL: We can always grow, and only by being open to it we’ll be able to do so. I don’t believe my growth as an artist has stopped in any way, and I hope it never does.
OSR: If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
ADL: Thank you so much for all the support so far, and for all the overwhelming love and kind messages that have been sent to me. It truly means the world and it is definitely a big boost in my motivation into bringing you more new music.