L.A. WEEKLY: Bit of background first— when did you start singing, writing and performing, and when did it get serious?
LOYAL LOBOS: I remember writing my first song when I was like 5 years old. I have this vivid memory of sitting in my bathroom on my (closed) toilet and playing a bunch of nonsense and my mom writing it down for me because I couldn’t write very well yet. I was playing my dad’s guitar at the time and it was taller than me, but I would still play it at every talent show my school had. From then on I kept writing just for myself. Then when I was 12 or 13 I remember I sent one of my songs to my friend because she was going through a break up (very dramatic thing for a 13 year old) and I recorded the song on the voice note application on my green Dell computer and made her swear to me that she would not send it to anyone.
Somehow a week later the song was on Limewire and played in my school through the big speakers and I felt so exposed and anxious, I wanted to dig a hole and hide forever. Which is basically how I still feel every time I release a song. Besides talent shows, I used to sing at every school funeral and that was my most recurring experience of “performing.” My grandma used to sneak into any funeral she could to see me sing the Ave Maria by Schubert. Then in L.A. I went from funerals to Starbucks coffee shops which sucked, but I was also so excited for each one of those gigs and I would rehearse a lot and even prepare what I was going to say. I would basically have to beg them to let me play and it was a month long waiting list to get on the bill. It’s weird because I remember always being so nervous, even at my last show in February. And now that COVID happened I long for being able to perform again and I feel so dumb for letting anxiety intrude those moments.
When and why did you arrive here from Colombia?
I came here when I was about to turn 19 years old. I had never been to L.A. before, I didn’t know anyone here, and I was horrified by how big the city was the moment I saw it from the plane. I really just moved here because the school I got my visa through was the first one to respond and less expensive than Berklee. I mostly just wanted to leave and go anywhere as quickly as possible because I had just graduated high school and wanted to start my own life and make music. I was so lucky because it is so expensive to get a student visa in the U.S. and right when I graduated high school my mom had just received some money that she was able to keep in an account for long enough to prove to the U.S. we had funds before it all went to mortgages and expenses.
Describe your sound…
Honestly, I find that very hard to answer! I always feel unfulfilled by every answer I give so I’m just not going there anymore.
Where did the name Loyal Lobos come from?
It was just two words my friend said that sounded cool to me and the moment he said it I felt like it was me- I don’t know why. I tried to make sense of it later with metaphors and poetic explanations but it was just my friend Kenny’s idea. But since then, I keep getting wolf references on tarot readings and finding symbolisms of femininity and strength from wolf tales and I really love that. I guess my experience with being a woman had some scarring from shame and pain and the she-wolf concept has been empowering and helped me see sensuality and femininity with different eyes.
Are you pleased with the way the debut album has turned out? Is there a theme/concept to it?
Yes of course. I wouldn’t have waited two years to be able to put it out if I wasn’t. Or wouldn’t still be pursuing this career if there wasn’t a purpose to it because you make no money and eat a bunch of shit. There is no theme for the album, I just focused on one body of work and wrote all the songs for it but I wasn’t going for a theme or a concept prior to making it.
Is the “Si Te Portas Mal” single representative of the vibe on the album?
I don’t think there’s a “vibe” to the album, it’s mostly a compilation of songs and I think because of them being made during the same time they can share a common sonic aesthetic, but they are also all very different from each other because they come from different places of emotion. “Si Te Portas Mal” was a late addition to the album so I can hear it sitting on a different sound landscape but I think every song represents the album.
What else do you have planned for 2020?
For now, survive it. I guess I’ll make plans for 2021 soon though.
“Si Te Portas Mal (Be Bad)” is out now.