It all started off with talent, passion and YouTube covers.
Daniela Andrade, a Honduran-Canadian born in Montreal and raised in Edmonton, shared her distinctive musical voice across the video site, and her audience numbers started to grow and grow. Andrade’s covers of songs like Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy (among many, many others) eventually helped her follower count build.
Over time, Andrade began to write and record her own material, growing her fan base even further; she now has 1.9 million followers on YouTube. Recent songs like 2020’s Tamale and Polly Pocket — presented in captivating, almost hypnotic music videos — showcase the young artist’s growth and inventive approach to musical expression.
The young Canadian’s work has had (literal) commercial success as well, with her music being featured in numerous ads and TV shows, including Supergirl and Toronto-shot Suits.
Years after her YouTube start, Andrade, 27, is now the recipient of the Hi-Fidelity Award (supported by FACTOR), established to recognize recording artists who utilize music videos in innovative ways. Past winners of the award include Grimes (2018) and July Talk (2017). The award will be bestowed at the annual Prism Prize ceremony, which has gone virtual this year due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Global News spoke with Andrade about her Prism Prize win, how growing up in Canada shaped her and how she’s been coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
Global News: A lot of artists put out amazing videos, so to win the Hi-Fidelity Award means you really stand out. Does it have a special meaning for you?
Daniela Andrade: I consider myself to be a really visual person. Even when I’m in the studio and a song is coming together, it feels like second nature to begin to connect images to the sounds and lyrics. I often have a music video concept in my head by the time a song is finished. The Hi-Fidelity Award feels meaningful to receive as I always strive for my visuals to be synonymous with the music I make. I’m really grateful.
What videos/songs in particular are you most proud of?
Tamale and Genesis are especially important to me. Both represent two pivotal moments in my music, as Genesis was the first song I produced on my own. For the video, I initially had a trip to Honduras planned, but it had to be cancelled due to civil unrest. That led to redirecting the trip to Mexico, and it was the first time I had been back to Central America since I was 15 years old.
Shooting it mostly guerrilla (style) with Jeremy Comte wearing many hats — director, DOP (director of photography) with no additional crew other than a fixer — it made the experience even more intricate. I had to speak to and meet a lot of strangers and felt connected to my mother tongue, Spanish, in a brand-new way. Tamale almost felt full circle as it portrays a really important piece of my Honduran heritage growing up, making tamales with my mother and sisters. My mom would use the money from the sales to send back to our relatives in Honduras. So much of my beginnings as a child to immigrants is surrounded by food at the table. Bringing that concept to life with Justin Singer was so special to me.
How does Canada/being Canadian/your hometown inspire your work?
I grew up in Edmonton, Alta., which in retrospect seems like one of the most Canadian places to grow up in. I was surrounded by a lot of silence; there wasn’t much for me to do in Edmonton other than get into hobbies and procrastinate (on) schoolwork. I think that having grown up in that specific city shaped the way I interacted with my surroundings and music.
I was bent over learning the guitar for countless hours in my parents’ basement through the school year and summer, never feeling like I missed a thing. Every time I’ve gone back to visit Edmonton, it always confirms how much space I felt there was to think. I really wouldn’t change a thing about growing up there, good and bad. I also can’t imagine living in a place without winter. I love first snow.
Making it on YouTube, especially now, can be very tough. Can you talk a little about how you started and how you managed to be so successful?
I started my YouTube channel after filming myself on an old camera my dad had lying around. I remember thinking it was a really strange thing to watch myself back (this was before smartphones or my first laptop). I don’t exactly remember when my channel started to get traction, but when it did, I knew uploading was something that I wanted to consistently try and do. I can’t clearly speak to the success and why it happened the way it did, but from the start, there was a real sense of community.
I would treat my YouTube channel as a place where I could continually improve, either at playing guitar, learning to edit and sync videos on Adobe Premiere and later learning how to produce and layer on GarageBand.
With COVID-19, no artists are touring. How has the whole isolation experience been for you?
Isolation didn’t feel as tricky at first. I’ve been consistently reminded how human it is to process things differently from the person next to us through all of this. At first, I got a real deep dive of creativity. I had some shows lined up in 2020 — the first time I was gonna get on stage in nearly three years — which were obviously abruptly cancelled.
I thought I quickly accepted it and moved on only to realize I’d come to process it a little later. Understanding grief in all the small and big ways it presents itself in day to day has been big for me. I feel really grateful to be able to try and understand my feelings through music, that’s kind of always been an internal compass for me. If there’s anything, this pandemic has highlighted an internal world I was ignoring more times than I’d like to admit. There’s light and dark there, and it changes depending on the day. It’s a unique challenge to really listen to what’s going on inside and respect what it’s telling you.
What’s coming up next for you? What can we expect?
I’m continuing to write new music and plan to release a project in August.