Alt-pop band Valley may have initially met by accident, but their uplifting sound and happy music make it feel like they were always meant to be together.
They say that when you meet the person that’s meant for you, it’s destiny and not just a chance encounter. For Toronto-based band Valley, it’s safe to say that this notion applies to them, given just how good their music is. Comprised of Rob Laska, Karah James, Mickey Brandolino, and Alex DiMauro, the group was initially in two different bands, with Karah and Mickey being a duo and Alex and Rob being in another. In 2014, a sound engineer by the name of Steve Kirstein accidentally booked both groups at the same time for the studio. One thing led to another, and their chance encounter led them to combine to form the rising alternative-pop band that is Valley.
Ever since then, the group has been on a steady ascent in popularity with their catalog of mood booster songs. Releasing bop after bop like the upbeat Tempo, the addicting and viral Like 1999, the introspective Society, and their latest release Oh shit…are we in love, their very first love song, Valley has been mesmerizing more and more listeners as the years go by. Along the way, they have also released the EP This Room Is White (2016), the full-length debut MAYBE (2019), and their last EP, sucks to see you doing better (2020).
Their acclaim and attention have even landed the band a 2020 JUNO Award nomination for “Breakthrough Group of the Year” and featured as Apple Music’s Up Next artist for Canada in September. Now the group is set to release their latest EP, Last Birthday, on October 1 and go on tour as well in the US and Canada. Ahead of Valley’s upcoming EP release, NYLON Manila talked with the alt-pop group to discuss their new music, their style, and what their music-making process is like.
VALLEY’S SOUND, AS DESCRIBED BY THE BAND
If you haven’t heard of who Valley is before, the group makes alt-pop songs that can be both up-tempo and groovy to more acoustic-driven tracks. For the band though, they would describe their style and sound as “fizzy, nostalgic, pop music.” As they explain, “It’s often music about the past. Not always, but we like to do that. And it’s just got that summery sweet nostalgic fizz. It’s like a sour candy that turns sweet.” The band adds that they also like to incorporate elements of both the past and future into their sounds, to make it something that either sounds fresh or classic. “We always want to either be fresh or totally classic. So, it’s a blend in the past and the future.”
For a band that initially met each other by accident and were part of different groups, their style blends exceptionally well. While their initial formation could have led to possible tension, they say that their sound came naturally to them. “We’ve developed a lot as a band. We’ve been doing it for about seven years now. And yeah, it’s there’s never one day where we decided we’re gonna sound like this or like, like a or b, or whatever. At the end of the day, you know, seven years later, we finally have like a sound that’s very much our own. It was always just kind of picking up things along the way. And I think we’ll do that forever. We’re just going to pick up new things constantly, kind of revolve around our sound, but it always kind of feels like us, which is important.”
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Given how Valley likes to pull from different genres and sounds and make it their own, it’s no surprise then that the group has a varied list of musical inspirations. On one end, they say that Fleetwood Mac has been a big source of musical inspiration for them. On the other, they also say Mowtown, Clairo, John Mayer, Kacey Musgraves, and a bevy of pop artists like One Direction, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Coldplay have inspired their sound in one way or another.
Whenever you listen to a Valley track, you can tell that the band really gave their song the love and attention they deserve. Not saying that other artists don’t do this, but there is a sense of personal care that you feel in each song. According to the group, when it comes to making their music, the process is never the same. “There’s some constants like I think the one constant is that we will mostly just bring like a fully finished song to the band. It starts from like one little spark that turns into a chorus that turns into a verse that turns into a bridge and you know, we’re always experimenting new ways that can like excite us in the writing stages.”
So, how then does Valley know whether or not they have a good lyric on their hands? For them, it all has to do with the feeling. “It depends on whether it just feels right or it doesn’t. And then you also pick up tips along the way from other writers and other songs you listen to analyzing like why something you know made you feel so strongly and then you go Oh, it’s because it was you know, it had a double meaning to it and it was a play on words or whatever. But you kind of pick up all those little things along the way and then eventually it really just comes down to taste and what you think is good and what you think is bad.”
At the end of the day, the band says that it all comes down to the listener to decide whether or not they can relate to the song as they can only guess to a certain extent whether the lyric is good or not. But given how more and more people are listening to Valley as the months go by, they seem to be winning in that department.
Valley’s seven-track EP, Last Birthday, comes out this October 1. To see the full list of Valley’s tour dates as well as to buy tickets, check out their website.