From the band who gave us ‘hiccup’(s) and that butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling, we interviewed Canadian indie pop band VALLEY to ask them more about their music, and that unique VALLEY sound.
Lit colours and groovy tunes form the basis of Canadian indie band VALLEY’s songs – with that lyrical touch and “je ne sais quoi” carousel of emotions that go with it.
The band have established themselves as building a safe-space for listeners to embrace when they’re feeling alone during dark times of lingering negativity and struggles with apathy, using their voices to help Gen-Z normalize much-needed conversations about mental health.
Comprising members Rob Laska on vocals, Michael Brandolino on guitar, Alex Dimauro on bass and Karah James on drums, the group was formed in 2014 after the members of two other bands, Cars & Guitars and National Parks, met and decided to unite when they accidentally got double-booked for the same time slot at a local recording studio.
Since then, this indie-rock band have amassed nearly 49 million streams on Spotify alone for their self-written and self-produced music. Their most popular song ‘There’s Still A Light in The House’ has had over 15 million streams on Spotify alone.
In 2019, the band shared the stage with The Lennon Stella and The Band Camino as opening acts in both respective tours. They were also nominated for a Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year in June 2020.
Recently, the band released their new EP sucks to see you doing better – a lit collection of nostalgic pop-ish songs, two of which have achieved about a million streams each on Spotify.
We spoke to the members of VALLEY about their music.
AL365: Hi VALLEY, Vanessa here from Asialive365. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. We are loving the new EP so much. The title track is so lit!! What’s the story behind its conceptualisation and why the title ‘sucks to see you doing better’?
VALLEY: Our pleasure Vanessa! So stoked you like the EP!! Funny story about the title…but when we first got signed to our current record deal, a lot of us were still working part-time jobs. Rob was working a shift at Starbucks and a high school ex-girlfriend rolled up to Starbucks in a fancy sports car and went to the counter to order a drink. Rob ran and hid in the back to avoid her and watched the security camera feed until she left the store to avoid the embarrassment of explaining that the ‘rockstar’ life isn’t exactly like the movies. We wrote the song ‘sucks to see you doing better’ about that specific experience he had but also about the general narrative of comparison and feeling like everyone has their life together except for you, and that feeling kinda just sucks a lot.
AL365: The music video to ‘hiccup’ looks like such fun, though we hope no guitars were harmed in the process. 😉 What was it like filming this MV and knowing how popular skate parks can get, did you guys have to book like the entire skate park for this?
VALLEY: It was so much fun, and probably one of the most positive experiences we’ve had together as a band. We actually shot at the skatepark at 5:30am-9am in the morning for 2 days and that’s how we got the place to ourselves! The video creators Oliver-Whitfield Smith and Shady Hanna are so incredible to work with, they are masters at making good art from simple concepts and a minimalistic approach.
AL365: Speaking of skateparks, who would you say is a better skateboarder – Karah or Michael?
VALLEY: Definitely Mickey! Skateboarding was a big part of Mickey’s child/teenhood and we’ve always wanted to incorporate that into the narrative of the band. Prior to shooting the music video, Mickey taught us some skate moves so we wouldn’t look completely ridiculous!
AL365: VALLEY is such a cool name for a band. Tell us more about how Valley was formed? We understand that it was a chance meeting because the venue was double-booked?
VALLEY: VALLEY was formed when the four of us were double booked at a studio. Mickey and Karah were in a duo recording a new song, and Rob and Alex were just jamming in the live room trying to figure out the next steps for them as their high school band dissolved. The engineer realized that he had double booked the sessions accidentally and we all just hit it off and a few weeks later we formed a band. The name just felt right to us- an all encompassing, symmetrically spelt, simple word that we would make our own.
AL365: ‘There’s Still A Light In The House’ is a popular song with over 15 million streams to date. We love the feel of this song, and the visual treatment on the MV. If you could pick a song to introduce the Valley sound to a new listener for the first time, would it be this song? Or would it be another song?
VALLEY: I think ‘There’s Still a Light in the House’ is a good representation of the band and would definitely encourage a new listener to blast that song if they were just getting into the band! I think ‘homebody’ is also a good introduction; I feel like it checks all of the boxes for a quintessential VALLEY song.
AL365: We love how your songs feel so fresh, yet exude such happy nostalgia. Almost like a Hipstamatic photo or moment. We are also sensing some 1975-like colours in some of your songs. Without using any labels such as indie pop, indie rock, pop, dream pop, how would you describe your music/sound in one sentence?
VALLEY: I think our sound is multidimensional simply because the human experience is multidimensional. People are never just one thing, we are always changing as our world changes around us. If the human experience is a sound, then that’s what I think this band sounds like.
AL365: What type of music or artists are you most influenced by?
VALLEY: The type of artists that we’re influenced by are the ones that have depth, honesty and authenticity to them like Billie Eillish, Clairo, Fleetwood Mac, Babygirl, Mura Masa, ABBA, Jaden, Dominic Fike and the list goes on and on!
AL365: Besides the release of the new EP, what’s in the pipeline for VALLEY right now?
VALLEY: We have been in the rehearsal studio hashing away at the new songs and brushing up on old ones for some potential livestreams in the near future, but also just manifesting our live chops so that maybe just maybe the universe will let us get back to shows sooner than later!
AL365: You guys have been around for six years now. How do you see yourself evolving sonically as a band in the next, say four years, before your 10th year anniversary?
VALLEY: Honestly, it’s really hard to say. I think the best answer I can give you is based on how I see our perspective changing over the next few years as we see more of the world and are lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet musicians we respect, and hear their stories, hear fans stories and ultimately continue to practice the art of learning. I think the more open we can keep our minds and hearts open (not to be cheesy) then the more life has to offer for us and the more we can continue to translate that experience into our music.
AL365: What do you miss most about touring and performing live?
VALLEY: The camaraderie of the road is like no other – it’s kind of like summer camp, where you’re all just going through it together and seeing a lot of “firsts” that you can bond over. I miss connecting with fans and hearing people scream the words of their favourite Valley song while hugging and dancing with their friends all in a sweaty, explosively loud, chaotic venue. But is there really anything better?
AL365: Any chance for a tour to Asia one day?
VALLEY: There’s no doubt that we’ll be making our way over to Asia as soon as we have the ability to. We know we have some really valued fans over there and it would warm our hearts to be able to put faces to names and scream at the top of our lungs together at a show.
ASL365: Is there anything else that you like to say to your fans and our readers out there?
VALLEY: We want to thank everyone for letting us share our experiences with you and you welcoming it with open arms. We pinch ourselves knowing that we have fans thousands of miles away that invest so much of their day into listening to our music and diving into the ethos of the band, we’re so grateful for y’all, we know it won’t be long before we get to rock out with you at a show!
AL365: Thanks again VALLEY and we hope to see you in Singapore in the not too distant future!
Listen to their new EP below!