Indie-alternative-pop band Valley is not to be missed for fans of pop music. Pulling influences from all different genres of music, the Toronto, ON natives are on their way to becoming a staple in the pop music sphere. Their music is for fans of bands like LANY and Bleachers – fun electrifying pop songs with moody lyrics and nostalgic undertones. We sat down with Rob, Alex, Karah, and Mike to talk about the band’s history, their influences, and the recording process for their debut project Maybe.
BTS: Can you tell us how you got started making music?
ROB: All of us grew up one town apart in the suburbs of Toronto, ON. Alex and I went to high school together, Kara and Mike went to high school together. We were all playing in bands and taking music lessons from early ages, our parents were really supportive. We did that for a long time, which lead to us being double booked at a studio as separate entities, and listening to each other’s music and deciding that we should just become a band. Before you know it, we were a band!
BTS: How long have you been together then?
ROB: We met six years ago, but on paper as Valley, 4 years.
BTS: Who are some of your biggest influences?
ALEX: I would say, Coldplay and Fleetwood Mac.
ROB: For me it would be The 1975 and ELO.
MIKE: Um, that’s a hard question. Maybe all of Motown and John Mayer.
KARAH: You guys took all the good ones! For the band, a lot of jazz records and for songwriting maybe Baby Girl? They’re this awesome band out of Toronto that everyone should look up.
BTS: How would you describe your music for someone who hasn’t heard it before?
ROB: I think it’s like anthemic, gradual build, soft yet smacks. I don’t know. It’s anthemic but it has a lot of drops. It’s always very nostalgic, we always write from a “looking back” perspective. Definitely anthemic, yet soft.
BTS: Yeah, that’s pretty accurate.
KARAH: It’s pretty cinematic I’d say.
ROB: It’s very juxtaposed. It’s very soft but feels really big.
BTS: Last year you guys released MAYBE- SIDE A, and you released it’s companion piece, MAYBE – SIDE B earlier this summer, can you talk about how the process for recording those differed?
KARAH: Well it was actually done all at the same time. Honestly, as a project it’s been done since early 2018. We’re still releasing songs that have been done for almost two years now. We just decided to split it the way we did after the recording process, but everything was done at the same time. Songs that were on Side C and Side B were songs that may have been done before songs on Side A, we split it up based on moods. Side A is kind of for driving and being in your car. Side B was more for sitting alone in your room.
MIKE: Together, the still flow very well. When the deluxe (Side C) comes out in a few days, which will be everything from Side A and Side B plus more songs and some more deluxe-y songs, it’s still going to feel like you’re listening to one record cohesively.
ROB: It was all intensional. The selective process was different. It was more about organizing it by moods like “oh this would be better for daytime, this would be better for nighttime”.
BTS: Why did you decide to split it up like that?
KARAH: Initially, it wasn’t our idea. Our A&R at our label came up with the idea.
MIKE: I think it worked out really well though. At first, we were a little uncomfortable with the idea. We understood it, but artistically it didn’t sit right. But it kind of worked out really well because first off, releasing 15 songs in this day and age is so much to consume. Releasing it 6 songs at a time and then looking back on it as one body of work, you kind of get both. It gave every song the opportunity to shine. That way, fans could find it, learn it, indulge in it, learn it inside-out, and then you get Side B. So that way, there was always something to look forward to. But it’s all of that along with pairing it with a tour or a new release. There are all these things to pair it with and so it’s just a year straight of new music and new things for our fans to look forward to.
ROB: 15-16 songs these days is a mouthful. People drop those albums all the time and as a consumer, it takes me a really long time to get into every song and get through the record. It gives our fans and ourselves space to breathe and enjoy every song and aspect of the release before moving onto the next part.
MIKE: Yeah, we really didn’t want to oversaturate people. I’m always finding a new artist every week that I love, but I only have a certain amount of time to really indulge in that artist and their music before another artist comes along.
BTS: Is there one overall story you’re trying to tell across the project?
MIKE: It’s more of a theme I think.
ROB: Like we said, the two parts differ in a lot of ways. Side A was more was listening and had a much bigger sound and a lot of transitions and that kind of thing. Then Side B is more laying on your bedroom floor, down-tempo vibe. It just made sense to release it second because Side A had a whole “we’re here” vibe to it, so it was a good introduction to the band, versus Side B which is a little heavier and rooted in home.
BTS: Was there a song on the project overall that was the most difficult for you to finish?
MIKE: “Park Bench” was impossible to finish.
ROB: For literally so long “Park Bench” was nothing. I was in McCaren Park in Brooklyn, NY and I have this app on my phone for recording sounds and I just started making these weird sounds into my phone, and then I pitched it and that became the intro of the song. We had that and the first verse for literally 2 years.
MIKE: It was so slow getting it together. The tempo was also a lot slower originally, it was like 10 BPMs slower or something.
ROB: Yeah! We got our dear friend Andy to come up and produce the album with us, and he helped us start stitching it together. I remember he added these drums and he added this 808 beat that totally changed everything. I think we had a million different versions of where it could go. It was almost impossible, but every song is so different, because then there are songs like “Namedropper” that came together in one night.
MIKE: I think it just took a long time because it’s a weird song. It doesn’t really follow a typical formula for a song. When you have a song that’s 120 BPM, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, whatever it’s still a great song but it’s sort of self explanatory. Whereas “Park Bench” was so complicated from the start, you don’t really want it fitting into that formula. You need to experiment and just be like “ok, let’s not have a chorus, let’s just have a drop” or something. There were so many options because we just decided that there were no boundaries with the song. Halfway through we just got bored and decided to make it double time and so we just had to experiment for a really long time in order for the song to find its place.
BTS: You guys just kicked off tour supporting The Band CAMINO, how’s that going so far?
ROB: Really good. We’re 4 shows in. The first few nights were obviously the first nights of tour, so we were still kind of working out the kinks and getting back into the groove of performing and touring. Like our first show of the tour, we were playing in front of 1500 people and I kind of forgot how to be confident and that you have to project that confidence on stage while you’re performing. The team and crew have been amazing. I think the Camino boys don’t get enough credit for how kind they are. You can tell they’ve worked so hard and hustled for years. You can see how thankful they are for being in the position they’re in.
BTS: What’s your favorite part about being on tour and performing?
ALEX: I live for the moment when you walk on stage to people screaming. We have this little intro that we play and the anticipation and then walking out on stage is literally the best feeling in the world. You start playing the first song and there’s nothing in life that will ever replace that feeling.
ROB: For me, that’s one of my favorite things. I also love meeting the fans and hearing their stories about how our music has translated and affected their lives is so cool. I also love eating different food and trying something new everywhere we go.
MIKE: My favorite part of touring and performing, um. I love the end of our set. We close with “Park Bench” and the end of the set is one of my favorite parts of the set. I’m so exhausted but I get to put that last bit of energy in and give it everything I’ve got. I do love meeting the fans as well because there are so many cool stories and interesting people that we meet every night. It always validates and reminds you why making music is so important. When people come up to us and say “this song got me through the hardest summer of my life” or whatever and you just forget that your music could be making a different in someone’s life because you’re so caught up in it. We just made these songs in a basement in a suburb in Canada, so to be in a place like New York, or Memphis and have someone come up to us and say the song made a difference in their life is crazy. Sometimes you feel selfish and egotistical, you can kind of get in your head about it and it feels like you’re not really doing anything for the world, but those moments really ground you and remind you that there’s a purpose for what you’re doing. Like John Mayer changed my life and we have the potential to do that for someone now too, so that’s really one of the best and craziest parts of touring. Ok, now I’m done rambling – what about you Kara?
KARAH: Playing drums and meeting fans for sure.
BTS: What can fans expect from you for the rest of the year?
ROB: The deluxe edition of Maybe drops on September 17th, which officially closes the release cycle of the Maybe project. So that album will be done and out for good. It’s still new for everyone every day, so we’re gonna let that roll. Obviously, we’re going to finish this tour with the Camino boys. In November, we’re going to be going to L.A. to start writing the next set of songs for our next project. We’re not calling it an album because we’re not sure what we want to do next. After November, we’re probably going to record some more music, and then maybe a tour in the spring next year! Maybe maybe maybe. We’re not planning on stopping, pretty sure we’re aiming to go on tour early next year. Also, new music as soon as possible. Fans were so patient with us when it came to Maybe, so we want to get good, new music as soon as possible. We’re really just going based on what we feel as right and not focus on the planning aspect of it as much. We’re trying to focus on more a 5-6 month plan rather than a 1-2 year plan.
MIKE: Yeah, that just works better for us. How people listen and consume music now is different from how they’ll listen and consume music a year from now.
ROB: Exactly. We’re just trying to focus on things more short term. So people can follow us on our social media or check our website to see what we have coming up.