Let me preface this interview by saying that I cannot get enough of In The Valley Below. I saw this Los Angeles band perform at this year’s SXSW and was immediately smitten, wrote them up as a Featured Artist here on the site, and it seems I’ve attracted our other writers to their sensory sounds as well.
I knew I had seen and heard something special, so I was excited to have a chance to ask the band some titillating questions about their beginnings, their single “Peaches,” and an eventual EP/LP, as well as where they recommend eating in LA. Check out what they had to say below!
I’ve read that “the seeds of In the Valley Below were planted one night at SXSW,” so I feel it necessary to ask if you care to elaborate on that?
We were playing in a different band as friends and took a trip to SXSW a few years ago. We spent a lot of time together and really got to know each other on that trip. It was like finding your childhood best friend. We wanted to spend every minute together and bonded over our love of music. We decided to start a studio side project and write and produce songs for fun and just mess around. We haven’t been apart since.
Has music always been a part of your lives? What were your respective musical endeavors before creating In The Valley Below?
Yes, I grew up singing in the choir and writing songs for my sisters to sing. Jeffrey started playing guitar as a kid in Memphis.
I was initially caught off guard when your band’s sound didn’t exactly match what I was expecting based on your stage attire (not that it has to or should have). Is there any particular reason for that difference between look and sound? Has it helped or hurt your career in any way?
It wasn’t really that thought out. We went to take a photo, and I just wore one of my vintage dresses that I always wear and Jeffrey put on a pair of suspenders I found at a thrift shop in Vermont. Several people have made the same observation as you, but we just dress like that. We try to look nice at the shows and use an iron. I am not sure what we would wear if we tried to look like we sound.
I was quick to note the sounds you guys produced: dark, bassy textures, dreamy synths, and lustrous, dual vocals. Who or what musical influences do you draw from?
I think all of our influences are subconscious, a blend of music that we love to listen to. We both initially became inspired by the dark side of Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. In general we both prefer to listen to darker music.
The single “Peaches” is a great track for listeners to be introduced to In The Valley Below, as it works like a passionate and “fruitful” declaration. Was that intentional? Did you consider any other tracks for your first single?
We were surprised that that was everyone’s favorite, actually; it was one of the first songs we wrote. We’re glad that it is connecting so well because that song means a lot to us.
So “Peaches” is out now, but I clearly heard more than just that track at SXSW. Any information you could give about when we can expect more recorded music?
We will be releasing an EP on September 17th.
What was the recording process like for the Peaches EP? What is necessary to make the transition from the studio to live performances (changing any arrangements, adding touring members, etc.)?
We recorded 98% of the EP in our rehearsal/studio space in Downtown LA and our apartments. We just worked on it when we could between jobs. We also recorded some vocals and drums at our friend Pete Min’s home studio. When it came time to perform live, we recruited a couple of our friends on keyboards and drums. It did take some trial and error to work out the live show so it represents our sound, but I think we are close now.
How did the White Lies tour come about and how excited are you to be coming back to LA to perform at El Rey on October 10th? No 1-10 scale necessary.
White Lies asked us to support them in the US and Europe, and we are elated and aroused. The tour goes to all these romantic cities we’ve never been, so it’s a dream for us. Of course, playing the El Rey will be magic. We feel very lucky.
One last question! We’re from LA, so what kind of food do you like to eat when you’re here and what’s your favorite place to get it?
There is so much great food in LA. We mostly stay in our neighborhood of Echo Park where we frequent The Park, Guisados, and Sage, or just enjoy the tamales our neighbor brings us. We usually grab lunch at the Woori Market in Little Tokyo when we’re working at the studio.
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