INTERVIEW: Valeree

Hi Valeree, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey! Thank you so much for having me! I’ve been really good. I’ve been getting a really good response to my new single, so I’ve been on cloud 9 a bit. It’s awesome.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Masochist”?

“Masochist” is essentially a song about fucking myself over. Sorry if I’m not supposed to say that. It’s about a craving to be with people who are bad for you just for the sake of making you feel something. It also hints at addiction themes, which was very much intentional. I have a long history with that so I wanted incorporate it. Even though it’s about dark subject matter, it’s presented in a way that feels light and playful, which is my favorite thing about it. It’s very representative of who I am in that way. I could be going through the hardest part of my life and I’d be cracking jokes the whole time and focusing on the bright side. That attitude has its downfalls, but it’s also gotten me through a lot. It’s a soulful doo-wop throwback song with a lot of modern elements. I never really know what genre to call it because there are so many elements, but it’s a fun tune.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Yes actually! I had just broken up with my long term boyfriend and went on a solo trip to San Francisco. He was someone that I thought the world of, and still do, but it just wasn’t working out for me, and I was really upset with myself about that. I couldn’t wrap my head around why I just couldn’t seem to feel the same way about him that he felt about me no matter how badly I wanted to. I’d also briefly dated a few really great people before him, and ended it with all of them before it got too serious for the same reason, I couldn’t match their feelings for me. Then I started thinking about how I had two long term partners before that, both of which were pretty shitty in their own right, and both of whom I fell desperately in love with. I started thinking- maybe I’m only capable of loving people who aren’t good to me, and that’s how the idea of Masochist was born. I wrote the whole song while driving through the city chain smoking Camel Filters.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Definitely. We shot the video a few months ago, and I have to say I’m really excited about it. I think it embodies my personality really well. Look out for that towards the end of October.

How was the recording and writing process?

Oh man. Long, frustrating, and very fun. I originally wrote it just over a year ago. I think I started with writing the chorus lyrics, which just kinda came to me while I was thinking about my situation. I knew I had something there so I wanted immediately put it to a melody. Since I wrote the song in San Francisco, I didn’t have access to an instrument, but I knew the general chord progression I wanted it to follow. I found a song with that chord progression, played it in the background in the car I was driving, and wrote the melody. The rest of the lyrics followed. A few months later, I met my collaborator Adam Allison, and we basically “workshopped” the song. Essentially, I played it for him and he picked it apart. He’d tell me where a lyric was confusing or was just weak, and we’d sit and talk about it for however long it took for me to come up with a better one. I’d argue sometimes but almost always agreed eventually. He was really helpful in guiding me to get my idea out in a way that was clear. He also helped with spicing up the chord progression, I originally had it as just a four chord song and it was a bit boring. Then, the two of us and a producer named Danny Balistocky hit the studio and recorded this song and four others. I have a video coming up on my YouTube channel that shows a bit of that process. Basically we started the track with a throwaway take of vocals and guitar and built it around that instrument by instrument, finalizing with recording vocals and background vocals. It’s a time consuming way to record, but I really enjoyed it and feel like it was the best way to make this kind of music for me.

What made you want to touch on these dark themes?

Honestly, I’ve always used songwriting as a form of therapy. I don’t usually write for the sake of releasing. I write a lot of songs that will never see the light of day. Mostly because they’re just not good, but this one happened to be good enough in my opinion to pursue recording it. I didn’t go into it intending to put out a dark song though, I just was in a dark place and needed to work through it, so I did that in the best way I know how.

How did you get to balance the darkness with the uplifting tone?

I think a huge part of accomplishing that was that I knew what chord progression I wanted, and the progression it follows sounds happy. Also, as I said before, I tend to make a joke of everything, especially the darker things happening in my life. It’s a coping mechanism. So I don’t think I really had to force that part of it. It was kinda just my conversation with myself joking about being a masochist. The bridge is the moment of self-awareness, but the rest of the song is my coping mechanism in full effect.

What role does LA play in your music?

Playing in LA is weird. People in this city don’t really wanna go see live music. You go somewhere like Austin and the locals are out seeing small bands play every night. It’s a huge part of the culture there. LA doesn’t have that culture, and all the venues want you to pay them to play. Luckily I’ve been able to avoid that, but it’s still pretty rare to actually make any money to play, which makes getting great instrumentalists to play with you pretty difficult. Everybody wants to get paid, but nobody’s paying. I don’t mind the hustle though. I love playing live and have a ton of fun doing it. The best thing about being in LA and making music is that there’s so much opportunity here. I’ve been approached by labels which I don’t know if I’d be able to say if I was still in Pittsburgh, where I’m from originally. I have faith that if I continue to release music and work hard here, people will continue to notice, and this is the best place to be for that, because the people who notice are more connected and bigger and all of that. You find that the next step for a lot of artists that are big in their hometown is to get to LA, so I’m a step ahead in that realm. There’s ups and downs to it.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

Absolutely! I have a whole plan for 2020 to be quite full of new material. I’ve got four more songs ready to go, recorded and all, and I’m hoping to also record and release an EP in the not so distant future. The music video for Masochist is my next release, and everything else will follow soon.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

My next two singles are tentatively scheduled for January and February. That’s all I feel like I can say right now, but I have it all mapped out. I just also know how often I think I have a plan and then everything hits the fan. I can absolutely promise a lot of new material in 2020 though. Haven’t figured a title out for the EP yet.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’d love to! I’m hoping to start hitting the festival circuit in 2020, so hopefully that can lead to touring, we’ll just have to wait and see.

What else is happening next in Valeree’s world?

I’ve been writing a lot of new material. I’m really proud of it and excited to record it and share it. I’m focused on playing lots of live shows throughout the next year, and recording that EP. I’ve had some really incredible opportunities come up that might alter the course a bit, so I can’t say anything for sure yet, but I’m very excited about the next step, no matter what it is. Definitely look out for my music video in October and new music beginning of next year!

Listen to “Masochist

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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