MONDAY DECEMBER 11, 2017
 
Blog INTERVIEWS
VALLEYS
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Valleys’ debut album Are You Going to Stand There and Talk Weird All Night? is a jackpot of sound. While it recalls genres of days past — shoegaze, electro pop, the gothic ‘80s rock of the Cure and Bauhaus — it seems ideally made for our modern age, when music fans taking to the street giant, expensive stereo headphones is the norm.

The band is primarily the work of Marc St. Louis and Matilda Perks. At a recent Toronto show I spoke with them about creating such a distinct sonic atmosphere, the mortal terror in filming a music video and the awfulness of laptop computer speakers.

What kind of equipment went into the making of the album?

MATILDA: There’s a lot of Juno-106 on it. That’s the synthesizer we’ve used for everything we’ve recorded.

MARC: We used a lot of software drums and synth. A good bit of computer work on the record. We didn’t have to record live drums in a studio — we worked out of our producer’s house (Alec “Orson Presence” Dippie of the Monochrome Set).

Do you write with more “traditional” instruments?

MATILDA: I write mostly on the keyboard. I’ve got a crappy one in my house.

MARC: I make loops in our practice space. Worry about recreating it [live] later.

You guys create a distinct atmosphere for every track. Do you ever worry about losing the “song” inside of that?

MARC: We have!

MATILDA: Definitely.

MARC: We do try to build atmosphere around the melody.

MATILDA: As much as possible. There has to be a strong core to the song.

The little sonic details add a ton of replay value to the record.

MARC: While recording we definitely think about the quality of (listening devices) people may use. I don’t know when that started being important. 

MATILDA: We spend a lot of time making sure to get the sound we really want. Adding effects, making sure ... it means a lot when people listen closely.

As you said, Marc, there’s so many different ways to hear music now — everything from a thousand-dollar stereo system to tinny computer speakers — and modern bands have to keep it all in mind.

MARC: It’s really tricky. I’ll listen to things on laptop speakers, but that can give the totally wrong idea. Most things just don’t sound good at all, and I wonder how many people listen to everything that way.

I’ve been using laptops for 13 years and the improvement in sound quality has been limited, at best.

MARC: At one point I thought that was improving, but maybe I was wrong.

MATILDA: You were wrong!

You’re both strong singers. Have you tried switching it up — hearing what certain songs would sound like if the other person was carrying it?

MATILDA: That’s a good idea! I like that idea. Sometimes in the studio, if we’re being picky, the other person will take over, but that’s an extreme case.

MARC: We try to put both our voices on everything but sometimes that doesn’t work. Something gets lost.

MATILDA: We layer our voices, but I never want it to sound like a choir.

Before the album dropped you released “Undream a Year,” one of the best videos I’ve seen in 2013 so far. What inspired it?

MATILDA: (Director) Derrick (Belcham) is a good friend of ours. We sent him the single artwork and he wanted to work with (the visual concept) for the video. I thought it was perfect — I like that dark, odd physical movement happening in both. We developed it from there.

I was really afraid during the shoot [laughs]. Afraid I was going to fall and die. 

Why was the song chosen as a single? It’s fairly downbeat, and over eight minutes on the album.

MATILDA: You’re not the first person to ask us that, but I thought it was a really good fit for a single!

What does it mean to “undream” a year?

MARC: It’s about regret. Wanting a do-over.

You are the core duo of Valleys — how many members have been in the band at one time?

MARC: At one point, around 2007, it got really bloated. Like seven people for our live incarnation.

MATILDA: That was the very beginning. We didn’t know what we were doing then.

MARC: It’s gone back to two people ... and our machines.

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