Real girls in their own place.
Not too crazy and just a pinch of naughty...
Interview by Falene Nurse
Images by Valente
V is for Valente and also for that voice, one that so far has been compared to Jonsi and those delicate sound birds with the cleverly placed electronica beats—The Postal Service. Not bad company to keep, for an emerging and relatively new artist. He’s also a bit of an artistic wonder, gifted songwriter, impressive producer and as his comparisons attest, he has one of those voices that sets itself apart by lingering in our collective psyche. If you’ve heard him, you need only use his name once as an immediate reference. Which is handy, as his surname lends itself effectively well to a one word musical moniker. Valente.
The Italian born, Californian based musician, has lived a bit of a nomadic existence thus far. Which no doubt has influenced his cinematic approach to music. Revealing and sensitive lyrics, lush layered soundscapes reminiscent of a Zeffirelli romantic interlude. His music is both current and nostalgic, switching easily at whim. Listen closely enough you are reminded of the zither from noir classic "The Third Man," playback Azubu and I remember Tangerine Dream. Soundtracks, always soundtracks. Maybe it’s because his music sensibilities were cultivated by a theatre director dad and a mother who sang jazz. Or maybe because he was raised both in Rome and then later in Switzerland—locations that so often in film conjure up beauty and melancholy in all it’s intricacies—you could argue he is a product of environment. Or is it simply his enduring love of Brian Eno, I wonder. One thing is for sure listen toHome and you will know immediately he has a deep appreciation for storytelling, even if your not sure how. And also that you might have just exposed yourself to one of the most addictive songs of the year. Go on, I dare you to try and only play it once!
Your music has been described as cinematic and soothing, do you agree?
I absolutely hate the word soothing lol. I really do like cinematic though. When I think of soothing, I think of soft harps playing in the background.
Is Alexandria a place or a person?
(it’s available on iTunes since this interview took place)
When I was creating the EP I was living in an apartment on a street in Koreatown, called Alexandria. The aura of that time and place, is reflected in the record. You had this quintessential LA horizon, this view you could see from the rooftop that was amazing. I moved into that place just for the view, it was completely impractical in many ways, not the best neighborhood, but amazing views of the city from my studio.
Describe your style of music?
I get that question a lot, but I still don’t have an answer ready. I guess it falls in-between things, which makes it a complete mindfuck for anyone helping me promote it. I don’t know what genre you could say it was. To me in my head it’s a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist, does that help?
Little does he realize not only does it help, it fits perfectly with my headline yay!
NB - I really must find a hobby.
Who would you love to collaborate with, living or dead?
Oh boy, that’s a tough one. The list might be too long. If Julie London wants to come back from the dead, I would be more than happy.
Do you think your vocals are haunting?
(laughing) Did you just change that question on the fly because of what I said about soothing?
The interesting thing is his spoken voice and singing voice are both so velvety, but they sound like 2 completely different people. It’s uncanny and then he looks like a third, I wonder if he channels different personas on those rooftops?
Honestly I didn’t, but you have also been described as having “haunting vocals” as well. Which when you think about it, is an odd combo.
They are very different ideas aren’t they? You could say when I make music, it probably does come from a certain place that might be unsettled. So I take “haunting” as a compliment. I just hope people don’t have the horror movie connotation when they think of me.
According to this young lady Naina.B, far from it dear.
Was Home written after being on the road too much, or do you just really like airports?
A lot of people think it’s a love song. It was actually written after traveling a lot. I was becoming a man in a suitcase, people would say "there’s nothing on the walls" in my apartment and that’s because I didn’t necessarily know how long I was going to be there. It’s that idea that home is a feeling, where certain people are, or when you are around them. Not an actual place, but a feeling from other people. Certain people. Or like falling asleep as a kid with your head on a family member’s chest, that feeling.
How was it sharing the stage with Skye from Morcheeba and Angela McCluskey?
Those were 2 life experiences, Skye was awesome. Watching this petite, beautiful, little woman, walk out on stage, was like watching a lion tamer with the audience. She opens her mouth and everyone is transfixed. Angela McCluskey I love to no end! She has one of those timeless voices and she’s also got that Scottish accent! I had always looked up to her and then I got the opportunity to work with her, which was mind-blowing.
Do you write most of your lyrics/songs?
I write all of the lyrics and mostly play all of the music. I’m a little detail orientated. The music usually comes first and easier than the lyrics. So I have a little storyboard in my head and the words are the visceral emotion, afterwards. Sometimes I wish someone else could write the lyrics for me, a brain tourist, that could write what I want to say. That would be perfect.
When is your next album coming out in?
I’m working on it lol. November hopefully, it’s called Music For Rooftops. I have a thing for being on rooftops.
When did you first come to the US?
I came here when I was a kid to visit and then I moved here permanently on my own. I came to LA when I was 18 years old, right out of high school. For years I didn’t get LA, but now I understand it. Wouldn’t change it for the world.
I think LA takes time with everyone.
You have been compared to The Postal Service, how do you feel about that?
I really appreciate what they do, but I would say my older stuff sounds more like them than this EP. However I don’t think our voices sound the same.
Three favorites films?
OK, I can do this lol. Not to sounds like a movie nerd, but I loved Metropolis. Even with all our CG now nothing really looks like that. I was also super influenced by 80s American movies that I saw in Switzerland, which of course were on a few years time delay. Lost In Translation and Fellini’s 81/2. Do I sound like a movie nerd?
No not all.
(Yes, absolutely - but that’s ok here).
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Should I say them?
Yes, of course.
I love drinking as if I were a connoisseur. Er oui, oui?
Yes alcohol. Like a foodie though, not an alcoholic lol. A connoisseur of alcohol, that’s it! Of course I’m joking.
This is where I betray my Italian roots and become a stereotype, I love food and wine. Good life. Eating, traveling, and drinking.
Tell me 3 of your favorite photographers?
From young I was completely hypnotized by anything that Helmut Newton did, I think that had a lot with coming of age. His ideas of big, statuesque women. Richard Avedon and Guy Bourdin.
What do you think of the MIMP concept?
I think it’s a really interesting concept.
Women or women in their underwear?
Any particular shoot catch your eye?
It’s all a great idea. There’s something very erotic about the concept. Even if the pictures were devoid of semi-nudity, it still would be erotic. There’s something extremely sexy about using real women in the shoots.I love that they are real people.
Yes they are real women, very attractive but they aren’t famous.
Should I take my pictures with mesh panties on also?
That’s your choice lol. One actor took his pics in the tub with his rubber duckie, so we’re open to anything.
When you come back in the next life, what will you be?
If there is any justice I will be a gay man. It’s a running joke with my ex girlfriends or my buddies, I’m aesthetically inclined, I can have a discussion about women’s shoe design—but I’m straight. But if I did, I would be fab-u-lous!
I think I may have been lucky enough to interview a musician just at the beginning of something immense here, roll credits, fade to black.