Valley: "Last Birthday" Music Video, Their Creative Process, and Three-Rrack EP, 'The After Party'

Ezzah Rafique | February 19, 2022
Photo creds: Dylan Mitro

Q: Hi, how are you guys? We'd love for you guys to introduce yourselves and who you guys are and tell us a little bit about yourself.

All

We are Valley. I'm Karah. I play drums in the band and sing a little bit.

I'm Rob, I sing and play guitar and valley. I'm 26 years old. I don't like growing up. Peter Pan's my spirit animal.

I'm Mickey and I play guitar and keys and digital production and stuff. I am also 26, unfortunately.

I'm Alex. I don't identify with a certain age. And I play bass in the band.


Q: For those who haven't listened to your music, what would the perfect setting be to listen to it?

Alex

Driving.


Rob

Definitely driving.


Alex

Yeah, anything like moving, I think we're commuting band or I call ourselves like commuters man. I feel like we're really good at like 7pm, 8pm coming back from a ski trip suns going down. That's a Valley moment. Maybe the subway, you know, just a day off is a Valley moment. But we also have a lot of sad music. So I guess if you like lose your job or some Valley’s there for you, too. So I would just say all-purpose, overthinking, or commuting and just going about your day where we're good for you.


Mickey

Certain tracks are really good to fall asleep to or just like lay in bed, eyes closed listening to because there's a lot of ear candy. Emotionally on the songwriting front, it's like very nostalgic, you know, late-night drive kind of vibes. Or like summer, summer evening drive vibes, but then like sonically, there's a lot of stuff that you wouldn't be able to hear in a car. So having headphones in like closing your eyes and paying attention to them is like, cool, a little nerdy, but like really cool, as well.

Q: So definitely something you can listen to throughout your day. Perfect. I want to comment on your most recent release the After Party. So y'all have mentioned that the songs on there: Last birthday, Seven Stories, and Papercut are some of the most important songs in your lives. Is there a backstory to each song regarding their importance?

Rob

Yeah, actually, each one is very specific. So Last Birthday, we wrote originally in 2019, at an air b&b in LA. And it was like the last day of our riding trip and our friend Ash came over was amazing. And we just wrote Last Birthday together and the whole day we were drinking wine and eating cookies. And for the first hour or two just watched compilations of When Harry Met Sally, specifically, the last moment of the movie where there's that like a compilation of the old couples talking about how they met and stuff. So we just kind of like start talking about like being there for people from the beginning, unconditional love and referencing all these kind of like feelings from movies. We ended up writing Last Birthday, which is a favorite song. Paper Cup was like a very eight-minute-long journal entry that just came out one day. That was like one of the only songs I think that came together like came out of the sky. Like you're not even thinking you're just like singing it. And then it just...


Alex

That song was like a therapy session.


Rob

And they're really special. And then Seven Stories was like crazy. So I was like going through a little bit of a breakup this year & Mickey and Alex and Karah got together with our friend Danny and started working on this song. And I was actually away taking time off. I wasn't really working with the band and they just like sent this demo over and it was unbelievable. So I just started working on it. And then we finished it together in like one day like all songs, other than 'Last Birthday'.


Karah

The Last Birthday chorus. So, when we were putting together the Last Birthday song, I was looking through my voice notes, and there was never a clear moment of like how we wrote the chorus, which is weird, like that one sort of did fall out of the sky [and] we just held on to Last Birthday for a long time. But honestly, I remember writing that chorus, and we [were] looking around and being like, so, who wrote the chorus and none of us knew. So it was like just there, it was so weird. And obviously, we wrote the chorus, but it becomes one of those situations where it's like, you get into this, like very much trance state when you're writing sometimes. And I feel like those are really when the best songs come because you're truly not thinking about anything else. But just like carving out the song that we always say just already exists, you just kind of have to find it and take away pieces and stuff like that, but it is there. You have to be ready to take them in because like for instance, Seven Stories. The melody of that chorus Mike wrote in college, but there wasn't an opportunity, and it just wasn't the time for it. And then like all of a sudden, they're writing this kind of new song, and then Mickey was like, Okay, this melody works here. Like, you just never know, when all that stuff is gonna align. That's why I always say, never give up on an idea or like a melody. Because we're the best example that like, even years later, something that you, I don't know, came up with while walking down the street, just blurting into your phone is going to end up on a record.


Alex

So I feel like the songs actually kind of mirror the like the theme of the record like nostalgia and stuff because we did take like a lot from older stuff that we like melodies from college or songs that we'd written seven years ago, and brought those back. So I feel like there's a lot of mirrored nostalgia with this record.

Q: What was the creative process? Like you guys described it, but was there a creative process for the song that wasn't used to like your normal style of writing songs?

Alex

There was one, I think Seven Stories is really cool & is getting quite a lot of love. It's cool to explain that song. I'm really proud of how the lyrics build because you kind of have this one perspective. And then like the last chorus, everything flips for a second. It's like, oh, this is what would happen happily ever after. But then it also at the very end, it just doesn't. And I don't know, I just like the way we've lyrically built that song I'm really proud of like, kind of the twist, and then it kind of lands back on its feet to the original intent. And that was really fun to write. I remember like, it's the saddest song ever. But it was enjoyable to like, let it out and like build that song together.


Mickey

And we went back and forth a bunch with perspective too. Because like, Alex and I had kind of written it from not Rob's perspective. But then naturally, Rob coming in, like, mid break-up starts kind of like adding to it and adjusting to it. And then we were like, Okay, how do we make this make sense. And then by the time we finished it, they were back together. So there were all these like perspectives and moments kind of happening. We kept going back and forth, but I think where we landed was like the right spot.


Alex

Yeah, like Last Birthday. We all have the same favorite moment in the song. There's this instrumental bit after the second chorus, where it's just like these lucky bells. It's like, dun dundundun dun. And it's the best, I think, instrumental piece of music I think you've ever done and it's just so simplistic. I remember when we made that it was like it happened again. In the moment, we had this little like synth that we just like played the little bell melody on and it instantly felt like classic, vintage and that part just feels like driving through the desert.


Karah

I literally remember you doing that, you just like plugged in and it was the first sound on the synth. And yeah, first take too, and Rob just like literally came up with that melody, like on the spot perfectly. And I remember like screaming at him being like, "if you re-record that, I'll kill you like it was perfect. Don't even think about re-recording that" and he was like, okay, okay, so when we just we like heaven, it's great. Like, I think those are the moments you truly like should not redo or try to make even better like those are the moments that make the human aspect of music really shine.

Q: Do you have a favorite song that you prefer to perform? If you could pick one song to perform over and over again from them, which would you pick?

Mickey

For me, it would be Oh Sh*** because it's so engaging with the crowd. It's so simple. And we teach them the chorus before her before the song was that we taught them the chorus. But now we just do it. Because it's fun to get the crowd to sing. And, to be honest, it's so simple for me to play. So I get to just like, be there and not really think about what I'm playing and stuff. I get to just vibe out, it's just really fun for me.


Rob

I like Tempo as of recent because we like get Mickey to jump on the kit now. So we do my favorite because we do like a swap. And then me and Karah just get to like run around and sing, which is honestly really fun. It's just a way less pressure. You don't have to worry about a guitar bar or whatever. You're just like singing. And it's just fun. It's like the most easygoing song we have. It's just a jam for three minutes.


Karah

We recently started rehearsing Last Birthday, because we had a couple sneaky videos that we were doing. I just like love playing Last Birthday. Honestly, it[s] just a time machine back to like the 70s I feel like I'm just on the drum just like grooving since we wrote that song. I would literally go down in my basement and like play it on drums strung along to it on guitar for like, literally hours and the band would like to walk in on me and be like, Why are you still playing this? I'm like, I just love it. It's just so fun to play because it's nothing crazy. Like it's not a crazy drum part. But it's just fun to play and like, it just feels like something that like my favorite band like Fleetwood Mac might have played. You know what I mean? So it just feels really nostalgic. And just like feel good to me. And yeah, I just like watching Rob at the front just like chopping away as he's like so good.


Alex

Last Birthday for me too. I feel like it's a very, very fun representation of us live. And it's just, it's just so fun to play. Yeah, I love it.

Q: I want to also talk about the music video for it. I loved it! What was the story behind it for you guys?

Rob

So we worked with this amazing director, genius Dylan from Trento, he's done videos for our favorite band in the world called Baby Girl. We want to work together for a while and finally, the stars aligned and he kind of ran with the concept in a beautiful way. It's kind of like we're showing up to I guess Karah's like birthday party but it's no one else showed up in a way but we're so in tune and just happy just that it's just the four of us. And I don't know I feel like there's a lot of room for interpretation in the concept because who knows what happened maybe like it's a don't look up situation like the whole world fell apart. And it's just us having this like final hurrah. It's cool that people can kind of run with whatever happened pre this party? And what kind of what caused us to be in the situation? Why didn't anyone show up? But I think it's also just a beautiful sign of showing our character and our chemistry. It's just a beautiful video about friendship and just kind of being there, which is just the intent of the song is just being there no matter what. Dylan just has a way of making things look really like beautiful and cute


Alex

It looks the way it sounds.


Rob

Exactly like Karah gets like drumsticks and like there's just a lot of like cuteness in the video, but it's presented in a way that's genuine and I think very truthful.


Alex

And visually too like we shot the whole thing on film, which is the first time we've ever done that. And if there's any song to do that for its Last Birthday, because it's such a 70s kind of inspired song just like drum tones and melodies and arrangement and stuff. It just looks like when we got the film back. It just couldn't have been better. Dylan is so talented and it just looks the way it sounds visually it just feels good.


Rob

Yes, the visual representation of friendship, I would say.

Q: It looks exactly how it sounds. Did you guys create it with the intent of retro-themed and have the film camera used for it? What was the creative process like behind it?

Mickey

It was always going to be retro. Yeah, like the song from the get-go? Yeah. It's always felt classic and like vintage shows from the day we wrote it. It's always been like oranges and yellows and we were like, okay if we're gonna shoot this video, it probably should be on film. It should compliment kind of the organicness of the song. The song is very much like drum, Bass, acoustic guitar, beautiful vocal harmonies like it's kind of the Fleetwood Mac formula that we put into that song.


Q: So one of my favorite parts in the video was the transition between like receiving the gift and then Karah when you like twirled the drumstick, then you went into like performing. Do you guys have a favorite part in the video?

Mickey

Mine is when we walk in. It's very, it's very news anchor-ty. It's like, what's up channel eight news like, it's the whole time. We're like, yep, we're Anchorman. It's just the vibe of it. We're like shredding like, oh, like it's just funny. And then I think a lot of like, like, turn it up. And the performances [with] confetti was fun. Dylan had a really good crew, just amazing people to do lighting. So we had a lot of like silhouettes and like haze moments and stuff that just look really nice. And like a lot of shadow work.


Q: Do you guys have an inspiration behind your music? Whether [it’s] artistically or based on your life? Do you use mainly like your experiences? Or do you pull inspiration from other places?

Karah

I think it just kind of depends on like parameters of like where we wrote it. When we wrote Last Birthday, for example, we wrote it with Ash, who is like an artist herself. And she's incredible, she's got a very sort of retro 70s, 60s kind of vibe to her. And like, we knew going into that session with her that we could write a song about something very simple, but something very beautiful. And she would be able to translate that very generic feeling into a song that we could stand behind that wasn't kind of already said, but said in our own words. And like, so I think with that one, it was very much the person that we wrote it with, provided that sort of energy to the song and provided that overall hue to the song that we wanted to capture with that one, but then a song like Seven Stories, it's like Alex and Mickey, were thinking about their best friend. And I wasn't in that session, but and neither was Rob. But they were sort of thinking about that and their hearts just kind of hurting for him and Becca. So that song sort of comes from a personal experience. But other times songs like Tempo, for example, just kind of come from a place of like, I don't want to write a sad song that just honestly gets exhausting emotionally. And sometimes you do want to write a song like Tempo, where it just kind of is about vibing. And there's no deeper meaning to sort of pair with that it truly just is like a vibe song. But then Last Birthday, there's so many roots to that song. And I think that's kind of the beauty of creation is just, you know, allowing your mind to go wherever it feels like on a given day, it's always changing.


Q: I also know that this is also your first headline tour. How are your feelings about that? How's it been so far?

Alex

Pretty good. Yeah, there's like a specific group of words; proud, excited, terrified, kind of like that. Because it's, you know, cuz, you know, we're very excited to play for just our fans for the first time, not just, I mean, like, we obviously have a fantastic time coming with this. But we've sold this out, essentially on our own, and that's pretty cool. So it's just really cool to create an experience that is entirely our own. Now, we've toured the US a bunch of times only as an opening so like, we had no idea what we were worth because there's a lot of artists who do like 5-10 opening tours and can't even sell a venue out. And then there [are] other people who like, have never opened before. And there they sell out 5,000 cap rooms just from the internet. Like it's so hard to know how many tickets you're worth until you just do it. And we have been very, very, very pleasantly surprised because we're kind of at this stage in our career were like, things are changing so quickly, and we don't really know like, not everything is you know, at the same level like streaming is different than touring is different than press is different than everything. So we went from putting up a 250 cap room in New York on sale to selling out, I think like 1200 tickets at Irving Plaza, and we had no idea what was gonna happen. I honestly was scared we were gonna sell like 10 tickets and then just like NAFTA canceled tours but it's sold out now. So we've been very, very pleasantly surprised and just really stoked to get out and play for fans who have been waiting so long to just hear a Valley show exclusive.


Q: Yeah, that sounds amazing. I have a lot of friends who love your music, and I know they're going to be at your show, and they're very excited. But for those who maybe haven't listened to your music yet, what song would you tell them to listen to first?

Mickey

Last Birthday, it just checks all the boxes.


Thank you guys so much for sitting down and talking and, with everything going on, I hope everything goes the best for you guys!


All

Amazing. Thank you so much.


Photo creds: Dylan Mitro