In The Valley Below: Irresistible Synth Pop for Even the Most Jaded Indie Fan
There comes a time in every music snob's life when they realize pre-judging a band based on the city where it resides and what musical genre it fits into is just as stupid as it sounds.
In the case of L.A.-based duo In the Valley Below, a new musical project comprising singer/multi-instrumentalists Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob, it might be easy to read a few keywords, toss them into the over-saturated sea of synth-poppers, and save fishing them out (to give their music an actual listen) for a later date (i.e., after Pitchfork tells you what to think about them).
However, the joke would be entirely on you, dude.
The band's debut video (directed by French avant-garde filmmaker Laurent Michel Moreau) for their broodingly romantic single "Take Me Back" is a clear example of the band's power, delivering carefully crafted male/female harmonies over catchy guitar riffs and eerie synths that ultimately result in a sound as dark and creepy as it is dreamy and beautiful.
What's working here is rare case of organic talent, good taste, and a simple idea the band was founded upon: making music that both Gail and Jacob would listen to. It takes listening to the duo's four-song self-titled EP to truly understand what sets the band apart from the rest. What makes In the Valley Below even cooler is a humble attitude that seems unaffected by whom they might be compared to and very much grateful for the (inevitable) recognition.
Up on the Sun: First off, I appreciate your take on creating music you and Angela both enjoy listening to. Though it's a simple idea, it just kind of struck a chord for me, especially after listening to your music. Do you think if every band did this, the current music climate would be more profound?
Jeffrey Jacob: Yeah, I wonder. I mean, I don't know what's in [other musicians'] heads when they're doing their creating, but I would assume that most people would make music they want to hear because otherwise . . . it seems weird [laughs]. Maybe they have other things in minds, like, "Oh, I want to make people dance" or some other motivation, but, yeah, we just try to write stuff we want to hear and just do it as well as we can and, you know, see what happens.
I read that when you and Angela started making music together, the band was meant to be a studio project, but you both toyed with the idea of never playing shows. I imagine you now have a pretty large number of shows under your belt. Would you say you've had the chance now to work out some of the difficulties surrounding your sound in a live setting?
I think we're pretty far along with working out the kinks, but you can always improve. I'd say we're definitely more comfortable now then when we first started playing live. Yeah, it's an evolving process, but I think we're at a good spot. At least, I'm comfortable on stage with what we have.
The video for "Take Me Back" is very cool and, well, über-hip being directed by a French filmmaker. It fits the song beautifully and almost takes it to another level -- visually representing this haunting/romantic theme. How'd you team up with this filmmaker and how was the shooting process?
It was just random, actually. [We knew] a friend of a friend and he mentioned, "You should check out this guy I know," and we met and just hit it off creatively. He had ideas right off the bat, and I'm not an intensely visual person, but Angela is actually really good at that. It was a nice communication, and we shot it for zero dollars around Los Angeles for a few days and it was a super-low-budget kind of thing.
Have you had an ah-ha moment yet? How long have you been working toward this?
Well, we've been playing live for about a year. Yeah, just under a year now and the whole project is only a year and a half old, so it's pretty new. As far as musical projects go, it's a baby.
Honestly, we didn't expect anything to happen, so this all has just been really fun to see whatever it is that's happening, you know? I just saw the poster for the Phoenix show and our name is, like, the third under The Cold War Kids. Our name has never been that high on any bill so . . . [laughs]