Artist Spotlight: In the Valley Below
Husband-and-wife duo In The Valley Below bring their Lana del Rey-meets-Peter Gabriel brand of indie dream rock to the mountains for their debut performance at BMF.
"Because songwriting is such an intimate expression, it was awkward when we were just friends and hadn’t really opened up in that way that’s necessary for writing good songs. Having a romantic involvement allowed us the intimacy to really open up in the songwriting process without fear of judgment…and our songs got much better”
So, take us all the way back to the beginning; what got you into music in the first place?
"I started playing guitar when i was 13. My brother had given me a Jimi Hendrix CD, which kinda blew my mind and kicked the whole thing off. I definitely grew up listening to classic rock - Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles. Angela [Mattson - vocals/keyboards] loves classic rock, but she also has a strong folk/Americana leaning. She actually didn’t start playing music until she was an adult. She lived on a boat for a couple of years, cruising the Caribbean, and to pass the time, she taught herself to play a guitar someone had given her.”
A big part of your band is the chemistry between you and Angie; where does that come from?
"It all started in LA. We were good friends and had been playing in various bands there, grinding it out, for a long time. One day we said, hey, why don’t we try writing some songs together? The first few were really bad. Then at South By Southwest, ummm, something happened with lots of beer and one thing led to another and we became romantically involved. Then we tried writing songs together again and they were much better…so that’s how the band started, as a fun little side project. We didn’t think anything would come of it, it was more just to work on our songwriting and production craft.”
"We definitely have individual musical worlds that we grew up in, but there’s enough overlap between those two worlds that we can meet in the middle with shared influences. Sometimes when we’re stuck writing a song, we’ll say, ‘what would Peter Gabriel do?’ to shake things up a little bit."
When you guys perform together, your vibe is sort of like you’re in a private conversation for the audience’s benefit…
"We don’t set out to do that, but it’s kinda evolved from our relationship. Someone once said it felt like they were at a wedding - it feels a little darker than that to me, but…I guess in a way we’re a little like a newer-sounding version of Fleetwood Mac, a rock band with that male/female energy"
Finally, I have to ask—what’s up with the beer tastings at your shows?
Well, we love beer. We like to try local craft brews wherever we go in the country, and we brew our own beer as well. On one tour, we brought five cases and had tastings of our homebrew before shows. We like to experiment, so we’ve done blondes, browns, porters, stouts - we prefer darker ales - but our pale ale probably went over the best. We made a cinnamon stout but steeped the sticks too long and turned it bitter and pretty undrinkable. Angie claimed to like it, but…when you’re brewing, sometimes you go a little too far and you can’t go back."