Don’t let the name Valentine throw you off: this dude is killing it. The young producer has already made a name for himself releasing beautifully written and masterfully constructed tracks one after the other.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Valentine and chat about pretty much everything. We go all over the place and cover:
- Valentine’s top influences and favorite upcoming producers
- The inspiration for his massive track ‘Her’
- How the music industry can improve communication
- Why wedding DJs are ruining music
- Mixdown techniques
- And so much more
Enjoy this interview with Valentine!
PR: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you decide on your artist name?
Valentine: It’s actually my middle name.
Valentine: Yeah, haha. I was actually thinking about making a post about it, because people think I just put my producer name on my Facebook profile. They’re like, ”haw haw, you’re a producer”.
But it’s actually my middle name.
When I first started out, I went by NVP [Nick Valentine Parker]. I went for the initials first, then went with the middle name after a while. I liked the way Valentine sounded, and had really cool ideas on how to create a brand around it.
The message here is to bring people to create and do what they love as well.
Pariah Reign (PR): Everyone has a different goal when it comes to being an artist. Ultimately, what do you want your music to do you for, and for others?
Valentine: I’ve always been about expressing myself and trying to create the best I can. I want to make a lasting impact on people and inspire others to create as well. It’s doing what I love: gathering up experiences and influences. The message here is to bring people to create and do what they love as well.
PR: What inspired you to get into the future bass scene?
Valentine: I got into future bass because of all the talent on Soundcloud–all the beat makers there, all the amazing, individual talent there. I started out listening to more basic styles of music when I started producing and I branched out as I discovered more. At that point I didn’t really have a signature sound. I was still learning how to produce as well.
PR: When was a moment in your life that made you change the way you thought about music?
Valentine: I know it’s something that a lot of people don’t like talking about, but tripping on acid really changed my perspective on art in general. I know it’s a weird thing but it’s an extremely intense experience that changed my feelings and shaped what I wanted to express with music.
Moving out of my parents’ house also helped. I got to experience the world for what it is.
I started producing with GarageBand in 5th grade. It was just the same process every day–nothing new to take in, just going in and out of the same motions. Moving out and getting to know different areas of the country really helped me gain influence and inspiration.
Lastly, seeing Porter Robinson was really intense. Feeling that type of emotion and being there just makes you emotional. It’s unlike anything else. Take hardstyle for instance. It’s a rough and “smash your teeth on the bathroom sink”-type beat, but it doesn’t put you in the same spot as a Porter show.
PR: Are there any upcoming producers right now that are really grabbing your attention?
Valentine: Oh my god. There are so many.
PR: I understand that’s a difficult question but sometimes you have those few people that really stand out, haha.
Valentine: I posted a list not too long ago of producers that I think have the most creative production.
It’s actually funny you brought this up. I was trying to get into my RouteNote account earlier and the security question was “Who is your favorite musician?” I thought, how do you even answer that kind of question?
Blake Skowron has some of the most amazing sound design of any person that I’ve listened to in a really long time. His general style–the way he layers and resamples–is great. His music makes it really fun to get kicked in the face with kick drums.
I absolutely love Stereocube’s knack for really intricate sounds. He has some of the cleanest mixdowns and a Koan Sound feel while making ambient, spacial tracks.
Naji just released on Soulection. Holy hell. Naji is the future. I’ve had his song on repeat all week. I’m actually working on a collab with him and VDG at the moment.
I mean, I could go on, there are so many awesome people out there. Too many people that need to be heard.
PR: There’s definitely a lot of noise out there. Every artist is trying to get attention and sometimes the real gems get missed. Who do you draw influence from when writing music?
Valentine: Porter Robinson, obviously. Everyone has “Worlds” as an influence by this point. Mr. Carmack as well. I like not giving a fuck about mixing techniques and just going straight for a good composition.
It was really cool to be in that space with a bunch of like-minded people, jamming out.
PR: I noticed you played a show with your inspiration, Mr. Carmack. How was that?
Valentine: Playing that night was really cool because the Riot Room in Kansas City is a really small venue and it doesn’t pack out often. It was really cool because there were just so many people that I wasn’t familiar with. For the longest time, I thought that no one listens to Mr. Carmack. But at the show, I got the sudden realization that people do listen to Carmack and these other artists like Flume, who was playing in Kansas City earlier that night. It was really cool to be in that space with a bunch of like-minded people, jamming out. Everyone there was expecting innovative stuff to be played and it went off really well. I got to experience that kind of large crowd with the same sort of genre mindset as me.
I didn’t get to meet Carmack. The show went on too late and by then I was so tired. Plus, I wasn’t about to get anything out of interrupting his set. We will cross paths again at some point, I don’t doubt it. But it was a really great night, I enjoyed it.
PR: That’s awesome! What your performance plans for 2017?
Valentine: As far as tour plans go, I’m working on Chicago in February. Milwaukee is in the works as well. Lots of big releases down the pipeline, definitely expect your boy to be in the neighborhood soon.
PR: I’m getting a little giddy. I think it’s so cool to see someone work so hard and reach a peak where it finally pays off. With the finish line in sight, you just need to run the last lap.
Valentine: Life right now is good, but the only thing upsetting me is that I can’t work on music as often as I’d like. You have to plan releases out, and promote them effectively. But, things are definitely going well.
PR: Is there anything else upcoming on the Valentine schedule?
Valentine: Oh Lord, yes. Yes yes yes. There are 13 songs in my outbox waiting to be released. I don’t know if I can talk about it, but I am really excited for an upcoming EP and a few new remixes. I won’t say where they are coming out or what they are, but it’s really, really exciting stuff.
I want to express myself and let my music speak about my life and the stories of those around me.
PR: You’ve had some great releases recently. “Her” is one of my favorites. What was the story behind the track?
Valentine: I wrote it about my girlfriend [Now fiancée. Congrats Valentine!]. I was inspired by the fact that she is just really awesome. We’re kind of a perfect pairing. It was how I felt at the time–not that I don’t feel it now, I do. I just wanted to put it down on paper. I wanted to step away from the stereotypical future bass sound with all the Wave Racer drum fills and supersaw lines. I wanted to organize a track how I like and go for that individual sound.
Recently, I’ve been focused on translating emotions. I’m looking at music from an emotional perspective instead of a beatmaker perspective. I want to express myself and let my music speak about my life and the stories of those around me.
My music is also about jotting down cool ideas and new, forward-thinking sounds, but it’s more about expressing how I feel at the time.
PR: What’s something you’ve always wanted to accomplish through your work?
Valentine: I’d like to travel. It’s always something that I’ve wanted to do. I’d like to put myself in different perspectives, be able to see the sights, and do the things in other places to get inspiration from it. If I can make a big impact that’s great, but it’s so hard to break through and do that. Maybe I’ll try to change something about the music scene and society. Who knows.
PR: We all to an extent want to give back, especially when we put so much work into something. I totally understand wanting to improve something that you care so much about.
PR: What do you want to see improved in the industry as a whole?
Valentine: Communication is necessary. Everyone in the scene could be better at communication.
PSA to everyone: If you would answer your emails and speed up the process, that would be awesome. Thanks.
Producers need to create an individual sound. Lots of producers get into production and learn about production from past producers and popular artists, but everybody just sounds exactly the same. There need to be individuals.
Also, I don’t like people taking advantage of music in exchange for money. I hate wedding DJ’s. It’s a weird thing to bring up but wedding DJ’s take advantage of Top 40 songs, mix in a style that doesn’t even involve technical skill and get paid ridiculous amounts of money.
There’s a dude I work with that does corporate parties and weddings. He makes more than I do at any of my shows. It’s just a complete bastardization of how DJing is supposed to be.
PR: If you had any tips for upcoming producers, what would they be? Doesn’t matter if it’s relating to marketing, sound design, attitude, it could be anything.
Valentine: Many things. When it comes to mixdowns, the general mixing principles are always something to advise. High pass everything that’s not an 808 or a sub in the sub spectrum so that sub punches through. Cutting and boosting is fine, but focus more on the output and how it sounds.
Basically, use your ears to mix instead of following some formula.
Every track is an individual and you need to treat them like so.
I think people get caught up on, “Well I’m supposed to EQ this and compress that”. Actually, it’s about how it sounds. Every track is an individual and you need to treat them like so.
Also, if you’re passionate about music, and you feel like you’re not on par with everyone else, don’t give up. People seem to give up after a certain period of time because they feel like they don’t make anything good. It gives them tension.
Everyone in the creative realm passes a threshold that compares what you’re creating to what you’re listening to. It’s really hard when what you’re creating isn’t quite matching up to what you’re listening to. If you have good taste, you will eventually pass that threshold and what you make will be equal with what you listen to.
From that threshold, it’s all about creativity. Being creative is always worth it.
Choose your team wisely. Producer group chats, collectives, or similar groups are great for getting feedback and improving your skills. Get together with other producers. Share ideas and relate your experiences with one another. Use each other to better understand creating and marketing music.
Similarly, it is important to have a really strong network. It gives you a huge leg up in the long run. As I said before, communication is important in building connections. Be smart about making connections and climb your way into knowing enough people who can help you be successful. Branding, visuals, and musical quality–when added to your network and social skills–is what makes you a professional.
You’re only gonna have this one life to express how you feel through your music or art, so do your best to do just that.
PR: Is there anything else you’d like to address our audience at Pariah Reign?
Valentine: Be an individual. Don’t focus on recreating stuff and go in on a certain sound that doesn’t even reflect what you’re trying to do. Focus on being different and showcasing your own talent in whatever way you can.
Pariah Reign, I mean… you guys have the most amazing blog articles, and everyone that’s interested in your articles has a good head on them. So just keep working up and climbing the ladder. You’re only gonna have this one life to express how you feel through your music or art, so do your best to do just that.
PR: Thank you for your time!
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