Manchester-based Valentich explores some of the darker and more rhythmic recesses of electronica, techno and experimentalism in a way that is both intelligent and enjoyable. On hearing the musical and genre melange of recent album Disappear, we decided to speak to them and find out what made them tick. They’ll be bringing their innovative sound to Foundations at Manchester’s Peer Hat on the 2nd of November. The album can be streamed and downloaded on Bandcamp.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. What’s the story behind Valentich and how would you describe your sound?
I’ve always been a creative person. As a teenager, my focus was purely on art. However, when I moved from a tiny, quiet town in Worcestershire to Leeds in 2004, I quickly realised that there were a plethora of hugely talented and creative people involved in music. We were at gigs every other night. It didn’t matter what the genre was.
However, after a while, I became obsessed with mostly instrumental, post-rock bands. Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, Humanfly, etc had a huge influence on me. But at the same time, so did electronic artists such as Four Tet, Fischerspooner, and Daft Punk. At that point, I knew I wanted to merge both genres. That’s mainly where my style of music emerged from.
I’ve often described my sound as “depressing dance music”, which is no bad thing! It has experimental elements of drone and ambient, layered over a lot of tech / deep house beats. I really enjoy creating ‘alternative’ dance music. I don’t think I could narrow it down to just one genre though as I tend to be influenced by many.
What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?
It sounds like a cliché, but motivation-wise, I get agitated if I’m not doing something creative. I tend to work on music for at least 3 or 4 hours every day.
I’ve always enjoyed pushing myself and seeing progression in anything I do. Seeing other people within the community do this is extremely inspiring and motivating too. In fact, the alternative / electronic music scene in Manchester is probably the single most inspiring thing for me and definitely helped me get to where I am today. Record labels such as AnalogueTrash are doing hugely inspiring things within the scene.
In terms of aesthetic and vibe, music-wise, the likes of Jon Hopkins, Tangerine Dream and 65daysofstatic are probably my main influences these days. Boards of Canada and Public Service Broadcasting too, especially in regards to the use of samples. I often use a lot of NASA samples in my live sets, because, well, space is great, right?
Were you into specific bands or musicians when you were younger? Do you think they have any influence on the music you make today?
Absolutely, and it came from my parents. I grew up listening to a mix of 70’s prog-rock and 80’s synthpop. One minute I’d be listening to Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath, the next, Madonna and Depeche Mode. As a teenager, bands like Muse, Placebo, and Radiohead got me interested in alternative music. In parts, they still have an influence on my music today.
How easy do you find it to recreate your sound in a live setting?
I think that now, I’ve settled on a specific sound for live shows, which is a bit different from the records I produce. Live shows tend to be more upbeat; I enjoy playing tracks in totally different ways, adding in extra layers of bass and random jams to link everything together. Yet you can find a lot of piano work and more ambient pieces in general on my records. Although I incorporate snippets of that in gigs, I focus more on the upbeat, 4/4 stuff. For a start, it’s easier to play!
I can hear club undertones in some of your tracks such as Eyes Like Fire and Mirror Moon. But there’s also an experimental, un-commercial edge to it. How easy do you find it to balance those elements?
I found it quite tough at first, especially when producing my latest album, Disappear. However, I knew that was the direction I wanted to go in. I went through a phase of becoming obsessed with deep / tech house music, and then I stumbled across Jon Hopkins. For me, that kind of experimental dance music was perfect, and really helped me add a specific sound to my work, albeit with a heavier bassline vibe.
It’s definitely a fine balance though. Tracks like Eyes Like Fire and Mirror Moon were in many ways the toughest to produce; I’d never really tried to capture those commercial elements in music before, especially when coupled with more experimental pieces. I think it works well though, especially in a live setting.
What’s up next for Valentich? Any upcoming gigs, new releases on the horizon, other projects?
I have my (currently) final gig of 2019 coming up on November 2nd at the Peer Hat; Foundations Festival, F*ck Brexit Edition, which I’m really looking forward to playing! Every artist on the bill is fantastic. I’m also studying a Masters in Audio Production, so that will take up a lot of my time over the next few months. I know I’ll be itching to play more gigs though, so looking to pick that back up after Christmas, possibly sooner.
In terms of releases, I’m currently working on three remixes for fantastic artists, all of which have a sound very different to mine. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into those, with a release date in (roughly) a months’ time. I’ve also started work on a new EP; a concept record that I’ve been wanting to create for a few years now. Hopefully, that will be finished by the start of 2020, in time for the next round of live gigs. I’ll more than likely be wanting to play that extensively as soon as it’s released!