In the Valley Below Remain Rooted in the Moment
Some of the best things in life are misunderstood by most, and even better things are often worth waiting for. Such is the case for Los Angeles' In the Valley Below, a duo consisting of vocalists/instrumentalists Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail, whose success with their thumping, melodic hit "Peaches" last year spawned a flurry of interest in the band, a newer act with a full spectrum that listeners have yet to hear.
Such acclaim has come with the blurring of some intentions, whether with the band's appearance or musicality, but Gail remains easygoing, seemingly unfazed by such things while staying acutely aware of the industry focus on her band.
In the Valley Below's debut record is slated to be released sometime this summer, with an EP dropping in May, according to Gail. While we wait to see the full unfurling of the duo's work, we chatted with Gail in the meantime, ahead of their set inside Crescent Ballroom Friday night during Viva PHX.
Let's talk a bit about the band's aesthetic -- was it a calculated move to really evoke a bit of that throwback feel, visually, or is it just an extension of who you both are outside the band?
I think that we never intended it to have an old-timey feel. I personally wear the white dresses for me -- it helps when I get onstage; it makes it very ceremonial. It helps us get into, I wouldn't say, a character but more of a mood, a performance. We want to put on a show because it's more than just for your ears. The guys all wear suspenders because it holds their pants up and they don't have to worry about what to wear everyday [laughs].
So it's a bit of a Stevie Nicks kind of thing, trying to bring about an emotion, visually, than just an aesthetic.
Yeah, there's something I like about wearing white dresses. It's almost like a wedding. It's kind of like a purity thing, a clean slate.
I've read the backstory and inspiration behind "Take Me Back," just the general sense of discontent with Los Angeles. As both of you are transplants to the city, what do you feel it is about L.A. that can be really disconcerting sometimes?
I don't know if it bothers me that much anymore, just to kind of appreciate it and observe it, but there's just so much bullshit. It takes so long to cut through that, or at least to learn how to figure out what's bullshit and what's not when you're here. It takes a whole skill set that you have to develop. That gets kind of old, and getting your hopes up all the time, you kind of live a Cinderella story. That can be hard or it also can be good because it's humbling and it keeps your ego in check.
What has been the biggest misconception about the band thus far?
Sometimes when people see a photo, they think it's folk music, which the roots of it really are -- a lot of it is -- but I think people judge a book by its cover.
It's as if you go onstage and people are expecting to hear something different from what they're seeing. Is that the ace up your sleeve in terms of surprising listeners in a live setting?
It turns out to be a pleasant surprise in most cases, but I think that might be the biggest misconception. I'm not sure exactly, but if someone doesn't delve into it, they automatically judge it as folk or synth pop or something. It's a lot more than that.
Was there one moment for you guys when you realized the In the Valley Below was going to be a large, defining part of your creative careers? If so, talk me through it.
We did [In the Valley Below] as a side project for fun, and we never wanted to play live. We didn't want to pound the concrete and ask all our friends to come see us again. It came in a lot of small steps -- first, when our manager came on board, that was huge, just having a manager. We felt like that was the next step. I think when we played on David Letterman, that was when I felt like we proved something to our families and people who supported us for so long without any real proof that we were going anywhere. That was a great thing that we were able to do. I haven't even watched it, but at least I can say, "Hey, Mom and Dad, look, it's real."
I don't know if this is the product of being from a small town as well, but being in the entertainment industry as a musician or working for a label or being a journalist, it's really odd to go home and try to explain what you do, try to get the gravity across without something so grandiose as playing Letterman. Did you have that experience?
My family is so supportive that they thought I was rich and famous since I played one show in L.A. [laughs]. If people [from my hometown] haven't already seen on Facebook then I just say I'm in a band and leave it at that. There's no point in trying to make it seem like a big deal because it may not be for long [laughs].
In The Valley Below are scheduled to play Friday, March 7 as part of the Viva PHX Festival. Tickets are $20.
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