Valley’s New Single “Society” Pushes Back Against Music Industry Norms

Alternative indie band, Valley, dropped their new single “Society” on June 9. The Canadian band—comprised of Rob Laska, Karah James, Mickey Brandolino and Alex DiMauro—has been on the rise for quite some time now with their catchy choruses and powerful lyrics.

The band first released the lyrics to their new single to emphasize the importance of the message behind the words and to get their fans wondering about how the song might sound. Although the lyrics hold major importance, the memorable tune behind the lyrics is nothing to gloss over either, with hints of inspiration from “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus and “All Star” by Smash Mouth lingering in the background.

To learn more about the angsty lyrics, which are compellingly paired with an upbeat ‘80s tune, Valley sat down for a Q&A with American Songwriter.

American Songwriter: So I just wanted to first ask, was it a particular instance or experience that inspired this song? I know it was co-written with a friend.

Karah James (singer/drummer): We were in a writing studio in LA, in late 2019. We had brought this more personal, heavier concept to the co-writer that we were working with. And he just basically shut it down. He was like, ‘Yeah, you know, people don’t want to hear that. It’s like, it’s too dark.’ So I went off and started writing a whole different song on my phone, very discreetly. The next day we were in studio with our good friend, Andy Seltzer. He just like, understands us, you understand? Really, this is the perfect song to write with him, because we are on the same wavelength about this kind of thing.

Rob Laska (singer/guitarist): There’s this frustration and a happy melody, but the lyric is kind of like you’re really saying some some serious stuff. So that’s always resonated with us growing up, it’s just the happy melody, sad lyric, or a lyric that’s very intense.

American Songwriter: I noticed the juxtaposition of the music with the lyrics. Which is why I value the fact that you guys released the lyrics first.

RL: Yeah, lyrics are really important to us. Lyrics are the thing that we sit with, and really edit like an essay and make sure it makes sense to what we’re trying to say. And every line counts. Every word counts.

American Songwriter: I was going to ask about the lyric in the bridge, You made me feel dumb. That feels so personal. Was this song inspired by that one particular experience, that interaction with the co-writer who shredded your ideas or do you feel like the song is more indicative of how the music industry was treating you all as a whole at that time?

Photo credit: Becca Hamel

KJ: I think that one line in the bridge is definitely victimizing ourselves for a second. But I think the thing to take away from this song is, in the chorus, at the very end—it basically is just alluding to the fact that we can play the victim, we can feel sad about this, we can be conflicted, angsty artists—but at the end of the day, we put ourselves in that situation. We conformed and we were also going to be the change. We have to be the change. It’s like, you can blame your shit on society. But at the end of the day, it’s all you, no matter what it is about our industry.

Mickey Brandolino (keyboard/guitar): Society is just a bunch of us. It’s like when you’re out driving, and there’s so much traffic, and say, “Where’s everybody going?” You’re literally one of those people, and everyone else is saying the same thing about you.

American Songwriter: So should fans be expecting some more counterculture releases and digging into the stuff that you felt was being rejected? ls that what’s coming next?

RL: It’s funny because no, “Society” was kind of that snapshot in time and we want to give it its own kind of corner. I feel like the next single is completely opposite. It’s actually us trying to be the most optimistic, like almost escapism.

MB: But that’s also a snapshot of that moment. We were like ‘Man, so much shit is happening in the world.’ There’s so much bad shit and we’ve written about so many sad things because we’ve felt sad feelings. And it’s kind of our therapy, writing music. And what we’re feeling at the time is like, I just want to chill and have fun. I want a song where I can just not have to think about the journey of the song—people need that escapism.

We then turned to discussing the creative droughts during COVID, and how difficult it is to stay positive when feeling like you’re fighting an uphill battle—whether against society or in your personal lives.

American Songwriter: Is there anything that you want to leave your fans with regarding the release of the song besides being the change that you’re rebelling against? I know that you all emphasize having dialogues about mental health.

RL: I think for fans, just know that we’re going through [something] very similar. It seems like we’re on another side of the glass and like we’re in this fabricated world of music and fun and TikTok and Instagram. I want to remind our fans that if they are feeling like they need help, we literally feel the same way. You just don’t see it. And we’re here to process it with you in whichever way we can—through making music.

Alex DiMauro (bass) : One more thing, tell our fans that if you’re not happy with something or someone, don’t be afraid to figure out a way to try and change it, or to try to change your perspective on it. Just because everybody’s different, and if you don’t talk to your friends and family and everybody that surrounds you about their problems, you’re not going to be able to understand how to best help yourself.

And that is exactly what Valley did in their new single “Society.” They noticed an issue within the music industry, and society itself, that they wanted to comment upon and work to change through their music. The song is vulnerable, angsty, angry and remarkably honest.

Listen to “Society” here now.

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