Valley Hush can cast a spell with their mesmerizing sound. Drifting, unhurried beats; enveloping bass hooks, and lithe vocals- nimbly drawn from a sweeping croon to a rapid roll- belt with breathiness into a mellifluous sing-speak, with a measured gleam of guitars that cascade in after each chorus.
A lot of bands have gone for the fusion of organic and synthetic over the last several years, bringing chill ambient-techno-pop realms out of doors and into an earthier, wilderness-evoking atmosphere of carefully layered production with found-sounds, field recordings and live drums– but few pursued that aesthetic with as much focus as the Detroit-based duo Lianna Vanicelli and Alex Kaye.
I don’t take my time here in Detroit for granted; it’s such a wild place to grow as an artist. -Alex Kaye
The track, “Iris” is perhaps their breakout single and most quintessential song to date. It’s exemplary of this vibe, with a blend of bird-sounds curtained around the mix so as to seem like they are surrounding you in the distance of a jungle’s clearing–whistles and buzzing that suggests cicadas and other busy insects, while a digitized-sounding steel drum curls before the chorus. The line between what you might imagine and what is artificial blurs – especially in the celestial tonality of its primary hook. Then again, lead vocalist Vanicelli’s voice always keeps the reverie of it tied back to the terrestrial splendor.
But while the collaborative pair had a diligent handful of years in Detroit, and eventually expanding to a quartet, they are set to play their last hometown show on Friday, October 13th at Ant Hall as they prepare for their formative move out to Los Angeles.
Vanicelli came onto the Detroit music scene as a vocalist/percussionist back in 2010 with Phantasmagoria. Kaye, meanwhile, put out his first full-length release under the experimental electro-pop moniker Autumn Wolf in 2013, and since has become one of Assemble Sound’s go-to music producers.
Valley Hush recently released their latest single, “Goodbye, Sweet Mango.” Check it out to be swept-up into their dreamlike harbors of their electro-pop bliss.
Jeff Milo: How does it feel to be leaving Detroit? What does this city and the music scene mean to you, on the eve of departing?
Lianna Vanicelli: I’ve lived here my whole life. But leaving has been a long time coming, so it feels very natural at the moment. Detroit is so incredibly special, and I think its music scene and its rich music history is one of a kind.
I feel really lucky to have been able to put my roots down here. -Lianna Vanicelli
Alex Kaye: I’ve been in the Detroit area all my life. It really is an incredible place, and one that I know doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. But I think it’s really important to allow your mind to become untangled from your normal routine by making big changes like this. I’m excited to have a different perspective on things and meet new people.
Making that big change can be daunting. You’ve both been really making a go of it to take Valley Hush to the next level, but can you talk about just managing that…well, that pressure. It’s a constant hustle. And you can’t ever get stuck in a comfort zone. What continues to keep you inspired with this band?
AK: You’re right, there really is often no rest doing anything involved with art or music. Whether that be actual rest for your body, which is rare, or, like you said, no comfort zone. What keeps me excited about Valley Hush is the opportunity for Lianna and I to really do whatever we want, whenever we want with our music.
I work on a lot of other music projects for people, which I really love doing, but there is nothing like being at the wheel of your own project. Lianna and I have always been able to write well together, because we share a lot of the same views on the world. I think, nowadays in music, it’s rare to find the type of friendship and working relationship we have…
“Goodbye, Sweet Mango” taps into Valley Hush’s ever-flourishing quality that provides listeners an emotional escape; something danceable with a pop-melody but full of poignant lyrics that pluck heartstrings. Can you talk about your intent and direction for Valley Hush when you transition to California?
LV: To be honest, that one just came out of the blue after an emotional trip visiting my family in the Philippines. We don’t have an exact direction that we know for sure that we’re moving toward, except that we are really making an effort to focus on the core of songwriting. I think our new material may come out a little more stripped down, naturally. We’re writing songs that will translate well when played with just a couple of instruments. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the magic of production that you sometimes lose the actual songwriting aspect. As far as moving to California, I’m not sure what kind of influence it will have on our music, but I’m excited to find out!
Maybe an obvious question, but what drew you L.A.? And what are your plans once you get there?
LV: My plan is to explore everything and get inspired! L.A. seems like another planet. I’ve only been there once and I know it’s going to be a mind-fuck coming to live there from Detroit. I’m mostly excited to just throw myself out of my comfort zone and grow. A ton of people have told us that they think our music would do better on the West Coast, and I think there is just way, way more opportunity there for us to potentially make (music into) a career for ourselves. L.A. is simply just where the industry is, and we need to be closer to it. And, also, I’m incredibly stoked to immerse myself in nature every possible day that I can…
AK: There are so many things going on in places like New York and Nashville, as well as L.A., for music. I had the chance to visit there several times last year, working on some music, and I really did fall in love with it. The mixture of climate, scenery, and city-life is just incredible. I was lucky enough to visit Joshua Tree and part of the Redwood Forest last time, which is something I’ll never forget.
In retrospect, what have you found to be the most valuable/memorable experiences working and developing in a music scene like this? Is there something you might take to LA that Detroit gave you?
LV: Detroit’s music scene has always been so eclectic, inviting, and down-to-earth, as far back as the days of Motown. People here are all about making something out of nothing. Here, music is a way of coming together. We’ve been part of Assemble Sound,were working out of there since the very beginning… the attitude and work ethic there is very true to the city. Detroit has so much creative spirit and its definitely become a part of me.
AK: Yeah, I think my time- and our time- here in Detroit, and developing ourselves as musicians and writers has been really invaluable. Being closely surrounded by your very talented friends and mentors gives you the unique chance to build something, and of course that’s something you find through trial and error and learning from your mistakes, but it winds up being something you can really put yourself behind and be proud of. I don’t take my time here in Detroit for granted; it’s such a wild place to grow as an artist.
Valley Hush Farewell Show
Friday, October 13th, 8pm
Ant Hall, 2320 Caniff Ave., Hamtramck
with Mega Powers, Mango Lane, and The True Blue
$10 presale / $15 door
Featured image: Photography credit, Evan Zott.