Band Booking: Talking I Ching with Montreal’s Valleys


Marc St. Louis and Tillie Perks are the duo behind electronic Montreal-based band Valleys, whose newest album Are You Going to Stand There And Talk Weird All Night? will be released April 30th on Kanine Records. Marc and Tillie have been making music since the mid-’00’s, trading places on guitars, synthesizers, drums and sequencers. On previous River Phoenix and Stoner EPs, and their Sometimes Water Kills People LP, they have skirted the line between dream pop and post rock, with an increasing if subtle introduction of electronic elements and rhythms. Their latest album is atmospheric and pretty, embracing electronic musical tropes enthusiastically, and balancing feverish noise elements with the hooks of electro-pop. Early single “Undream A Year” is an expansive slice of digital angst, which stretches out to three songs-in-one, showcasing the pair’s ambitious and moody approach to electro-pop and serving as a worthy introduction to the textures of their latest offering.

They played a series of shows on the east coast before heading down south for SXSW. I caught up with them while they were getting ready to head there.

What is the band up to these days?

Marc: We’re in San Antonio watching The Breakfast Club preparing ourselves for SXSW and some spring touring in support of our April release. This involves push-ups, eating spaghetti and doing vocal exercises next to the I-35.

I really liked the track “Hounds” from your new album. What’s it about?

Tillie: “Hounds” is loosely based on an I Ching reading I threw after some of my friends and family members died in unrelated accidents around the same time.  I asked the I Ching about something really frivolous.  Like, about a boy I liked, or something.  Its response was (paraphrasing): “You are drowning.  But don’t despair; there are more important things than life.”  This song is about navigating the loss of loved ones, the simultaneous desire to renounce the world and affirm it.  It’s also about the coarse feelings of anger, depression and fear that occur in grief and the hope that we’ll be able to forgive ourselves our limitations in the end.  Man, I didn’t realize that shit was so heavy until now.

What is the band reading these days?

Marc: We’re reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen and O Pioneers! by Willa Cather.

How do you like playing and working out of Montreal?

Marc: There are definite advantages and drawbacks.  The rent is cheap and the music scene is thriving.  However, due to its diminutive size it can get a tad insular at times.

Are there any literary influences that make it into your songs? 

Marc: The song “See the Moon?” on our new record is named after a Donald Bartheleme short story.  The Stoner EP from a few years back is inspired from the John Williams novel of the same name.

How do you feel like the music industry has changed, and how do you like it?

Marc: Social media, smartphones and numerous tech advancements have made it easier than ever to consume music.  That said, the lifespan of music and videos seems to have gotten much shorter.  I think our collective attention span has diminished drastically over the last decade, but I’m not sure if that’s either good or bad.  Little bit of both?

What are the overarching themes that you try to express in your music? 

Marc: Loss, beauty, youth, nostalgia, the sublime, the mundane and a dirty joke here and there.

Valleys are playing Glasslands in Brooklyn on April 4th. Their new LP Are You Going to Stand There And Talk Weird All Night? comes out April 30th on Kanine Records.

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