An EXCLUSIVE interview with VAL: "All my life experiences have strongly influenced my lyrics"
With a background steeped in the artistry of opera, VAL's extraordinary journey led her to embrace the allure of popular music, creating a unique blend that transcends boundaries and touches the very depths of our souls.
From the moment she unleashed her debut EP, "Ashes," Val embarked on a music odyssey. It was a transformative experience that ignited her passion and unveiled a newfound path, where her lyrical prowess and melodic ingenuity blossomed in harmony. Collaborating alongside her talented team from the esteemed Libe Music label and production company, Valentina's EP is an auditory expedition that intertwines her unique artistic vision with mesmerizing harmonies and emotive storytelling.
Indie Boulevard presents an exclusive interview that delves into the captivating journey of Val. Join us as we explore Val's remarkable career, immerse ourselves in the world of opera, and uncover her exciting upcoming ventures and plans for the future.
IB: Hi Val! It's an absolute pleasure to have you here at Indie Boulevard, and thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Your background in opera singing is fascinating! How do you find the experience of transitioning from the grandeur and traditionalism of opera to the contemporary and often experimental nature of popular music?
VAL: Hello to everyone at Indie Boulevard and to all your readers! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my music. While I was studying opera, I never thought about venturing into pop music. It was such a different thing to do in every sense. Opera is all about interpreting a character and making the story your own, but pop music is a personal journey, which I wasn’t ready to take at that time. Now I’m in a very different place, and the experience has been nothing but an emotional rollercoaster trying to find balance between many feelings and personal experiences. Popular music has allowed me to build a home for them.
IB: Opera and pop music are two distinct genres with their own set of characteristics. How do you navigate the creative process when blending elements of opera into your pop music, and what challenges, if any, have you encountered in merging these two worlds?
VAL: Although opera and pop music seem to be such different genres and there’s a huge gap that divides them, there are a few things that bring them together. First of all, and the most important to me, is the story that is being told. This is the main link that I use when mixing these two styles. All I want to do is tell my story, but the how is different. In opera, the correct way to play a character is by singing all the right notes and physically engaging with it, but you know that whatever is going on in the story isn’t real; it isn’t your story. Talking about my experience in pop music is all about being true to yourself and your journey, and this itself is a huge challenge because it’s all about you and how you choose to tell your narrative. Another challenge, and maybe the most difficult one to approach for me, is technique. Two words: the vibrato. The vibrato is such an important thing in opera, and to adapt this to my interpretation of pop is hard, mainly because I love it and, secondly, because I want to separate both singing styles.
IB: Valentina, as someone with training in opera singing, what draws you to the art form of opera and what aspects of it do you find particularly captivating or inspiring?
VAL: Opera is the ultimate singing expression. It’s not only about learning and practising the correct technique but also maintaining a lifestyle that will allow you to perform correctly. I always compare it to being an athlete because everything that you do has an impact on your performance. When I was studying opera, I was very careful of what I ate and of how I used my voice, particularly in noisy places, and this dictated my social life a lot. Besides this, I was very aware of my health, had my vocal cords checked regularly, and visited the ENT doctor a lot! All these aspects speak of someone who is very invested in what they are doing, and this inspired me to complete my studies. It challenged me to understand that if I wanted this, I had to do it the correct way.
Secondly, when singing opera, there are many things happening simultaneously: applying technique, breathing, and posture, to name a few. So apart from being aware of everything that your body is doing, there is the fact that it is not enough to sing the notes roughly because they must be exactly what is written on the music sheet. This has a charm of its own because I know all the hard work that happens during the process of learning an aria. When you are part of the audience, you can assume the labour that has been put into achieving the interpretation correctly, but it's only when you are behind the scenes that you can really seize it.
IB: Opera often explores timeless themes and stories, showcasing the depth of human emotions. Are there any specific opera compositions or characters that have had a profound influence on you as an artist, and if so, how have they shaped your own musical style and storytelling approach?
VAL: I had been to the opera many times and enjoyed many stories and many characters, but none of them spoke to me as Cio-Cio-san did in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. I remember that the first time I saw this opera was in England when I was 16. At that age, I hadn’t experienced anything remotely similar to what the story presents, but I just couldn’t stop crying. I thought about how she felt when she was left alone with her kid and how she was in such pain because of the man that she loved. It wasn’t only the story that I loved, but how the music accompanied it so well. This made me think of the importance of the symmetry between the lyrics and the music. This definitely impacted and influenced my musical style. When composing and writing songs, I’m aware of how I want the music to be in certain sections to create the effect of intimacy or outburst. This is how I move through different emotions when telling my stories.
IB: More than a year has passed since the release of your debut EP "Ashes", I am curious to know about the rollercoaster of emotions you experienced during that time. Can you take us back to the moment when you released your debut EP? How did it feel to share your music with the world, and what were some of the most memorable reactions or experiences that you encountered in the aftermath of its release?
VAL: It was such a difficult time because we recorded the album during the COVID pandemic, so only a few people were allowed in the studio. We had to take turns and had different restrictions. Aside from the fact that worldwide was a very hard period, my team from Libe Music was in a mindset where all we wanted was to finish this project. We worked with people in Chile and Germany, and because of the time difference, it became a bit hard to achieve the time limits that we had set. During the whole journey, we did encounter some difficulties, so keeping a good mood and being flexible were key. I had postponed writing and singing about my life because I felt like I was never ready. I was never ready to share it with the world, and most importantly, I was never ready to deal with the feedback, which meant dealing with personal issues and having to explain myself. Now that I’m older, I don’t want to hide my feelings anymore, and releasing "Ashes" was proof. I think everyone who has been part of my life knows that I sing, but listening to something original was very different, and the reactions were amazing and made it all worth it.
"IT"S A BATTLE BETWEEN ANGER, SANDESS, & ACCEPTANCE"
IB: Every track on your mesmerizing EP "Ashes" exudes a distinctive energy and emotion that captivates listeners. I must say, "Hold Me Again" continues to resonate with me as an exceptional piece of artistry. Could you share the story behind one of the songs and the inspiration that led you to create it?
VAL: Thank you so much for your words; this is the kind of thing that keeps me going! "Hold Me Again" has a special place in my heart, so let’s talk about it! Honestly, I don’t know where to begin because the story goes too deep and what you hear is just the tip of the iceberg of it all, but I will try to explain. This song is about trying to understand why the person who was supposed to take care of you didn’t. It’s a battle between anger, sadness, and acceptance. I, as a kid and now as an adult, still can’t understand it, and I guess one of the ways to deal with the pain was to write about it. Every time I sing this song, I go back to that emotional place where everything hurts because I’m so angry about what happened to me, but at the same time, all I want is for that person to hold me once again.
IB: Are you currently working on new songs? Can you share any insights into your current projects and what fans can look forward to from your upcoming music?
VAL: Yes! My new album is almost done! I'm so excited because it’s a complete new musical adventure! "Ashes" is all about what different experiences left me, but this new project is about pain and healing, so you might expect even more raw and sensitive lyrics. My new album explores different styles, some of which I never thought I would undertake, and this talks about my new approach to music: not being afraid of anything and just enjoying the process. I am thankful to be able to turn my pain into art.
IB: Can you share a particular moment or experience in your life that has strongly influenced your songwriting, and how it translated into a powerful piece of music?
VAL: I guess all my life experiences have strongly influenced my lyrics, but mainly some traumas from my past and how I’m dealing with them now. It’s a long process to see how you transform what you are feeling into music. First, you must be very aware of how you feel about a certain situation, and then comes all the work of trying to find the best way to tell your story, keeping in mind how the words fit with the music, and always respecting your personal boundaries of how deep you want to go or how much you want to tell.
IB: What role does self-reflection play in your creative process, and how does it shape the authenticity and relatability of your songs?
VAL: Self-reflection is the main character of all my songs! One of the main purposes of my musical adventure is for people to relate to my themes. As a kid, I enjoyed listening to pop songs, and I remember thinking, "Oh yes, she/he is right! I feel this too!" and that thought was always at the back of my mind—the importance of relatability. Today, as an artist, I really want people to enjoy my music not only because of the music itself but also to connect, relate, and feel accompanied. That’s the goal.
IB: And the final question. As a professional singer and musician, who would you say has been the most influential artist on your artistic journey? And what is currently serving as your biggest source of inspiration?
VAL: I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t mention Whitney Houston. Every time I listened to her CDs, I was transported to another place. Beside her amazing voice, her interpretation was everything to me. So yes, definitely a massive influence for me as a singer. The way she hit the notes and transited through her vocal range is still, to this day, something to learn from and an inspiration when writing new things. Today I’ve been drawn more into blues, R&B, and soul because here I find a place to tell my stories comfortably.