Valipala | The Family Interviews
(a.k.a.: Evan - Trumpet; Aviv - Keyboard + songwriter; Matti - Drummer; Lauren - Vocalist; Nick - Bassist)
‘60s Motown funk is an absolute vibe and if anyone wants to contest that…well, please don’t because I’m terrible at debates and severely dislike confrontation. You know who agrees though? The bright and shiny five-piece known as Valipala. This progressive R&B/Soul group takes a cue from the bygone era and offers up some jazzy and groovy tunes.
Below, we chat with the collective about the FUTURE, community within the Big Apple, and the dangers of microwaves. So think twice about zapping that Hot Pocket, sir.
HISTORY OF A FAMOUS INVENTION: A Mad-Lib by Valipala
The first electric MOTHBALLS were invented in 1904 by a POROUS young man named SUN RA. He and his sister LUCILLE BALL ran a small CHICKEN SALAD repair shop, and in their spare time they studied SLED DOGS. When they started work on their invention, everyone said, "BLAST!! You'll never get it off the CILANTRO." But they built a SQUIGGLY model out of old COVERT OPERATIONS and a used HALF-DOLLAR. The model worked fine, and in ten minutes it toasted 24 slices of STROOPWAFELS. It also used of up two gallons of SILLY PUDDY an hour, and the top converted into a SPORK. They sold the patent to a MYTHICAL millionaire for 81 dollars and lived SERENDIPITOUSLY ever after.
Would You Rather…
be transported permanently 500 years into the future or 500 years into the past? What would you do?
Evan: We all know that climate change is gonna make living on earth in 2100 a terrible experience right? And we’ll definitely be extinct by 2519. I really like having other humans to talk to so I’ll take my chances with 1519 but that will be lame. Maybe i can try to warn everyone before the industrial revolution.
Aviv: Definitely 500 years in the future. I desperately want to find out what happens to funk over the next few centuries. Something tells me George Clinton will be there.
Lauren: 500 years in the future, because colonialism sucked/sucks for black/brown people. And I'd like to live past 35.
Nick: 500 years in the past. I’d bring back our future diseases and probably get a plague named after me. Some Questions With Barrie
Some Questions with Valipala
Do you believe the NYC music scene fosters community or competition?
Evan: Competition since there are so many artists constantly creating new things and playing shows. I really like the competition because it pushes us to try new things and make what we’re doing memorable compared to so many incredible other artists. And everyone (at least that I’ve encountered) is friendly, I never feel like anyone is my enemy. Check our some of my favorite NYC artists on my Spotify playlist NYC Funk Soul and Beyond
There’s a little bit of a community feel since this is such a crazy place to live. Living here is not very conducive to creating art yet there are so many amazing artists living here. I think when I meet another musician from here, there’s an instant connection cuz we know we’re both putting in so much into being a part of this community. But since it’s so big it’s extremely fragmented and it feels more like 100 different scenes that happen to be in the same place. Going to shows to create that community is so SO important but it can definitely be hard since there’s always a million things going on at one time and only a few artists at a time at a show. That’s why I’m working on Soundtown music festival in an effort to foster community within the scene by bringing together a bunch of musicians together on the same day all within a short walking distance apart. Check it out!
Aviv: To add onto what Evan is saying, you kind of come to New York explicitly to make sense of the competition. I’d say it’s more inspiring that demoralizing to be confronted with the world’s greatest musicians, especially as you realize that no one’s competing for quite the same thing. We all have our own personal voices to express, and everyone else is too busy singing their own tune to invalidate yours.
Nick: Competition is as fundamental to New York life as dollar slices or mayoral disdain, but it can make living here really hard. Scenes here spring organically from musicians who are able to create a nurturing, nourishing artistic environment in one that is otherwise unforgiving. That rare transcendence is why musicians stay and what keeps new ones coming in.
What does your family think of your music?
Aviv: My mom texts me every time she cries to one of my songs.
Lauren: My parents have always been my biggest supporters in literally anything I do. Every dance recital, choral concert, random dinner gig. Like everything, to the point that I’ve had to stop telling them about certain things. We’re heading to Detroit (my hometown) on tour, and they’re planning on getting a party bus for them and their friends. My parents are also musicians and are into Weather Report, Gino Vannelli, Steely Dan, etc., so they really appreciate what this group is trying to do too.
Nick: I think Valipala is my parent’s favorite band.
What is the most dangerous thing to microwave? Why?
Aviv: A vengeful potato
Matti: We’ve been without microwave for over 3 years now.
Lauren: Vegetarian here, but have you ever smelled microwaved fish???? THE WORST
Nick: Another microwave. Pretty sure that’s how you make a black hole.
Being a group of creatives what is the process like when composing new music?
Aviv: When we were in college, we had time to spend 20 hours a week getting together, jamming, developing ideas together, and endlessly polishing things democratically. Now that we have much less time together, we’re forced to spend that time much more efficiently. This has led me to do a lot more songwriting on my own so that we’re able to have an agenda during practice. I’ll bring mostly complete songs to the band, relying on everyone’s personal wisdom to interpret the material. Valipala songs are pretty terrible before everyone else gets their hands on them.
That said, the dynamic of a principal songwriter in an existing band is an interesting one. Following the whims of what excites me takes a backseat to a few things. There’s the fact that we as a band have a “sound,” and to move too far from that sound at once can cause us to lose some people. I often think about how many artists I love have changed things up in a way that felt true to themselves, but didn’t align with the reasons why I was listening to them in the first place. The worst would be do move the sound in a direction that the other musicians wouldn’t agree with. For the next batch of songs I’m writing, I’ve actually individually surveyed most of the band to get an idea of where everyone wants us to go, and aside from that, I pay attention to what everyone else is listening to. Matti recently went through a Guinean hand drumming phase. Evan is deep into Tennyson and Kiefer. Lauren got way more into the last Emily King record than I did. If I can synthesize all that, I can make everyone happy.
Sound aside, I’m writing for specific musicians with specific capabilities. So do I write a lead sheet that can be interpreted with liberty in any number of ways, or do I make sure to write in ways in which I know that my musicians can showcase themselves? This is especially a consideration with our singer, Lauren. As I get to know her voice more, I’m learning to write in ranges where I know she’ll shine, and where I have the interesting opportunity to write lyrics mainly for a voice with a different gender than my own.
The point of all of this is to say that even though I’m the main force behind any new compositions, I have a real responsibility to diligently understand the people I’m working with. Otherwise I will immediately crash this ship.
Nick: What Aviv said.
What are your thoughts on streaming platforms? Have they helped or hindered the industry?
Aviv: Change is the only constant. Labels gouge musicians more than streaming services do. The general public expects free entertainment. Culture has become less centralized and more personalized. Deeper and more direct personal connections are now more possible between artist and consumer. I don’t know how Snapchat and Youtube work. I want aristocrats to patronize my songwriting.
Lauren: Technology will always move forward, and like it or not, needs to be embraced in order to stay relevant. If there is a hindrance, it’s simply that legislation, which is supposed to protect our rights, moves at a snail’s pace, making it difficult to ensure new technologies are working for the creators they depend on to make their platforms successful rather than taking advantage of us.
That said, because of having to navigate the current landscape, there are more opportunities for an artist to engage directly with an audience and ask for individual, independent support, establishing a community that I believe is more sustainable in the long run.
Nick: Streaming services have let the music industry in on our most intimate listening habits. Algorithms are powerful enough to make playlists tailored specifically to your commute, your ideal heart rate at the gym etc. That means we now have to weigh our listening habits against privacy concerns. We have to make sure artists are at the table with streaming services when we determine how this data is put to use.
If the price was no option what would be the perfect bagel?
Evan: montreal bagel with sesame seeds. vegan jalapeño cream cheese with tomato onion capers. montreal bagels > new york bagels and i will die on that hill
Aviv: I would travel to the deserts of Namibia and feed off of the grubs and pangolins. My clothes would become weathered and the soles of my feet so padded that not even the antelope could hear my descents through the dunes. The restless sun beating down on me, I would slowly lose my grasp of the pillars of human society: language, fishing, cultivating crops, baking — not to mention parboiling. This whole time, I would be paying a team to monitor me, so that just as I am about to breathe my last, they bring me an everything bagel from Ess-a-Bagel, with chive/scallion cream cheese, Vidalia onion, a cross section of an heirloom tomato the exact diameter of the bagel, non-pareil capers, deeply smoked Scottish salmon, mentaiko, and bottarga shavings. As I die, I think about how that was totally worth it.
Matti: If Aviv would have me, I’d like to join him on that journey.
Lauren: Nah fam, give me a pumpernickel bagel with veggie cream cheese and some cucumber while I’m lounging on a chaise in a Parisian outdoor patio.
Nick: Scooped out cinnamon-raisin bagel filled with hundred dollar bills. Blueberry cream cheese on the side.
Could you write us a Haiku?
Evan: What is a haiku? I don’t know what that is so, how can i write one?
Nick: Remember CDs?
People would pay fifteen bucks
and just... scratch them up.
What are your tips for surviving NYC in the summertime?
Aviv: Japanese barley tea and shedding your dignity
Lauren: Learning to love your sweat. Body positivity here.
Nick: Cold showers, black-out curtains, remembering how miserable February is
Where do you normally go after a show, to a party or home to sleep?
Aviv: Our shows are already past my bedtime. I don’t know why anybody comes.
Matti: To the shed.
Nick: I’ll never say no to a post-show hang. The bars are open til at least 4, why not take advantage?
What for you constitutes a successful live performance?
Evan: Being real, there’s a direct relationship between how many people are there and how well our show goes. We will never play a bad set so long as there is a crowd of people feeding off of our energy and feeding it back to us. I love that about our music.
Aviv: I’d just add that sometimes 8 really energetic people are as good of a crowd as 80 normal people.
Nick: I think a successful live performance relies on our ability to listen to each other, so good stage sound is pivotal.
Which one of you is the most organized? Most forgetful? Most hungry?
Lauren: I think we’re all pretty darn hungry, snacks are a big part of our aesthetic.
Nick: Slack does most of our organization for us. Matti is the most forgetful.
Any final comments? (This is your electronic soapbox for one last answer.)
Evan: check out our upcoming EP Bubble!!
Nick: And come see us play live!