In a first for Weirdo Wasteland, here is a premiere of the video for ‘The Other Girls’ by Valentine Dial. The dreamy nostalgia of the song and the heady aesthetic makes for a winning combo. This song is well worth a listen.
I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I like songs that boast that throwback feeling – being transported back to where memories and emotions that remain ingrained in the mind were first born. One of the things music does so well is tap into those inner thoughts, drawing them out with a note, a phrase, a movement – allowing you to indulge in a time long passed. Valentine Dial is one of those bands that manage to create music that has this effect.
Valentine Dial is the moniker of singer and songwriter Thomas Bryce, a young creative spirit that has spent a few years on a journey of musical self-discovery. Though new to the game, Thomas is a capable songwriter, one that can blend nostalgia-inducing elements with clean and melodic music – a little bit folk, a little bit ambient. ‘The Other Girls’ is Valentine Dial’s first offering, a track that is a well-composed and listenable. The song combines elements of ethereality while still being grounded and present. It’s a song that makes me think that if Grizzly Bear and The Ocean Party got together, this is something they’d come up with. ‘The Other Girls’ has been receiving airplay on community radio, but Thomas is unveiling the accompanying visuals for the song today – and has been generous enough to allow me to premiere it here. Watch:
To get a better sense of what makes Thomas tick, I sent him a few questions. Here he reveals his affinity towards music crafted by similar wandering troubadours such as Nick Drake and Elliot Smith, the influences of both is apparent in ‘The Other Girls’. His earnestness and insightful nature shows through in his song, but for those needed more the chat is below.
Tell me a bit about your background, have you played in any other band?
I set myself up on a little tour of England when I was 19 as a kind of music gap-year. I think with aspirations to be the next Nick Drake or Jose Gonzalez or something — all I found were dusty tired old venues and lots of whiskery old men who wanted me to sing sea shanties so that was a little disappointing. I did get to visit Nick’s grave though in Tanworth-in-Arden the most fan boy I’ve ever done. Was totally worth it.
I also kicked it around the indie rock scene in Brisbane when I studied Music at QUT. I played in a band called Denmark. Valentine Dial is my first serious project.
Are there any musical touchstones for your style? How did you go about crafting your dream-pop sound?
At the end of the day I’m a sucker for vocal harmony and melody. So I really look up to The Beatles and to a lesser extent Brian Wilson. Elliott Smith is also a huge influence so is the Manchester New wave scene from the 80’s onwards. I’m naturally drawn to melancholia so I listen to a lot of bands that write melancholy stuff, for me it’s a great genre because it balances introspection with more traditional pop like sensibilities hooky guitar or synth and pop melodic structure.
I listen to Daniel Rossen, Matt Berninger and think ‘I want to be a better lyricist’. I listen to Peter Gabriel or Beck and think ‘I want to be a better producer’. Taking from all these places and cramming it through my own sausage grinder of emotion and experience is how I make my own musical bratwurst, to use a food analogy.
Your sound and ‘The Other Girls’ has that immediate nostalgic feel – do you draw much from personal experience and memory for your work?
I definitely try to always convey an honesty or fragility in my song writing. I don’t intentionally think “I want to write a sad or laid back song” it just tends to grow those type of legs and walk away.
‘The Other Girls’ is obviously an emotive song, is it based on particular story? What themes are you touching on here?
I actually get quite emotional singing it, I really like that I can get lost in music and performance. I suppose like a lot of my lyrics I has flashes of real moments from my life but I tend to write visually in my head, I tend to jump around a lot most of what I write about is feeling.
Specifically ‘The Other Girls’ is about trying to be something you are not, trying to fit into a mould or expectation from friends/family society and then mourning or loss of perhaps the true self. A lot of people lead double lives, oppress themselves, allow themselves to be oppressed.
I feel as if it’s a song about being pushed away – like claiming you don’t want anybody else, but not being believed. Am I close in that assessment?
I really like that interpretation; I might steal that because it sounds much smarter than mine. Rejection is definitely a big part of that song yes.
What can you tell me about the clip? How did you go about creating a visual representation of the song?
I’m a little embarrassed to say it’s just iMovie and I spent two weeks combing the bedrock of the internet for public domain footage that I could splice into a coherent story. If you look up the film clip ‘Angeline’ by Bearhug I was kind of trying to do something as interesting. I used over 60 films and thought I had lost it all in a program crash. That was a bad day. I recovered it though.
What comes after this? What’s next for Valentine Dial?
I really want to focus on my live set specifically using live looping and varied instrumentation to flesh out my sound, so lots of shows I hope I have a heap of releases planned for 2016.
Valentine Dial will be launching the single tonight (Wednesday November 18) at Some Velvet Morning in Clifton Hill, supporting Mitch Dean. Check out the details here.