Unseen Plays: Welcome Valere! We are delighted to have you featured on our blog. Thanks for taking the time to be here. Let’s start off by asking about your origin story. Tell us a bit about where you are from, how you got started in music, and what led you to where you are now.
Valere: Hi fam! It’s good to be here 🙂 I’m Shana Graham, born in Cebu Philippines and living in Christchurch, New Zealand. I have loved music ever since I was young, and I started writing songs when I was about 14 years old. I loved it so much that I studied it at university, which led to Valere being born. Now I’m here, learning and growing all the same.
Unseen Plays: Tell us a bit about your songwriting and production process. How do you get started and finish your songs/tracks?
Valere: I’m a melody writer, so I usually start off with a melody when I write songs, then fill in with lyrics. This time around though, I really tried to up my lyrics game and did the opposite – I wrote lyrics first and then put a melody around it. Production wise, I start with whatever I’m playing at the time, whether it’s drum samples or synth lines.
Unseen Plays: You give us a Nelly Furtado type of vibe and we think listeners would completely enjoy your music. Can you give us a few names of artists or bands that have influenced your own music?
Valere: Amazing! I love Nelly Furtado and her ‘Whoa, Nelly!’ phase! My favourite artist of all time is Lauryn Hill. Nowadays I am listening to a lot of Madison Cunningham, Natalia Lafourcade and Caroline Polachek, trying to weave in indie-folk with pop and everything in between.
Unseen Plays: Your last single from October 2022 titled Sober is just as enjoyable as your new single. Let’s talk about that song a bit. What is the song about and is this just a single or part of a future EP?
Valere: Thanks so much! Sober was a song I wrote after I had a conversation with my husband about anxiety – he described not having anxiety as being ‘sober’, and I really liked that idea of wanting to be sober from anxiety one day and trying my best. It’s the first single from an EP coming out this year!
Unseen Plays: When we headed to your Spotify page, we noticed that your main photo is you and a baby. A very sentimental look at your life. Can you tell us a bit about this inside look at your life and what it means to you?
Valere: Yes! I am holding my beautiful daughter in the photo. Speaking of the EP, it’s about the joys and gold you can find in home life. My family is super important to me, and even more so that they have actually propelled me to make more music and do more with it. I totally thought I’d have to give it all up after having kids. However, they have a funny way of pushing you to pursue your dreams so that you can lead by example!
Unseen Plays: Okay, so now let’s get into the juicy stuff. When you came to us, you brought your latest single titled “Stuck In My Head”. What is this song about and what can we expect from it musically? Who was involved? When will it be released and what will be the most convenient place to listen to this incredible new track?
Valere: ‘Stuck In My Head’ is a love song about long distances and traveling the distance metaphorically speaking. It’s really just the story of how my husband and I came together (we had a LDR in the beginning). Music was a really big thing in our relationship, and it still is, so I wanted to pay homage to that in the song.
The song was produced by myself and an amazing musician Luigi Balazo who is based in Cebu – he’s in some awesome bands over there and is just incredible! It was also mixed and mastered by my long-time collaborator, Michael Collier. We really wanted to give it a 2000’s vibe. It actually started to shape up that way after I found an amazing drum sample and then Luigi just upped the 2000’s game with all of the DJ foley and cool instrumentals.
The song came out on the 16th of March (which is actually when my husband and I started dating!) and you can listen to it on Spotify and Bandcamp!
Unseen Plays: You recently got signed by Enemy Love Records. How has that been for you emotionally and professionally?
Valere: It’s been so amazing to be a part of a community that supports you musically and just on a friendship level. Music can be a lonely road, and so to have that support means the world!
Unseen Plays: With your upcoming release not too far off, what can we expect from Valere this year? Are we getting an EP or an album? A music video? Tell us all about it!
Valere: You could get all of the above in the coming year…it’s all in the works and it really depends on how fast all of this happens. Rest assured, I’m coming with the goods!!
Unseen Plays: You have several releases, starting in 2014. You have also entered songwriting competitions in the past. Tell us a bit about being a semi-finalist and how this has shaped your music over the years.
Valere: I was a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition one year, and it was such an affirmation of the kind of stuff I was writing at the time. The song I entered was one that I was most proud of, and so it was great that others felt like it was special in some way too!
Unseen Plays: Do you play any live shows? If you are playing some shows this year, where can we expect those to happen and when?
Valere: Yes! I’m playing a tour in my home country in May with my Enemy Love Records fam, and maybe another tour in August for the EP release…
Unseen Plays: All right, it’s time to end this interview with our random question. If you were a bird, what type of bird would you be? And why?
Valere: Whatever Nelly Furtado’s bird was! Just kidding. I think I would be, boringly enough, a mother hen haha! Just chilling with all the chicks and eggs, living the farm life dream
Unseen Plays: Finally, where can listeners find you online and what’s the most convenient place to stream and buy your music + merch?