Just as the post-album release clarity sinks in, VALLEYHEART frontman Kevin Klein sits in his Montreal home. Sipping coffee from a small and modest mug, the humble songwriter is momentarily occupied “sorry I was just petting my cat” – he seems as soft as the vocals he voices on new album Heal My Head. The album presents fans with a whole new range of emotions not truly voiced so far by the trio, they’re soft and delicate with references to time and coping with age – this is an all new VALLEYHEART.
What does Kevin’s clarity have to say now then? “It feels good, it feels like a release of many things that have been worked on for the last couple years, musically speaking it’s all out there. As a songwriter too, I feel like there’s always a blockade that happens with songs when you don’t release it and when you put something out, even after Friday when the album came out I picked up my guitar and the ideas were flowing.” Just like that the floodgates for new ideas have been opened already, even just a few anxious days later.
Despite having only a short eleven days recording time for their previous release Everyone I’ve Ever Loved, this time round VALLEYHEART had a plentiful three weeks. All of sudden the ball starts to roll with the recurring theme of time. What if you missed something? If you could’ve done something better, if you could’ve done something differently? “Your favourite thing is always gonna be whatever you wrote five minutes ago or the day before, so you’re always gonna think ‘damn I could’ve put that on the record’. But I think I view songs differently now, yes it’s putting your best stuff out but it’s also a snapshot of time right?”
Most people are obsessed with the concept of borrowed time, they rush and stress just at the thought of deadlines but Klein seems content. “We had three weeks in that first studio, we also had another week and a half at another studio that I rented out and engineered all the stuff myself. We felt like we had the time to explore cool creative things and ended up with that nice balance of long and short.
With VALLEYHEART‘s sonic change of pace, moving to a more gentle melodic sound, some would argue that messaging in the tracks are easier to interpret and understand. Klein says, “I sort of see the themes on the record in the same way as what we were just talking about, having themes on a record is so beautiful and I try to have them in every record but I also think it’s cool when you just write naturally. Not trying to write into those themes that you have in your mind but to just write what’s in your heart, then I think a beautiful thing happens when good songwriting happens, those themes will become known later and you’ll kind of look back on the stuff you’ve written and be like ‘oh that’s what was going on in my life, there’s an arc there. Maybe I didn’t even intend for that to happen’.”
Quickly he opens up, becomes more earnest and shows his love for songwriting, he begins to talk beautifully about a couple songs from the new album showing the care and nurturing that goes into their creation. “I wrote The Numbers which is the second song on the album and it’s about status and achievement but a song like Jacket is about weather and mood relationships. Seemingly those were unrelated but just trusting myself when writing the songs, I was hoping there would be a link that would tie everything together. Later on in the process I started seeing that I was writing a lot about our mental state and time, how they relate to each other and how when we feel pressed on time we might start feeling this anxiety of not having enough time.” In this moment he becomes completely candid and exposes the real emotion behind these themes and concepts, doing it with passion in his voice. “The relationship with time, mental health and mood and getting older started emerging as themes, so to have that trust that I spoke about was really cool. I found the themes instead of creating them for the album. I think the album became something about being present and living in the moment as we grow older. It’s really fucking hard, harder than anything than I’ve ever undertaken in my life.”
By now Kevin has proved that writing the new album was more than just searching for popularity and praise, in fact that was the last reason he wrote, he did it for the love and the emotion that it brings him. To communicate a message to others and as a form of therapy for himself during what many consider the world’s most isolated and lonely moments. “When you write for yourself I think there’s this magic that happens, especially when you and your crew and the people around you like the outcome, this energy transcends into the music and I think people can hear that. If we didn’t write for ourselves I think people would like it for a couple of weeks but then would start to hear a phoneyness to it and that doesn’t have longevity in its best interest.”
“That’s what music has always been for me ever since I was a teenager writing songs in my bedroom. It’s always been this release of stories; funny, traumatic, anything that has happened in life lyrically speaking has been a release that helps me move on from certain situations. As long as it stays that way for me things will be good, seeing it that way is important but not everybody writes that way. I think we’re trying to write the realest thing that we can find and I hope that it connects with people, if not we’ll just see what happens then.”
VALLEYHEART are clearly, funnily enough, are a band that have heart and clearly value the love of what they do more than anything else – in reality there isn’t a better reason to be in a band than that.
Heal My Head is out now via Tooth & Nail.
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