Toronto indie-pop band Valley are ready to take their newfound success to new heights but the view from the top isn’t always as sweet as you’d think.
Following the success of “Like 1999,” their previous viral TikTok-friendly hit, “SOCIETY” sees the band imagining a future where they become global musical icons, becoming increasingly exhausted by fame and fortune as they are thrown into escalating ridiculous scenarios.
Lyrically, the track sees Valley sarcastically approaching modern-day materialism and ticking off the boxes of party-centric subject material to include in a hit song. Ironically, however, it just might be the band’s most pop-oriented and infectious song yet. Directed by Oliver Whitfield-Smith, the members of Valley find themselves wondering if the disputes with executives, daring paparazzi escapes, and unending schedule commitments are all worth it.
We checked in with Valley’s two lead vocalists, Rob Laska and Karah James, to discuss the loaded concepts behind the song/video and learn about plans for their next album and tour.
What was the driving creative vision behind the video concept for “SOCIETY”?
There’s this video by the band Sum 41 for their song “Still Waiting” that we all remember watching when we were in grade school and it was definitely a big inspiration for the “SOCIETY” video, channeling that record label vs. band narrative and playing with it. The video really came together quite easily, which is always a good feeling. We had our label’s blessing and they actually really wanted “SOCIETY” to be the single, so the irony is real!
Our incredible director and collaborator Oliver Whitfield-Smith sent us the treatment a few weeks before filming and we freaked out. We were really trying to channel the song lyrics and have fun with the concept, almost like an SNL skit… A lot of the lyrical imagery allowed Oliver to write in things like the TMZ clips, the money falling all over the place and the “big wig” label executive scenes played by our bassist Alex Dimauro. He really got into the role, the whole day on set he had like an Austin Powers voice and was bossing everyone around.
Both the song and its video are clearly tongue-in-cheek, with the song having one of the band’s poppiest and most anthemic choruses yet it lyrically criticizes everything about the modern hit-making process at the same time. Are you guys secretly hoping for an incredibly ironic hit single, or would you prefer to stay out of the headlines if you had a choice?
“SOCIETY” came from a real place of frustration. It’s a moment in time captured for us, so if our perspective happens to resonate with a lot of people then that’s a dream come true! We’ve always been obsessed with pop songs that ride the line and juxtapose themselves sonically and lyrically. While writing “SOCIETY,” we talked a lot about songs like “All Star” by Smash Mouth & “You Get What You Give” by The New Radicals — songs that, on the surface, are catchy and upbeat but if you break down the lyrics, there’s some frustration and zooming out happening. With “SOCIETY,” it was important to us that we presented a specific and serious subject in an ironic way sonically with a touch of self realization and analysis. That’s what really makes the song shine and hit us on an emotional level.
Valley as a band is really good at TikTok, which has become a significant vehicle for rapid music promotion. There’s even a choreographed dance ready for the app in the video. How has TikTok affected the way you approach your music?
TikTok has been incredibly helpful for us. I think we’re also still so early in its life and potential. There’s so much that will develop and evolve from the platform over the next few years. We’ve really been just on a constant search of trial and error, discovering what works for us and what doesn’t. TikTok is very much a discovery tool for us and Instagram is where that discovery turns into community and keeping up with us. We saw that in full effect with “Like 1999,” which went viral by accident pretty much. We learned a lot from that experience.
How did you guys navigate the pandemic as a band? Was it difficult spending time apart or did it inspire new perspectives in regards to the way you approach your music?
It was difficult at first, yes. Before the pandemic hit we had been together basically 24/7 since we started the band and it was really hard at first to be away from each other. But in hindsight I think having the space from each other was really good, because it gave us an opportunity to work on ourselves as individuals. We were able to get a house and isolate together in April 2020 and make “sucks to see you doing better” and then again in February of 2021 to make even more music. Living with each other just feels like summer camp.
What is the rest of the summer going to look like for you guys?
We are working on producing some new music for the rest of June. July and August will be mostly preparing for our live set and spending time with our friends in the city — going on bike rides, hanging at the beach, having bonfires, all that fun stuff hopefully.
Anything else you’d like us to know about the band or your perfectly poppy new single?
More than ever before, we’re excited to release some of the songs we’ve had sitting in our Dropbox for such a long time. They are so special to us for so many reasons and we can’t wait to share them with our wonderful and supportive fans. We love you all so much. Come see us on tour if you can. We’d love to meet you, and thanks for reading this interview!