Valebol | Interview | “Harmonies of Joy”

Uncategorized June 19, 2024

Valebol | Interview | “Harmonies of Joy”

Valebol is a dynamic musical duo from Chicago whose blend of groove-based pop tunes is as infectious as it is uplifting.

Comprising Vivian McConnell, known for her indie rock stylings as V.V. Lightbody, and Daniel Villarreal, acclaimed for his work with Dos Santos and Ida y Vuelta, Valebol’s debut self-titled album is poised to captivate audiences with its fusion of Casio-driven jams and blissful slow burners. Come along with us as we explore how they create, what inspires them, and their journey in making music that captures the essence of freedom and joy.

“The album explores various sonic directions”

Valebol’s self-titled album was released on April 5 via Otherly Love Records. Could you discuss the amount of time and effort that went into its creation?

This record has been in the making for quite some time! We began writing these songs in 2016/2017. Valebol had our first live show in 2019, and we started demoing the record at home around that time. We were approached by Elliot Bergman to produce our record at his studio outside of Chicago, and we were able to kick off the album process thanks to a grant from DCASE (Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events). It took about two years to complete the record. We faced some scheduling difficulties due to the pandemic, but we took our time and felt it was worth it to create the record we envisioned.

What inspired the creation of Valebol, and how did the collaboration between Daniel Villarreal and Vivian McConnell come about?

Our formation was really impromptu. Sometimes, Daniel would throw parties that often ended with jam sessions in the basement. I (Vivian) started messing around with Daniel’s dad’s Casio from the 70s, and Daniel would play grooves. Something just clicked for us. We decided to start writing songs in a very low-pressure manner. We lived just a block apart in Bridgeport, Chicago, and I would run over to Daniel’s place to play, even in the deep winter. At one point, we almost called our band “Inner Tube.” We knew we wanted to create music that would make people move their bodies.

Can you share more about the creative process behind this album? Could you offer insight into the overarching concept or story behind Valebol’s upcoming album, and how each track contributes to this narrative?

We always wanted Valebol to be a project with low pressure and feel-good vibes. When we started Valebol, I had been writing quite serious breakup songs as V.V. Lightbody, so I was really eager to create songs that were lighter both musically and lyrically—like dolphins, being in a rowboat, or comparing oneself to a pressure cooker, etc. I think this playfulness permeates the music… each track represents a different world we created together. We wrote all the songs in the same room and collaborated on some of the lyrics. While there isn’t a single overarching lyrical theme, the album as a whole is a genuine collaboration that expresses joy and showcases the fluid nature of our emotions and musical inspirations.

How do you navigate incorporating diverse influences into your music while maintaining a cohesive sound? How does this diverse cultural influence manifest in Valebol’s musical style?

Daniel grew up in Panama, and I’m from rural Illinois, so we certainly have our musical differences. However, we’ve leaned into these contrasts to create something truly unique, often pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. Being a duo helps us achieve cohesion, especially in live performances. Despite sounding full on stage, there are limitations to the number of sounds two people can produce. The album explores various sonic directions, which helps to establish distinct atmospheres for each track.

Could you discuss the significance of the title ‘Valebol’ and its relation to the themes explored in your music?

“Valebol” literally translates to “Okay Ball” or “Sure Ball,” which aligns perfectly with our approach as a “yes band” that embraces experimentation. Whether it’s crafting a song in 7 about the pulp of an orange or incorporating 8 bars of disco, we enjoy pushing boundaries and exploring limitless possibilities in our songwriting. It’s all about having fun and embracing creative freedom.

“We love to experiment and try out different ideas”

What role does experimentation play in Valebol’s music-making process, especially considering the incorporation of unconventional elements like flute alongside synths and bongos?

We love to experiment and try out different ideas—that’s how all these songs came together. I never came into a Valebol rehearsal with a fully composed song. There was a lot of trial and error, especially in figuring out how to make our live set exciting as a duo. Valebol is a space where we can freely experiment, and we both feel inspired to explore new things. It can be challenging at times, but personally, I enjoy the process of playing keys (bass synth & Casio), flute, singing, and looping all at once.

What are some future plans for Valebol?

We hope to tour as much as possible this year after the record is released! While we’re eager to start writing LP2 soon, our main focus right now is on this upcoming release.

Let’s end this interview with some of your favorite albums. Have you found something new lately that you would like to recommend to our readers?

Daniel is asleep on the couch right now, so I’ll hype him up. His new solo album, ‘Lados B,’ is incredible. Personally, I’ve been busy with writing, recording, and learning music, so that has been occupying most of my listening time. However, when I do listen to music, I’ve been gravitating towards gentle and soothing albums like Rozi Plain’s ‘Prize’ and Adeline Hotel’s ‘Hot Fruit.’ I’m also really enjoying the guitar record by Duffy X Uhlmann and Bex Burch’s latest album.

Do you have any active side-projects going on at this point?

My solo project is called V.V. Lightbody and Daniel has his solo project (Daniel Villarreal) and also Dos Santos. V.V. & Dos Santos are both working on albums right now so look out for those in the future.

Klemen Breznikar

Headline photo: Gryphon Halley

Valebol Official Website / Instagram / Bandcamp
Otherly Love Records Official Website / Instagram / Bandcamp / YouTube

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