With a band name specifically identifying one who has great courage or determination, Melbourne band I, Valiance live and breathe this through their creativity and their drive to do things in their own way. An immediate example of this courage is the unique approach that the band are taking with the release of their debut self-titled album. In the process of creation since 2012, I, Valiance are sharing the album in three parts, with I released in March, and II releasing today. We have the pleasure of premiering the music video for “I, The Enemy” from II, and also had the pleasure to speak with the band’s bassist Matias Morales about what drives I, Valiance.
Each part of the three-part album reveals more of the I, Valiance sound, with the work as a whole representing the experiences of the band members’ last six years on earth. With the relatively uncommon split release, Matias shares that this was inspired by the personal nature of the music; they’re wanting for people to take time to listen to each song. Matias also has a powerful association with the number three.
Calling it a ‘weird obsession’, Matias says it began when he was around ten years old. For Matias, 3 is about balance and unity in a nutshell. Raised as an only child, his family’s three members all have names beginning with ‘M’. If you turn those ‘M’s on their side, you get ‘333’ which has shown up repeatedly on I, Valiance’s online spaces and videos.
Going deeper into the topic (after I encouraged him to share about the ‘kind of daggy’ ideas) Matias referred to principles of Hermeticism, and Law Of Attraction; where the triad of thoughts, emotions, and actions focused on the same outcome have the potential to create results. He summed up the theory by saying, “If you have the heart to create something that’s genuine to you, the mind to execute that, and the guts to push it? Then you can get it somewhere.”
Using music as a coping mechanism, the members of I, Valiance are passionate in expressing the fact that they are undeniably human, which means that they are vulnerable and approachable. In this humanness, their music is like life: Unstructured and erratic. This theme of lack of structure persists through the entire album, in more ways than one.
The band’s line-up has been one of those unstructured elements, with I, Valiance having several vocalists since their formation. The band’s overriding ethos surrounding creativity, specifically in pushing boundaries and allowing creative freedom (aka creating weird shit) includes the concept of not feeling constrained by movements of members. In Matias’ words “Just letting it roll how it will roll”. II introduces Terence Kilner as the primary vocalist, with Matias Morales on bass, Krys Smith and David Freeland on guitar, and Gabe Houben on drums. II also features two guest vocal performances, by previous vocalist Mark Poida on “Three Daggers” and FLU3NT on “Crave Death Pt. 1”.
I, Valiance’s sound and genre lines are hard to put into words, due to their sound being a proud expression of the significant role that metal, hardcore, and punk music have played in their lives, as well as showcasing the hip hop and trap that Matias predominantly listens to, along with other musical inspirations.
There has been a persisting clown influence in I, Valiance songs. Matias shares his fascination in both exploring the way that we can have affection for villains, and also how clowns were created to be funny, yet have developed a creepy reputation. “I like that feeling. That carnivalesque sound really for me represents that feeling.”
The surf vibe is another example of I, Valiance ‘putting in whatever because it feels good’. Matias says “I love the late 1950s early 60s aesthetic in general and that surfy rock aesthetic. Plus there’s something super crimey and villainy about that as well.” It’s Matias’ own varied experiences with music that inspire these seemingly contrasting sounds to show up together. For example, being Latin American and growing up with genres like reggaeton, Matias was inspired to translate it into a heavy song. He sums it up by saying “It’s good to represent where we come from but there’s also no rules to this shit. We basically do whatever we feel like.”
Whatever We Feel Like / Whatever Creativity Feels Like
This ‘whatever we feel like’ stance isn’t driven by apathy or rebellion, nor even from a place of taking the piss – even though they definitely have fun with what they create. It comes from a place of surrendering to what is essentially an I, Valiance perspective of life, and an escape from the hyper-structured existences operating in society.
Matias refers to Tyler, The Creator as an important inspiration to how he approaches creativity. He sees Tyler as just following his own creative flow, even if it’s not understood, noticing how people are “always trying to figure it out, instead of just bathing in it and letting it be what it is.” As myself being one who ‘always tries to figure it out’, I couldn’t resist exploring this further with Matias, and in the process gained some insight into how he operates as a creator which flows into what we hear in I, Valiance’s music.
Kel: “What I would normally do as a writer or reviewer is try to understand where an artist is coming from. But would you say that some of your songs don’t necessarily have a ‘message’ that you’re trying to send. It’s more ‘This is how I feel right now and this is me putting it into music’?”
Matias: “That’s exactly what it is. Yeah. ‘This is current life. Here you go. If you can relate, you can relate. If you can’t, you can’t.’ If there’s a time where a powerful message does want to be conveyed through the music, we’ll do it. Dependent on the time and how we’re feeling.”
Kel: “In just hearing how you worded that, ‘if a powerful message wants to be conveyed’; do you have this approach to creativity to .. do with you what it wants?”
Matias: “Basically yeah.
Kel: “As opposed to ‘Okay, I need to create a song, so what can I think of that will work as a song’, you’re going ‘Okay, I’m completely open to..’ I don’t know, do you call it the creative flow or something?”
Matias: “Yeah the creative flow, whenever it comes.”
Kel: “And yeah just letting it be how it is.”
Matias: “Let it be how it is. Yeah. Because I feel like that’s about as genuine as you can get. And not so much thinking about whether it’ll sound right on the whole album, for instance. I like for each song to have its own identity. Just constantly doing whatever, basically.”
“I, The Enemy”
When he was younger, Matias sought an escape and turned to writing music relevant to how he felt, without having an eye upon genre. In doing this, he had a realisation: Music is art. From this Matias sees genre confines or boundaries as irrelevant, with the product of this clearly present in the band’s sound, and undeniably apparent in the 4:06 of the music video for “I, The Enemy” (which has been meshed with “Crave Death Pt. 1” featuring FLU3NT).
Carrying a similar visual vibe to previous video “I Am Free”, Matias shares that the persistent theme is how random it is. “We ended up just getting together one weekend, and managed to get our drummer’s brother and his friend [Curtis Houben and Kane Panić] to come down with a camera. We just filmed a whole lot of random crap that we thought would look cool, basically.”
The presence of a mask is another thing that carries through from the video of “I Am Free” through to “I, The Enemy”. “It’s a white creepy looking mask that Mark wears to hide his identity. Our vocalist situation has always been pretty elusive. We’ve always kept it under wraps. We’ve tried to keep it kind of secret, because of how messy it’s been. It’s again showing that we can do whatever we want. We want to switch up vocalists through the album, because I think it would be fun. Our current vocalist has the same mask on in the two videos. The vocalist mask, I guess.”
In “I, The Enemy”, horroresque clown fantasia meets grooving riffs and searing eeriness. The multi-layered feast of blistering heaviness has vocals so heavy that they weigh down the track and pull plunging riffs down with them. Shifting into a higher gear, the track’s pace is soon lifted yet punchy, with swirling and swift guitar accents a stand-out. Matias says “I, The Enemy” is about trying to “get through shit, but self doubt is such a big thing”.
Listening to II is a six-track journey through a varied terrain of rattle-your-car-windows bass heaviness, rapped lyrics, hip hop beats, blistering heaviness, gritty growls and pig squeals, unsettling and dark atmospheres, and out-of-body distance. Amongst the heaviness exists melodies of raindrop lightness, and surf vibes with twanging guitar and upbeat pace.
More melodic and ethereal, “Crave Death Pt. 1” is a shimmering piece of music where distinct bass brings warmth to something light, curious, and forward moving. Drum beats signify a drop into a stronger sound, and the track becomes a space-like journey, before we hit a rap flow and pulsing bass. “A lot of us like electronic music,” Matias shared, “I felt like going super synth heavy. I’m glad it sounds like space. That’s what I was going for.”
While originally one single track that wasn’t quite working for the band, “Crave Death” has been split into two: A rich nostalgia part, and a ‘chaotic bullshit’ part, with a chord progression as the bond between the two parts. On this, Matias shares “I like my chord progressions. I’m super big on nostalgia, and there’s certain chord progressions that make me feel like a kid again. The one in “Crave Death Pt. 1″ makes me feel like a kid again. Like life being magical.”
“Crave Death Pt. 2” is the aftermath of the magic, where childhood expectations are crushed by adulthood, with fitting sonic heaviness to match. Matias seeks to find his own magic again with music, as well as appreciating the way that music inspires connections with people that he wouldn’t necessarily find.
As a jumpstart into enjoying II, enjoy the creatively driven, ‘whatever’ly-chaotic, ever-unpredictable I, Valiance in full force with our premiere of the “I, The Enemy”/”Crave Death Pt. 1” music video.
[Hey Ski Mask, Welly, and Buddy. – Love, Matias]