Joy Valencia is a veritable Jill of all trades when it comes to making music. As a singer, songwriter, producer, musician, and co-writer (among other designations, we’re sure), there seems to be nothing that she can’t, doesn’t, or won’t do. It’s this type of hands-on approach rarely seen in other artists that appeals Valencia and her overall style to us and her fans. It is also an approach so genuine and deeply ingrained within the her process of music making that it can be sensed almost automatically when listening to any given set of tracks bearing her name.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Valencia has self-expressed an interest in singing since the single digits (read: the age of four) and like any child that likes to take toys apart and put them back together, she did a little experimentation with song structure and vocal layering (think recording upon one’s voice over and over again). Currently based in Los Angeles, California, she has since continued the experimentation, largely without the assistance of a record label, but she herself would probably be the first to say that she is far from a one-woman show.
With husband Alejandro Valencia – with whom she co-produces, co-writes, and instrumentally collaborates – as well as her fans – through word-of-mouth, occasional fund-raising, and, well, blatant adoration – she has gained a sufficient team of like-minded supporters. More importantly she has been able to encourage and showcase the art of music-making out of the love of doing so without compromise or losing self in the process. And if it hasn’t been established enough, when it comes to Joy Valencia, it is all about the process.
It’s been exciting times for her these last twelve months or so: in September 2010 she won Stereofame.com’s Artist of the Month; her music video for smash single “Don’t Wake the Lion” debuted this past April; and when she is not treating us to such tracks as the hauntingly sweet “If You Love Me” and vaudeville-inspired “It’s A Beautiful Day” on YouTube and other social media outlets, she is working – hard – on her debut album. Joy Valencia is inspiring, with authentic talent, and a woman on the artistic move – all qualifiers in being our BeatCrave Fav of the Month. Check her out in our exclusive interview below.
BeatCrave: When did you realize that music was your calling?
Joy Valencia: I was four years old. Thank you, Michael Jackson<3
BC: What was your job before becoming a full-time musician/singer/songwriter?
JV: This has always been my focus, but when I lived in Chicago, I was also a SAG/AFTRA session singer & an actress on national TV commercials.
BC: What is the process of songwriting for you?
JV: Usually, I hear it in my head – a melody & the “vibe” (with chords & some instrumentation). And some words slip out, sometimes a phrase. Then I try to figure out what the song wants to be about and the form. The rest is filling in the pieces of the puzzle with the lyrics. I sometimes co-write. “Your Little Habit” happened because Alejandro was noodling on a keyboard & I loved what he came up with & just had to write to it. Actually, this is how “If You Love Me” started as well!
BC: Your aesthetic style seems to make as much of an impression as your audible style (such as in your music video for “Don’t Wake the Lion”). How much of an importance would you place on your visual aesthetic, performance-wise?
JV: I love art, vintage clothing, and makeup, what can I say. [laughs] How we dress is just another way to express ourselves. I think music and style go hand-in-hand.
BC: On that note, do you have a favorite article of clothing or beauty ritual, something that you can’t do without?
JV: I’m a big fan of eyeliner. LOTS of it. And I like to curl my hair (it’s stick-straight).
BC: I really appreciate that your work is so organic, and truly independent. Is there any advice you can give to any musical acts trying to get their work noticed?
JV: Thanks so much! Things really started flowing when I decided to whole-heartedly follow my passion and make music that I can get creative with & have fun with. Not writing for the radio or comparing myself to what’s hot right now. I care a lot about strong songwriting, musicality, vibe, and good production.
Regarding getting your work noticed -
The internet is a big party, are you at it? Go where the people are. My favorites right now are Twitter, Facebook, & YouTube. And there are some great sites for independent music. Check out www.onesheet.com – made for musicians to use as a website that connects all your social media pages together and updates on its own.
Don’t be afraid to make friends on the internet. I can’t tell you the amount of cool people I’ve met on Twitter. It can change your life if you’re open to meeting people. Cherish your supporters.
BC: Now for a few random questions: What is your favorite type of music to listen to, to recommend, to play at parties (etc.)?
JV: To me, collecting music is collecting art. I’m in love with music from the past. My old standby on Pandora is Harry Nilsson Radio (try it!). Most of my favorite stuff is from the late 60s. Give me harmonies – The Association, The Beatles, The Zombies, The 5th Dimension, The Beach Boys…
But I love a ton of other music as well. The Everly Brothers, Ray Charles, Randy Newman… Lately I’m really into the makeout songs of the late 50s / early 60s. Stuff like “These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding & “I Only Have Eyes for You” by The Flamingos. Also diggin’ John Barry, Judy Garland, Leonard Bernstein, The Andrews Sisters & The Boswell Sisters.
BC: How did you spend your Fourth of July?
JV: On a boat! One of the only times I stepped out of the studio to see the light of day! (so far this summer)
BC: And what’s next for you? Recording, performances, some coveted time off?
JV: Working on my album right now. We’re producing it ourselves, so it takes time to do it right. You gotta give each song what it wants. I just counted, and we’re focusing on 15 songs! (not including covers or the many others that didn’t make the cut) When I finish, there will be some major celebrating.
Photo by Sean MacCuish