In the Valley Below exist at an intersection of traditional Americana folk and blues and postmodernly intellectual art pop. They don’t sound like they’re from Mars… but they certainly seem to be aggressively refusing to fit into any genre. And in terms of subject matter, they would seem to take cues from both Genet and The Bible. In the Valley Below are Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail. They met in LA, where they were playing in a “grungy guitar band,” before moving on to this latest, elegantly transgressive, project. They’re releasing a 4-song EP, Peaches, on September 17th. And while there’s actually little information to be found of the duo (although I did find out that they brew their own beer), they’re actually signed to Capitol Records and appeared on Letterman the other night (which you can see below). They have a small handful of US tour dates in October with White Lies (including two nights at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC). I was fortunate enough to get a chance to chat with the seemingly-about-to-explode duo recently, who are admirably humble and filled with short bursts of profundities.
Izzy Cihak: I must admit, there’s relatively little information available (even to critics) about In the Valley Below online. What is most important that potential fans know about the band?
In the Valley Below: We’re just getting used to people caring about anything we do. We hope the music will speak for itself but, if anyone wants to know more, the songs all mean a lot to us, personally. We wrote and recorded everything ourselves for ourselves, and never really expected more than our friends and family to hear them. However, like most artists, I think we prefer to share our stories with as many people as possible, and we are overjoyed that our gospel is branching out.
IC: Considering that you brew your own beer and that I’m a huge fan of beer, I have to ask if you have any particular favorite microbrews that you’ve encountered on your travels. Philly is a huge microbrew city.
ITVB: Yes. We make a point of trying local beer everywhere we go. There is way too much good beer to mention but, a couple standouts we remember are Crannóg Ales’ Backhand of God Stout from Canada and Wasatch Brewery’s Polygamy Porter from Utah. In Pennsylvania we loved Old Heathen from Weyerbacher Brewing Company.
IC: What can be expected of your debut LP, which is set to drop soon on Capitol?
ITVB: There is a wide spectrum of emotions, from hope to sadness, and love to regret. Some songs are very sexy, some are fun, and some are full of truths we may not want to face. Despite the emotional ups and downs, we wanted everything to have a curious beauty in its composition and arrangement.
IC: There have been a ton of male/female duos that have produced some of the best music of recent years. Are there any that you especially appreciate, whether or not they’re doing anything similar to yourselves?
ITVB: We always appreciate a good love song duet. A few favorites are “Don’t Give Up,” with Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, “Leather and Lace,” from Stevie Nicks and Don Henley, and “This Mess We’re In,” by PJ Harvey and Thom Yorke.
IC: What do you consider to be the band’s biggest influences?
ITVB: Relationships are our biggest influence, whether they are with each other, or strangers, or family. It’s that connection to other humans that we either embrace, or long for, and sometimes hide from or fight against.
IC: You have a handful of upcoming live appearances. What can be expected of the experience?
ITVB: You can expect to join us in the space we created, In The Valley Below. We set a mood and share an electricity with the audience. It’s chemistry and electrons and hormones. We don’t climb risers or stage dive, we offer ourselves to you in a more sensual way.
IC: What’s in the works next for In the Valley Below? What are your plans and hopes for 2014?
ITVB: We are preparing to tour for the rest of this year with our band. We will tour next year, sharing history and fantasy and congregating with the world.