This Friday songstress/guitarist virtuoso Laura Marling returns to Philadelphia for a performance at Theatre of Living Arts. However, support act Valley Queen, who has spent the past month on the road with Marling, is equally worth getting excited about. The LA-based band, fronted by Natalie Carol, boasts a blend of SoCal sunshine pop and gritty Americana rock, not dissimilar to contemporaries like The Wild Reeds and Heartless Bastards. Valley Queen are currently working on finishing their debut LP and planning a lot of touring for the near future. Last month I got a chance to chat with Natalie Carol about the early years of Valley Queen after opening night of their tour with Laura Marling.
Izzy Cihak: This band is still relatively new. What have been some of the highlights of Valley Queen for you so far?
Natalie Carol: Playing Vancouver last night was pretty cool. Our first international show, at the Vogue Theatre. There have been so many cool moments. Flying out to D.C. For the weekend to do NPR’s Tiny Desk was memorable.
Izzy: How did you all originally come together?
Natalie: I met Neil in college. We’ve been playing music together for over seven years. It’s only been the last three years that Valley Queen has come to be. We met Shawn through the music community in Echo Park and Gerry has played on and off with the band for years before becoming a permanent member.
Izzy: Have you noticed patterns in the kinds of people who most like, or “best get,” your sounds so far?
Natalie: I think VQ really resonates with women. I know men like it too, certainly, but I think I’m writing from a place of femininity that resonates with women, even older women. I love that.
Izzy: Is there anything you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about your process of writing and recording together, or just your aim as artists?
Natalie: It’s important for me to write from a place of enjoyment and catharsis, not for the sake of making more material to feed the “band machine.” It’s a practice of being patient and gentle.
Izzy: What would you consider to be the band’s most significant influences, both musical and otherwise?
Natalie: Well we certainly work with the traditional rock n roll band setup, so the lineage of American and British rock n roll are naturally infused into what we do. Led Zeppelin was my first love and still pushes my music forward.
Izzy: I really like all of your music videos, especially “Stars Align” and “My Man.” What is it that your visuals draw inspiration from? How do the ideas behind your videos generally come about?
Natalie: Music videos are tricky and have a similar alchemical nature as songwriting. The ideas for those videos were loose, then we, as well as the talented directors, just felt our way through it intuitively. Intuition plays a big role in any of our creations.
Izzy: You just kicked off your tour with Laura Marling. How exciting is that? Also, how good of a “tour mate” does she make?
Natalie: Well we’ve only played one show so far! We are excited to tour with a completely British band, comparing notes on the American and British musical experiences.
Izzy: Are there any shows you’re especially excited to play, or just cities you’re especially excited to visit or revisit on this tour?
Natalie: Canada is new territory for our band. I hear wonderful things about Montreal.
Izzy: What can we expect of the live experience when you play the TLA?
Natalie: We all love Philly. The rooms we are playing with Laura are so beautiful and historically rich, I’m excited to see what’s up with TLA, see how it feels.
Izzy: And finally, what’s in the works for after this tour wraps? How are you hoping and planning to spend the second half of 2017?
Natalie: Lots of touring planned for the summer. We are sitting on a full-length record we are anxious to record. We are in chats about how to get back in the studio, there are so many new sounds to share.