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Valise Hopes To Add Texture And Contrast To Rock Shows

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Anna Lee Photography
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Rock concerts will often provide listeners with two or three bands which play in a similar style. One Dallas-based group hopes that music lovers will opt for a more eclectic experience when going to a show. 

Listen to a few measures from any song by Valise and one thing is unmistakable: This is not an R&B or soul band. And yet the group is currently on the road supporting acclaimed R&B vocalist Macy Gray. Valise vocalist Vince Penick says that signing up for the tour came down to this: The band wanted to give concertgoers a night to remember.

“We’ve played on shows where it’s the same three bands back to back,” Penick says. “It can be kind of exhausting and kind of takes away from an overall musical experience. So, after talking about this, we said, ‘Yes. Let’s do this. Let’s see what happens.’ Obviously, she’s a Grammy-winning artist, she’s incredibly talented. We just thought, ‘There’s a lot to learn there for us.’”

Although the tour is still in its infancy, Penick says that concertgoers are appreciative of the differences between the openers and the headliner.

“Even though the demographic isn’t necessarily the typical one for us, I feel like the response has been kind of overwhelmingly positive thus far,” he says.

Valise’s recent album Young Bloomer has been drawing attention to the group for much of 2015 with its brand of ambient pop, as heard on the song “Monster.” A favorite of many listeners, the song had a somewhat labored birth, Penick says.

“We actually wrote that song a long time ago, probably in 2012, I would say,” he says. “We wanted to mix this kind of ambient, kind of jazzy vibe with this beat that felt almost hip-hop or glitch-hop with cut up drums. The idea for it was to just be this wave of ambiance and to have the drums come through heavy and let the lyrics carry the rest of the song.”

The record closes with “Airport, Part I” and “Airport Part II,” which began as two distinct pieces of music and then, over time, became companion pieces.

“We had ‘Airport, Part I’ before recording it in the studio,” he says. “We had a riff that kind of matched. It’s the main riff in ‘Airport Part II.’ We just thought, ‘Let’s see what we can do.’ That song took so long, we actually recorded a completely different sounding song with that same riff and it didn’t end up working. It didn’t end up working for us, and we had to go back into the studio and start from scratch. That ended up being ‘Airport Part II’ as we know it.”

Valise’s home base of Dallas is not the music capital that Austin has been. Asked if he sees that changing, Penick comes across as optimistic.

“I think that we still have to prove to people that Dallas is cool too,” he says. “You have incredible musicians coming out of Texas. Dallas is kind of the underdog, but St. Vincent came out of Dallas. Leon Bridges came out of Dallas. We have a lot of artists that are really kicking ass right now. It definitely is an uphill battle, but I think once we play, people trust us a little bit more that Dallas is cool.”

Update:? Due to a snowstorm, Valise will not be able to open for Macy Gray tonight. Barleycorn's has released the following statement:

We've just received word that Valise got stuck in the yesterdays snow storm that hit Wyoming and will be unable to make the show. However, Macy Gray drove all night through the snow and slick roads to be here! They are setting up and getting ready to rock!

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Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.