Sydney based band Valley Onda, consisting of Georgia Fair’s Jordan Wilson, virtuoso drummer/producer Galen Sultmann and Lamalo’s producer/keys guru Michiya Nagai, have released their first single Relentless. Combining a blend of electronic and acoustic percussion, synth and strings along with a deep lyrical message, Relentless takes you through to an intense musical realm. Lead singer Jordan Wilson took some time out to have a chat to Hi-Fi Way about their debut single and what the futures holds for Valley Onda.
Your debut single Relentless is now out, can you tell us a bit about the song and how it was created?
Yeah so, I sort of had that one sitting in the back pocket for quite a number of years. I just had it there in my little acoustic kind of collection that’s up in my brain somewhere and hadn’t done anything with it. Probably because I hadn’t finished the chorus. I was literally in Camperdown (NSW) sort of finding my way back to Sydney because I was living in the UK and I met this guy Galen who is also in Valley Onda. We met and talked about music and he got me round to his place and that song was the first thing he said, “yeah let’s record something.” That one just came out and it kinda started the whole band actually. We just did it all so quickly. It was the birth of Valley Onda right in that moment. So, it’s taken on a whole new meaning now that we are a new band and it was a while since I release new music or performed so it brought me out of my shell.
What is the song about?
Well its funny because I wrote it before a time of my life when I seemed to on the surface, lost a lot of what I thought that I was and talking more about identity. Sort of a loss of identity. It sort of happened and it was written really before that but didn’t come to fruition until after that. So, songs can do that sometimes. I feel like it was feeling lost within yourself probably where that lyric “why do we hide” comes in. This song helped me to alchemise that.
The video for Relentless is quite intense and symbolic. How did you come up with the concept and is the visual concept an important part of your message for the song?
We worked closely with this girl called Barbara and Galen, Michiya and I sat down with her and knew we wanted to work with her. It needs to match the song and I love the urban kind of Sydney feel of it because that’s where we started. That’s where we started this band. We recorded most of it in Tempe. And my other brother is also in that clip so its pretty close to my heart what you go through. I mean a lot of people probably don’t know what the hell it’s going on about. We definitely had a clear story of what we were trying to convey. It’s sort of the two conflicting sides to my nature I guess. to the demands of nature. So that’s what that clip represents to me.
I really like it. I was watching it and it was so intense. I don’t mean intense in a bad way. It really captured my attention. There was a lot of symbolism there.
I don’t think intensity is a bad thing like when we had the fight scene its me and my brother and it really felt like it was a real moment for us. So yeah, it’s very close to me.
You’re a fairly new band and I’m sure you’ve all been in the scene for a while, how did the three of you get together and form Valley Onda?
I met Galen first. We were working together on this inner-city farm and that’s where I met him. I was recording an album for Georgia Fair my other band at the time. We were bringing that to a close and I was inviting Galen to sit in on a few sessions. He was sort of checking out what we were doing and then we finished that album, so I started making music with Galen. Those songs were written a while ago and I wanted to get straight back into the studio and Galen had a little home studio.
Galen and Michiya worked a lot together and one day he was at Galen’s house and when I saw he had such a great vision and was an amazing pianist it was a natural thing to get this guy as part of the group and we became a three piece. It’s nice to be in a three piece. I’ve always been in a two piece so it’s a different kind of feeling.
What other Bands have you all been in?
I’m in a band called Georgia Fair that’s had a few albums out. Michiya’s in Lamalo a really cool band on the scene who are an electronic duo that we have done collaborations with. Valley Onda is a little bit of a mash between Georgia Fair and Lamalo and then Galen being a great producer and drummer he also brings the energy.
You said you were out on a farm, is that how you came up with the name Valley Onda?
Yeah, I think it was all part of it. I know that we were trying to make something because it’s more of a studio band and to us it means valley of the waves and were trying to create another kind of place and that’s the platform. Michiya was in Japan at this place called Onda station and he said, “I like this word Onda” and Barbara (our film maker) who is Chilean explained in Spanish that means “vibe” or a an incoming “wave”. That was a good representation of what we were doing.
How would you describe your music?
It’s basically songs. It starts with songs and then trying to take those songs to a different place. We’ve done that through the help of Galen he’s just a wizard on synthesizers and drums. He’s got a psychedelic way of looking at things and has a way of twisting songs into something really beautiful. Obviously, he has that electronic influence and I’ve come from more of a more of a folk background. So, we are a clash of both of those things. That’s how I would describe it.
What bands or artists have been an influence on your sounds?
On our sounds specifically I’m a big fan of the songwriters like Nick Drake, I love this solo act called X-Ray out of London and I know Galen is big in the electronic world and Michiya comes from a classical background so it’s pretty varied. Michiya says Bach is his biggest influence but I’m more into words. We’ve introduced each other into whole different worlds. That’s why this project is pretty special.
Obviously the three of you have got three different sounds and put them together it’s something very unique.
Yes! I think that’s what’s so interesting about this band. We’ve only been together for two years and this is our first song but we really getting to know each other well now and that’s why I’m pretty excited about what can happen. Even just jamming is new for us as we are starting to perform and introducing a whole new world. Its going to turn out to be something pretty great. I’m still really enthusiastic about what’s to come.
Does that mean there’s an album in the works?
I think we will stick with singles for now. We probably have enough material for an album but we’re trying to dip our toe in and kinda ease in to public conscious. Probably not this year but yeah definitely a few more songs this year. We’ve already got the next one and the video clip kinda ready and the idea of what the album might turn into. I always sort of think in albums just because I’m still an album fan. Its always on my agenda.
How did you start off in the industry? Were you always into music from young?
To take it outside of what people normally say, I wasn’t that musically inclined. I remember doing a musical recital on piano when I was seven years old and I completely messed it up. One of the older gentlemen in my school let me know I messed it up pretty well! (laughs) Doing some kinda psychology 101 reading I know some of these moments in your life seem so traumatic and they lead you to the vortex. That was like my first vortex of “ok what’s this music thing, its not really a natural instinct.” But ever since then it seems like I’ve tried to master it. That’s where it started for me and then I started writing songs probably around thirteen and its was always simple songs just to express how I was feeling. I’ve been lucky enough to meet all sorts of musos along the way and to have different kind of projects. That’s the beauty of it for me. The songs and then the people.
You mentioned earlier that your more of a studio band does mean you won’t be doing any live shows in the near future?
Not at all. We started as a studio band but turning into a live band. We played a launch show in Chippendale for Relentless at our warehouse. We have a warehouse spot where our studio is. A really cool creative spot where a lot of musos come and different kind of artists like sculptures and jewellers come to create. So yeah more shows are planned this year. I’ve always been a live act. Performing has always been one of my favourite things.
Describe Valley Onda in three words?
Belief, Wind and Fizz.
Interview by Anastasia Lambis