A Star Is Born in Knoxville, Tennessee
Vallie, how did you get involved with music? Where are you based now?
I've really loved music ever since I can remember. According to my parents, I apparently used to hum in my crib as a baby. Not gonna lie, if I had a kid and it did that, I might be a little freaked out. I’ve seen horror movies; I know how that goes.
I started making up my own songs as a kid and began writing them down as soon as I learned how to read and write. In the beginning, I was extremely private about it and kept to myself. But as I grew more comfortable, I began sharing with my family and friends. It wasn’t until my mom forced me to enter my middle school’s talent show, that my love grew from just music to the performing and artistry side of it. Side note: No, I did not win. I failed hard. It was so bad, but something in me just clicked after that. Like I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. I felt like I was meant to do it.
So, I started honing my skills, learning where my strengths were and were not. Collaborating with others really helped me expand my writing ability and exposed me to different types of music. That all being said, I really had no clue what I was doing. I had my families love and support, for which I am forever grateful. But no one could tell me how to pursue a music career. I just started doing what I could on this strange and convoluted path that is the music and entertainment industry. Eventually, with hard work and getting out of my comfort zone, I started traveling and performing in various areas of my home state of Tennessee. Although I now travel wherever my art takes me, Tennessee is always home.
What do you love most about being a musician? And, what’s the challenging part of being a musician?
I love being able to express the most pure and raw form of myself...and that's also the most challenging part of being an artist/musician for me. Being so open is extremely scary as it often allows for doubt and anxiety to creep in.
Ultimately, there's a very fine line I tread as I try to uphold the example of being true to who you are, accepting failure, learning to be comfortable in your own skin, and loving yourself and those around you. While also remaining honest about how much it hurts to fail, how uncomfortable you feel, and how hard it is to love when you’re hurting.
But, getting to engage with people while sharing your art – whether it’s deep and meaningful or just fun, there’s nothing better! There’s this amazing connection that happens when you release something you’ve worked hard on, and other people enjoy and relate to it. It’s just incredible that music can do that.
Tell us more about yourself. What else are you passionate about besides music?
Oh! I am passionate about so many things…probably too many things! I'm always picking up new hobbies and interests. Um... I love nature. I love this earth and all the things that call it home, no matter how weird or insignificant they seem. I'm always trying to learn new ways that we as a society can be friendlier to the environment around us and utilize our resources more efficiently. I'm not the best in practice, but I am trying to be better!
I've always loved the outdoors since I was a kid, but after going to school and working in the architecture and design field it really opened my eyes to how directly our actions as a community affect the world. Architecture and Design also brought forth my passion for not only inclusive building design for all differently abled people but also brought forth a desire to work towards how I can apply this inclusivity to my every day and to my music. I'm in love with the idea of creating better opportunities where all people can have the chance to enjoy things like concerts for example. I just feel like everyone should be able to enjoy life in the same fun way as everyone else and not have to feel like an afterthought. Everyone matters.
What fuels your imagination and gives you inspiration?
Everything. Literally. I draw inspiration from daily life - both mine and other people’s experiences. I draw inspiration from movies, tv shows, books, articles, dreams...hell, even random photos I see in magazines or on Instagram or even the way the light reflects off a tree's leaves. I'm weird like that, but It's not always like I see or experience these things and then -- BOOM! There's a song. Sometimes it does work out that way!
Back when I was in middle school, this guy in my friend group mentioned that he played guitar and wrote songs. At the time, I was just learning who I was as a musician so writing and playing wasn’t something I really talked about. But because he mentioned it, I was like “yeah. I do that too.” And to my surprise, he promptly said “I bet I can write better than you.”. I definitely wasn’t expecting that and yes, while I have a quieter personality, I’m actually very competitive! I was up for the challenge. Thus, a friendly songwriting competition was born. I went home that night and ended up writing two songs. The first was on keys and then realized I probably couldn’t take em’ with me and so I wrote another on guitar. A couple weeks later, our competition took place in a parking lot of an athletic facility. He was a gentleman and let me go first and also let me use his guitar. I got about halfway through to the first chorus and then his string snapped…as quickly as it started our little competition was over. He didn’t have another pack of strings, nor did he really know how to change them out. I truly felt terrible. I apologized, but we never rescheduled our duel. A few months later, that song became my first single and music video “5 Seconds”. I was honestly still embarrassed about the situation, but ultimately invited the guy to be in the music video. So, I guess you could say everything is significant to my art?!
In your own eyes, how has the music industry changed you as a person? What have you learned?
It's taught me to be bolder. I've learned through rejection and disappointment to be stronger and work harder for next time. I've learned through being ignored and not taken seriously to express myself and my vision and to never apologize for thinking differently. It's really and truly molded me into the person I am today. I still have a long way to go, but I've already come so far and am very proud that the younger me didn't give up.
Share your wildest performance story.
I’ve honestly had so many wild things happen in my life in general. When it comes to performances though, I’ve had all kinds of experiences.
I’ve had my precious Les Paul fly off stage almost as if on cue as I performed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. I’ve had poor baby birds fall onto me out of nowhere during a set. We of course paused to rescue them.
One of the strangest things though, happened right before one of my very first concerts, after sound check. This one elderly man approached me from the audience side of the stage. He was holding out a poster and asked me to sign it. I, of course did, but the strange thing about it was that no posters of me had been created for the event. This poster was like a nice legit poster too. It had the proper sheen, weight, size, everything…unless he owned a printer with the ability to print things like he had to have gone to a place and paid to print it. I guess he just pulled an image of me off the internet? I still kind of wonder how that exchange with the printing company went.
What other musicians would you love to collaborate with? WHY?
I have such a long and on-going list of artists I want to collaborate with - too many to share here...so I'll just tell you four in no particular order:
Halsey - I love how open her music is. She really speaks to important topics and expresses them in such a catching and creative way. Also, she's totally hot.
The Weeknd - His style's so cool. I'm completely enamored with his sound right now. He's created this vast world with his art. When I listen to his work, I am just so invested in the story he's telling.
BTS - well because it's BTS! Listen...not only are they all immensely talented, but they are absolutely hilarious. They are also so good at expressing important messages in their music, while making it enjoyable to listen to and experience. Plus, their fans feel involved and special as well. I think that's very important. Like I don't know them, but they're already my friends, ya know?
Sir Paul McCartney - The Beatles are the sole reason I write like I do today. I didn't know it was possible until I heard them. I especially resonated with Sir Paul McCartney's writing and performing style. I really just fell deeply in love with music after I began listening to them. For me though, I don't even have to collaborate with him, just getting the chance to meet and thank him in person would be enough. I know it's lame, but I'd feel accomplished after that.
Is there anything you would change about the music industry if you could?
I think... If I could, I would make it more inclusive to all different types of people. There are so many different forms that music takes and all creators no matter where they're from or what they look like, are valid. I feel like the mainstream media creates this illusion that there's only one way you should be perceived to be successful. There's just a lot of unhealthy pressure surrounding that. There's always sacrifices to make for reaching certain goals, but I really and truly desire for the people pursuing this industry to not have to give up who they are in order to follow their dreams. In a creative industry, I really feel like we should be embracing our differences.
What projects are you working on next, and what are your goals for the future?
Well, I've dropped a few new singles and visuals setting up the release of my new EP "Circumstances", set to release April, 22nd of this year. This project is my most personal project I've ever created and I’m so immensely proud and overjoyed to share it with the world. It's really a compilation of songs I wrote referencing all the experiences I've had bringing me to this point of my life, hence the name.
The songs touch on so many subjects like mental health, anxiety, trauma, physical health, and abuse. It was extremely intimidating and difficult to even make the decision to share my story. After writing these pieces of my life into words and agonizing over every lyric and melody, the next battle was producing them in a way that would really bring the listener in. I wanted to convey not only feelings, but a setting. It needed to be cinematic to express the full narrative. Overall, it was a long process full of many, many emotions. It was important to me. I needed to make peace and reflect, but I’ve always felt there are so many people in the world that need to hear and be heard too, you know? I think I’m just looking for some common ground while I’m learning how to navigate this world like everyone else.
I had a tough time selecting the singles that would essentially be a preview of the entire project. It was an intense process for me. I went back and forth a ton before I ultimately landed on the three – “Come On Over”, “Alone With You”, and “Please Don’t Go”. You just never want to be wrong or at least I don’t. What ended up happening, was that I just woke up one day and knew those three were the right choice. Sounds super lame to say it, but it’s true. They kind of connect albeit in a sort of abstract way…but I could feel it and hear it. I left little hints in the music videos and single art as well so you can see it if you pay close enough attention. There’s really just a ton of heart and thought that went into the whole project!
I am also hoping to share all of this in person by following up the release with a tour as well as drop into some festivals this summer. I’d LOVE to see and give back to all the amazing people who have been supporting me as well as meet some new faces.
After - and well during that, I'm REALLY hoping to start on some dream collaborations, connect with different personalities in the entertainment industry, possible small roles in movies or tv, and of course continue sharing new content with all the lovelies who make everything I do possible.
Where can we see more of your videos and get connected with you?
You can find my music and visuals on Youtube, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon - any place you typically go, by my name "Vallie". Follow my shenanigans @callmevallie on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter!
On April 24, 2022, In Knoxville, Tennessee at the eclectic venue Five
Thirty Lounge - singer, songwriter, and musician VALLIE releases
her third EP titled, “Circumstances”. This Pop/R&B indie artist
has transitioned into a genre of her own. Making no apologies for
her music, Vallie has an innate ability to combine emotions with
words and melody, not excusing society. The EP’s first single,
“Come on Over” has put the Tennessee native on a level with her
commercial counterparts. Her summer promo tour starts this summer in August 2022.
A special thank you to one of her title sponsors: Keller Williams in Knoxville, Tennessee - Specifically Tera Jones and David Edens. For believing in her talent and overall artistic vision.
Model: @callmevallie @Vallie Entertainment, LLC
Wardrobe Stylist/Creative Director: Antoinette Love Ransom @antoinette_love_ransom
Photographer: Daniel Morales @daniel_images
Makeup Artist/Hair Stylist: Kristin Valdivia @valdiviakristin
Retoucher: Chastity Heyward @outspokenwifey
Makeup Artist: Rozzi Will @rozziwill