Vallis Alps On Their U.S. Tour & ‘Fable’ EP: Interview
Vallis Alps landed a viral hit in 2015 with dreamy electro-anthem “Young.” The success of the track, which explores a shadowy soundscape comprised of acoustic guitar, chimes and drowsy synths, came as something of a surprise to the Australian duo. After all, they originally started the project with the intention of only distributing it to family and friends. Since then, Parissa Tosif (vocals) and David Ansari (production) have graduated to a fully-fledged buzz act courtesy of sublime singles like “Fading” and “East.”
I recently caught up with the duo before their headlining show at The Echo in Los Angeles and asked them about their U.S. tour and second EP, Fable (due March 31). It promises to be an eclectic collection of songs that vary in tempo, tone and subject matter. Parissa and David are adamant about not being defined by their early work and passionate about exploring as many styles as possible. They also opened up about meeting during a gap year in Israel and the hard work that goes into creating their beautiful sounds. Get to know them a little better below.
How’s your US tour going?
David: It’s been really great. I think pretty much every show except for one is sold out at this point.
Parissa: We’ve actually been able to connect with fans on a level that we haven’t previously and we’ve met so many incredible people. We could be best friends with every person that comes to our show. We actually get time to talk to people and it feels like a real adventure. We’ve been having an amazing time.
David: It’s the first time we’re not playing catch up. We have new music and we’re touring new music. We’re just happier and more relaxed and we know what we’re doing and we’re stoked.
How are American audiences different to other countries?
Parissa: I think each city in the US has its own style. Some cities have been so attentive and then other cities are like, “Wooo!,” like Salt Lake City was just crazy and so pumped.
David: Dude, they’re lit. They’re crazy. Shout out to Mormons.
“Fading” is more upbeat than your previous songs. Is that a reflection of Fable?
Parissa: Not at all.
David: No, not at all.
Parissa: Each song in this EP is extremely different to the other. For example, one of our songs, “Serity,” is extremely detailed texturally. It’s orchestral.
David: It’s like 7 and a half minutes long. It’s like movie music.
Parissa: At some point you’re just like, “What am I listening to?” It’s like you’re in a movie, whereas “Fading” is this upbeat, poppy kind of song and “Run,” another one of our songs, is mellow and quiet and has a lot of silent reflective moments. People are going to be a bit shocked about how strange it is.
Did you try to make it as eclectic as possible?
Parissa: Not at all.
David: The only real guiding principle was that we wanted to make something that’s forward looking as opposed to nostalgic because our previous EP focused on things like memories and dreams and aspirations — all these things that are sort of backwards looking. We wanted to flip that and just start completely fresh. It feels like it’s the first EP we’ve made. It was a crazy process. It took forever.
Is there a song that stands out to you?
David: I feel like all of them are important for different reasons. Some of them were really challenging from a creative perspective, whereas others were really challenging in an arrangement perspective or conceptually. They’re so different from what we’re used to writing that the lyrics would take months. So all of it reflects a progression in what we think Vallis Alps is, as well as a progression in our ability to make music and our ability to collaborate and to do new things.
Do you have a release date yet?
Parissa: Not yet.
David: It’s actually soon this time.
Parissa: We actually just submitted the master, so it’s really soon. We’ve been saying that for a long time but it’s actually soon.
There’s an innate dreaminess and softness to your music. When did you realize you’d captured something unique and special?
Parissa: That’s a good question. I think one thing we strive for continuously is combing real instruments, real textures, the acoustic side of things and combining it with electronic music. I think that combination is something we’re always striving for in our music. There’s something really beautiful about real instruments and also all the different possibilities that electronic music has. Maybe that’s kind of what we’re aiming for.
David: I don’t feel like we’ve found the boundaries of our sound yet. We don’t want the music we make to be limited by a Vallis Alps sound, we’d rather just let the Vallis Alps sound change according to whatever we’re interested in.
So you would potentially release something more uptempo?
Parissa: Actually, you might hear it in our set tonight. We’ve got a couple of very, very new songs. One, in particular, is shockingly different. But the goal always stays the same. We always want to make music that uplifts people souls and makes them feel happy. It makes them reflect on different things, and I think that’s maybe the common thread, kind of tying all our projects together.
What is the origin story of Vallis Alps?
Parissa: We both took a gap year in Israel and we volunteered at the Bahá’í World Centre because we’re both members of the Bahá’í faith. We would just jam and David heard me sing at a friend’s house and we started making some tunes together. A couple years later, when he was back in Seattle and I was in Australia, we sent each other some stuff over the internet. I then flew to Seattle and we made the first EP just as a little project for our friends and family. We actually weren’t sure if we wanted to pursue it as a career when we released it.
David: It took us 3 months before we decided that we wanted to be a band. Maybe 4 months.
Parissa: We were like, “This is amazing, this is something we did for our friends and family, let’s just leave it.” But then we were like, “Let’s do this!” It’s been a real privilege and an honor. We’ve been really lucky.
Did you realize there was something special about “Young”?
David: I mean, we liked it but neither of us thought about what would happen after we put the EP, it was just getting to that point. It was a fun, creative project, and so the purpose of it just was to see if we could do it and then we did it and we were like, “Cool, let’s move on and do other things.” So, “Young” definitely holds a special place in both of our hearts. I think when you are that deep in the creative process, it’s just following your intuition. You just don’t know how it will turn out and that’s cool. If we like it, we know that someone somewhere will like it too.
Do you have an album on the way?
David: Not yet. We just finished the EP. We just want to see if we can get to the point where it comes out.
Parissa: We would love to work on more music. I think we would love to delve into the idea of an album eventually and try that out because that’s a whole other story.
Is Australia still the focus or has it changed to the US?
David: The US is huge. It’s so big and I think we’ve been so lucky to have people supporting us in Australia. We feel like we’re at a point with Australia where we have the resources that are possible to invest in different places. We put so much work into this US tour and it’s been going really well and we just want to keep focusing like on going to new places and meeting new people and playing out music. I mean, it’s fun. We travel and make music. It only feels like a job sometimes.
What are the aspects that feel like a job?
Parissa: When you’re making the music.
David: When you’re in a 16-hour session in the studio, 6 months before the EP’s done and just questioning everything you’ve ever done.
Parissa: When you’re crying over whether a lyric should be one way or another for like 2 hours. We’re lucky we have each other to bounce ideas back and forth, I can’t even imagine doing this by myself. I’d be lost.
David: Me too.