Dec. 16, 2020

Art is a Job: An Interview with Valerie Hill

Art is a Job: An Interview with Valerie Hill

In this episode, Ciyadh interviews one of her oldest friends, musician and comedian, Valerie Hill.

Valerie's Bio:
Val is a singer, songwriter, musician and comedian, who began performing in various bands in the greater Nashville area, as a teenager. Influenced by the likes of Type O Negative, Elvis Presley and HIM, her debut album is set to release fall 2021. In the meantime, you can catch her as Britney in episode 2 of the web series, Trying Hard.

Show Notes:
TryingHardTV Episode No. 2
Janet’s Kraft’s Janet’s Kraft (JKJK)

Music Recommendation:

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Art is a Job: An Interview with Valerie Hill

Ciyadh: [00:00:00] [00:00:00] , well, thank you, Valerie, for being on the musically cogitating podcast. I really appreciate it. How long have we known each other? 

[00:00:12]Valerie: [00:00:12] Wait. Okay. Hold on. Yeah. How old am I? 

[00:00:19] Ciyadh: [00:00:19] You are 27 because I'm 28. 

[00:00:22] Valerie: [00:00:22] That's right. I wanted to get that. They was a goal to get that in very quickly.

[00:00:28] Um, Uh, so it would have been kindergarten. So we would have been five when we started, but we would have both turned six the first semester. So that means, uh, uh, if you take 27 minus five, That would be 22. Yes.

[00:00:55] Ciyadh: [00:00:55] I can see you subtracting in your head. 

[00:00:58] Valerie: [00:00:58] Uh, [00:01:00] I was just kinda hoping the answer would eventually come to me. As it usually does. Right. It just comes to, yeah. 

[00:01:10] Ciyadh: [00:01:10] Uh, yeah. So Valerie and I have known each other for our entire lives. Basically we grew up going to the same elementary school and although we didn't go to the same high school, we continued to be friends and have been trans ever since.

[00:01:22] And. Now we, of course, as you know, are still friends, which is why she's going to be talking with us today. And so Valerie, give the, give the people a picture of you, paint them a word picture of who is Valerie 

[00:01:37] Valerie: [00:01:37] Hill, uh, entertainer. 

[00:01:40] Ciyadh: [00:01:40] Entertainer. Oh, is that, is that the, is that the, uh, title we've decided on is this, this feels in recent, 

[00:01:46] Valerie: [00:01:46] um, 

[00:01:47] Ciyadh: [00:01:47] talk last week and you were not calling yourself an entertainer.

[00:01:50] Valerie: [00:01:50] Um, I, well, we can, you said paint a word picture. I was like, this is going to be very long, or I could just say entertainer.

[00:02:03] [00:02:00] Ciyadh: [00:02:03] It's okay. If it's a little long. So, I mean, 

[00:02:05] Valerie: [00:02:05] you can tell it, tell 

[00:02:06] Ciyadh: [00:02:06] me what I feel like you have something new every week that you're doing time to catch up. So what are you doing now? 

[00:02:14] Valerie: [00:02:14] Um, okay, so the, the first C I deny we're athletes. 

[00:02:24] Ciyadh: [00:02:24] I don't think I've ever mentioned that on the internet anywhere really 

[00:02:27] Valerie: [00:02:27] well.

[00:02:28] Now you have, or I have, uh, it's fair and you have full control on whether or not to edit it out, but it's it's of course. Um, okay. Well, uh, there was that, and I was involved in that for six years. Uh, it was through, uh, fourth grade from fourth grade to through it was, I quit the summer between my freshman and sophomore year.

[00:03:00] [00:03:00] Um, and we played basketball and then there were a couple of years. I also play softball in there. Uh, and. I, when I quit, I was just like, okay, I'm going to be a musician now. 

[00:03:16] Ciyadh: [00:03:16] Yeah, 

[00:03:19] Valerie: [00:03:19] it was, it was a very, like I thought the decision through seriously, I just don't have a habit of telling people what I'm going to do before I do it.

[00:03:30] I do think things through. It just doesn't look like I do. Uh, so I had thought about quitting basketball for which at that point I was not playing softball anymore anyway, so it was the only thing I was doing. And I had thought about that seriously, like seriously, considering it for two or three months and, uh, The first timI think I told anybody, it was like a month before I did it [00:04:00] and was kind of talked out of doing it. And then after a month I was like, I can't do this anymore. Like I walked in, it was, we were having a tournament. We were hosting it at our school that summer. And it was the last day of the tournament. And I like people still didn't want me to quit. Everybody was trying to not get me to quit. And, uh, I was just, I was done. I was done that day. I was not doing it anymore. So I walked in and found my coach, like taping somebody's ankle up and was like, Hey, can we talk? And he's like, sure. So we went out into the next room that was like, semi-private from that other room.

[00:04:41] I was like, yeah, I'm quitting. He, he was completely blindsided by it as he should have been because, uh, my freshman year I won the award for most dedicated. So, which is true. I tend to [00:05:00] be the most dedicated or one of the most dedicated of any kind of group. For the moment that I'm in it, but the moment I'm done, I'm gone.

[00:05:09] Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:05:09] Ciyadh: [00:05:09] You're never going back. Like you never mentioned sport one, like since like, since you left. 

[00:05:17] Valerie: [00:05:17] Yep. Yep. Not, not at all there. And there was all this sort of, Oh, you're going to regret it. And people were really. Like people were not happy with me, uh, for doing it. Uh, I will say my coach overall, like he was, he was cool with it.

[00:05:33] Like he, you know, he was just blindsided and he was like, was it anything I did? And it was like, no, it's nothing you did. I'm just, I'm done. I can't do this anymore. This isn't me. And, uh, He was just kinda like, okay, well, I mean, let me know if you change your mind. I said, okay, but I'm not going to. And I left and I never did.

[00:05:57] And then I [00:06:00] started, I went into Media Rerun, which was a used music store. I used. It's exactly what it sounds like. It's used media, so movies and vinyl and CDs and video games. And I saw an industrial coffee maker in there one time. Um, and they sold it and, uh, I went in. I was like, all right, because the owner like used to play guitar at the grand Ole Opry.

[00:06:29] And I was like, all right. So let's, I'll go take lessons from him. And he was like, Oh, well, I don't actually give lessons anymore. Uh, I don't remember if I actually talked to him or his son who pretty much ran the store. Um, but anyway, he didn't give lessons anymore and they're like, Oh, but John does our other employee here.

[00:06:49] Who I knew just as an employee there for years. Uh, not personally. And. Uh, he was on tour at the time, [00:07:00] I think in Europe. So that was like, Oh, okay. So this guy's like, I've got to wait to take guitar lessons for him. Cause he's on tour, like in Europe. Uh, so I had to wait a month. Uh, I quit basketball in June and then I had to wait until July, I think, to start taking lessons. And then I did, and he pretty much, he controlled what he was teaching me for the first four songs because he wanted, I think at least, uh, for me to have a sort of like overview of basic techniques, I guess, like, you know, how basic chords are, you know, how to arpeggiate accord, do you know how to do a little finger picking that sort of thing.

[00:07:50] So, and you know how to do some hammer ons and pull offs or whatever. So he controlled the curriculum, so to speak, uh, for the first four songs. [00:08:00] And then he was like, all right, just bring in songs. You want me to teach you? And I was like, Oh, okay, cool. Uh, and that's pretty much what it was. It was little jam sessions.

[00:08:08] It did not feel like school. Uh, there were a couple of times he tried to teach me music theory and it didn't go over well. Um, yeah. And, uh, so cause I wanted to play, I didn't care about the other stuff. Um, and I've done okay with that. Um, I did that for several years, uh, of varying degrees, uh, and started performing shows, fronting metal bands. 

[00:08:42] I don't like maybe I started performing shows. I don't know, even know if it was like a year after I started playing, like maybe a year. I was the first band I was in. I was, I was just playing guitar and I wasn't actually fronting the [00:09:00] band and it only lasted for two months. And we had a manager that we didn't like, and he made us play what he wanted us to play.

[00:09:08] So I said, all right guys, once we play this one show that we booked I'm out. Uh, and then the other guitars was like, unless you give us the manager, we want I'm out. And he threw a fit. And I was like, no, you have to be us. Or the band doesn't exist. And we're like, well, the band doesn't exist. Uh, and then I didn't play for awhile.

[00:09:34] I mean, like a matter of months, it wasn't like a year. Um, and then I got into another band through an organization called YEAH which is Youth Empowerment through Arts and Humanities, uh, where they took local kids who had an interest in being in a band and they put them together in a band and, uh, I got [00:10:00] another band and that band stayed together for six months.

[00:10:02] Basically through them time I graduated high school is how long we stayed together. Um, and my band manager was John, my old guitar instructor. Um, and he, he guided us, but he definitely was like, he wants us all to like, enjoy playing. So he's not going to force us to play things that we don't want to play.

[00:10:27] He's going to make sure we're show ready, but he's not going to do anything outside of that. So did that. And then I performed in varying degrees. I had sort of like a weekly residency at a biker bar doing solo acoustic stuff for awhile when I was in college. Um, you know, it was, uh, I was,

[00:10:55]I was asked, uh, [00:11:00] Because I kind of created a new genre. I was asked to like debut it at the, the first, um,

[00:11:13]It's I don't know, like it was kind of an open mic night type thing through Raider entertainment, which was a entertainment organization I was part of in college. Yeah, yeah. On campus. And, uh, it was kind of an open mic night, but not like an open mic night where you can just show up and do it. Like you had, like, it was scheduled out ahead of time.

[00:11:37] And I said, okay, I'll do it. But the genre was, I've changed the name at this point, but it was emerging at the time I called it gothic metal, ballroom dance music. I've now changed it to ballroom doom because the other is just like a mouthful that takes you. Those, you had a 

[00:11:59] Ciyadh: [00:11:59] Change of the [00:12:00] name. 

[00:12:00] Valerie: [00:12:00] Oh yeah.

[00:12:00] Well, I figured like I probably have more doom metal influences. Yeah. So it's more Black Sabbath type stuff then, uh, necessarily Gothic metal. Um, also I feel like anyone who's ever had the label of Gothic metal has been like. We didn't intend to get that, but, uh, and it was just a very, like, people would be like, Oh, so like the Cure.

[00:12:30] And it's like, well, the cure is great and all, but I was thinking more Edgar Allen Poe

[00:12:38] um, I don't know, like, uh, maybe a Flannery O'Connor thing, but like, it was not, it was definitely Gothic in relation to literary fields, as opposed to, I only listened to Robert Smith. Right. Uh, I listened to him occasionally, but it's never been like a, [00:13:00] I wouldn't say he's one of my top influences. Uh, so. I, I think ballroom doom is it's got nice like, uh, like a, like a rhyme thing there. Uh, it's less of a mouthful to say, and it's a bit more, I feel like people can probably understand it a little bit more. 

[00:13:27] Ciyadh: [00:13:27] Yeah. That's yeah. That's totally fair. 

[00:13:30] Valerie: [00:13:30] So then, like you have 

[00:13:31] Ciyadh: [00:13:31] this new genre. 

[00:13:35] Valerie: [00:13:35] Yeah. Yeah. So they said, Hey, come debut it at our thing. And I was like, all right, cool.

[00:13:41] Uh, and I was like, what's the setup though? Cause it's like an open mind. And they were like, well, what do you mean? I said, well, can I have drums? And they were like, no, And I was like, okay, um, can I have like electric guitar? And they were like, no. And I'm like, these two things like rhythm and, [00:14:00] and having an electric guitar is kind of important to this to make it sound like what it needs to sound like.

[00:14:06] And, uh, they pretty much told me they wanted me to do an acoustic set of this. And so I got a bass player, friend of mine to like, fill out something of the sound. Did the best we could. And, uh, the next week at the meeting, the person who had begged me to do it and like was the head of that particular department in the organization said, well, uh, it's not really what I was expecting.

[00:14:42] Ciyadh: [00:14:42] Okay. Rude, rude, 

[00:14:44] Valerie: [00:14:44] Rude. First of all, and second, you took away like very specific components to that. Of course, it's not going to sound like what you expected. You said it right. Had to play a metal, you know, set without an electric guitar [00:15:00] without 

[00:15:00] Ciyadh: [00:15:00] them, 

[00:15:00] Valerie: [00:15:00] and without drums. 

[00:15:03] Ciyadh: [00:15:03] You're not leaving. They didn't leave you with, I would say hardly anything or, or at least not in the way that you would, that you had wanted it to be presented.

[00:15:14] Valerie: [00:15:14] You're going to have to understand that it's not going to sound exactly what you think in your head, if that's what you, if you want me to essentially do like a singer songwriter said, 

[00:15:22] Ciyadh: [00:15:22] right? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. 

[00:15:24] Valerie: [00:15:24] So I did that and that's the only time like I played that kind of music. Live for a while. Uh, and I got more heavily into writing.

[00:15:34] I took a step back from like performing live because it was too hard to keep a band together. And that's what I really wanted. I did not want to, uh, Um, I didn't want to do the solo thing. I, I only did it because I needed to perform and get on stage, but I didn't, I knew that's not what I wanted. And I knew there was a, a lifespan for [00:16:00] that before.

[00:16:00] I'd be like, okay, I'm tired of this. So, uh, I focused a bit more on writing. I was part of the commercial songwriting program at Middle  Tennessee State University.  Rick Carnes was my songwriting professor and also kind of the guy that I judge all instructors by at this point.  He's also the President of the Songwriters Guild of America.

[00:16:34] So there's some name dropping. 

[00:16:39] Wonderful, wonderful instructor, wonderful methods, and they can be applied to anything. It doesn't have to be like you're getting on the top 40 or whatever. It can be, whatever you want. And basically me creating this genre was a way to like kind of [00:17:00] get one over on him. And then when I wrote the first song that.

[00:17:05] Like worked. I was like, Oh, I'm going to do this the rest of the semester. Yeah. So, basically I was, it was, it was an extended joke and I just kind of really liked it too. 

[00:17:20] Ciyadh: [00:17:20] And extended joke that you like continued to still write in now, because I know you're writing now, right. But we haven't talked, which is weird because we talk every week, but we haven't talked about like, what so much of that music sounds like, um, as a, as of late.

[00:17:40] So is it still like ballroom doom? 

[00:17:43] Valerie: [00:17:43] Yeah, so, uh, the ballroom doing thing, that term was just a recent thing and that was pretty much the turning point of when I was like, all right. Yeah, I'm going back to this. Okay. 

[00:17:54] Ciyadh: [00:17:54] You kind of like left. I don't want to say you left music, but it wasn't like your primary artistic [00:18:00] outlet for 

[00:18:00] Valerie: [00:18:00] a while, a while.

[00:18:02] Yeah. Yeah. That's accurate because I haven't performed live music, at least for with the exception of musical improv, six years. 

[00:18:20] Ciyadh: [00:18:20] Oh, my gosh, it's been six years. 

[00:18:21] Valerie: [00:18:21] Cause I think it was, I was 21 when me and Tyler. No, no, no. That's not true because the last time I think was when the two of us, Oh, we went to Louisville.

[00:18:33] So I guess five years. 

[00:18:35] Ciyadh: [00:18:35] Yeah, it's probably about five years 

[00:18:36] Valerie: [00:18:36] ago. That's still a long time. 

[00:18:39] Ciyadh: [00:18:39] I hadn't, I had not realized that. 

[00:18:41] Valerie: [00:18:41] Yeah, it's been, I mean, I've not stopped writing  music the entire time, but it's not always been. You know, ballroom too, but it's, I got, I do think, I thought about this the other day. I think I got a little too into the fact that I could [00:19:00] get analytical about it.

[00:19:01] And I did, so I was just kind of being like, all right, this song would be good for this or this song would be good for that or whatever. If somebody needed me to write a song for them or whatever I do it, but it was, it became and made me think, like, I think this is the normal way to learn things in a creative format.

[00:19:25] Like you do it first and start doing it in the way that you want to do it because it's fun for you then. And then you find people who can teach you a little bit more, whatever, and you get into doing that. And you learn how, like the language of it, you learn how to do different things. You learn why different things work and it becomes fun in another way.

[00:19:47] People think that takes the fun out of it, but it really doesn't and just it's fun in a different way. And I think I got way too into the that. Cause it was, it [00:20:00] got to a point where it was like, I'm, I'm literally just sitting over here having fun with that, but that's you know, that's just using my brain for it.

[00:20:10] I didn't get into this to use my brain for it. So what I do is for and at this point it's more of me saying bye-bye brain. Hello, I don't know, emotional capacity reasons for doing this and just trust that the, you know, I know this stuff well enough. Like that I would need to edit in a way that I could like, just trust that I know that and leave, leave all the teaching in the back of my mind somewhere and let everything else lead ,which at this point is like, I wanna do I wanna do this again.

[00:20:52] This is fun for me. I don't care about whether or not anyone else likes it. It's [00:21:00] back to the point of how it was in the beginning of, I like it. This is a form of essential expression for me. It is essential for me to do it. I hope people like it, but at the end of the day, I care a lot more whether I like it then if anybody else does. So, 

[00:21:22] Ciyadh: [00:21:22] So how do you balance, like trying to create art or music that you enjoy, that you want to share, but also needing to continue to survive, you know, day to day right? Like I know we both have jobs, 

[00:21:43] Valerie: [00:21:43] right? We talk, 

[00:21:45] Ciyadh: [00:21:45] we talk a lot about. Monetizing our art, 

[00:21:49] Valerie: [00:21:49] right. 

[00:21:49] Ciyadh: [00:21:49] Commodifying our art and whether or not we want to do that.

[00:21:53] Or like, we have things that we do. We have art forms that we do that we do make money from that we don't make money from so. 

[00:21:59] Valerie: [00:21:59] Right. [00:22:00] How 

[00:22:00] Ciyadh: [00:22:00] are you managing and thinking about that? Because I feel like it changes 

[00:22:06] Valerie: [00:22:06] which is not a bad thing, but 

[00:22:08] Ciyadh: [00:22:08] like, you know, you. Do you stand up comedy or not stand up, but like improv comedy.

[00:22:13] So yeah, like where does that all fit in? 

[00:22:18] Valerie: [00:22:18] Um, well, it changes because I, we, we both learn new bits of information, 

[00:22:25] Ciyadh: [00:22:25] so we could be thinking about doing 

[00:22:30] Valerie: [00:22:30] that, like, Oh yeah, yeah. It's. I don't think it's yeah, I wanted to make that distinction. Like it, I don't think either of us change based on the fact of like, we're just being, wishy-washy we find different bits of information and we're like, Oh, I could do that.

[00:22:47] Um, and also immediately, like, I'm glad you were like, Oh, we both have jobs. So like, yeah. That's how I manage. I have, I have a job that does not [00:23:00] associated with creativity at all. Uh, so that's how I pay the bills. But in, in thoughts of like monetizing things, I'm back at a point where I'm fine with monetizing everything.

[00:23:21] Oh, 

[00:23:22] Ciyadh: [00:23:22] okay. 

[00:23:22] Valerie: [00:23:22] Yeah. Okay. I think, uh, honestly, because for awhile I was like, Oh, I'm fine with monetizing, like my comedy stuff, whether it's my improv shows, which really guests I get a check for. But  improv is really a losing money game still. If you take into consideration like booking rehearsal spaces and stuff still so far better paid than anything musically in Nashville , but I I've done [00:24:00] that. I've done like some, I got some money from being like a stage manager for a sketch show  that I was kind of in also. Most of the comedy doesn't actually generate income unless I'm producing it. And like I said, it's still kind of a losing money game, but it's also still kind of cool to get that check at the end.

[00:24:29] I right now am looking at several different things, but they're on the ground level of things because  I've got a parody sketch.  Like parody  crafting show for which I mean, 

[00:24:50] Ciyadh: [00:24:50] if so, send me that, make sure you send me the video if you're okay. Sharing it because I watched it, I watched it and I was just like laughing, crying.

[00:24:59] Valerie: [00:24:59] It's [00:25:00] well, it's the, yeah, it's Janet crafts. Janet's crafts or JK JK. It's hashtag JK JK. Janet Craft is well, one of the characters that I created for my one stage show long before COVID hit, I was supposed to have it in April. Obviously that didn't happen. So instead I wrote it in April  about something.

[00:25:29] Yeah. And all of the characters in it, like I could immediately relate with. Except this character. So I think this parody show is really more me trying to get a feel of this character to see who are you really? Janet Craft. Yeah. But, yeah, so I'm doing that.  I will send you links to it. I still only have the [00:26:00] welcome video up.

[00:26:05] Yeah and is that when takes it, each video will take like three hours to film, right? I am looking at actually some of the crafts things. Cause I do like working with my hands to see if there's any that I could maybe potentially sell for a few dollars on the side. So there's a possible monetization there as well, but these are all like potentials there.

[00:26:33] That's every sort of attempt to monetize art is like, this is a potential. Yeah. 

[00:26:39] Ciyadh: [00:26:39] So like, how are you thinking about like going from like from having 10 potentials to like. Either 10 things that are, are making you money, or like whittling that down to five things or two. 

[00:26:54] Valerie: [00:26:54] I think doing them, you know, essentially just do, [00:27:00] you can think about it forever.

[00:27:02] And I think everybody. Does that everybody I do it, you do it, everybody. Whoever does any of this does it. And all the people who end up never doing it, also do that.  Because thinking is, you know, it's, it's very easy to just sit there and think about it. Yeah. You're almost never going to get the answers that way either.

[00:27:31] And you're absolutely never going to get the money that way. Like I think it's a little bit that's where I'm at right now is it's better to just go ahead and do the thing. And then you're thinking can be  sort of how you alter your path. If things aren't going a particular way.  So that's, that's, that's where I'm at.

[00:27:58] Just do the thing. [00:28:00] And then if you notice something isn't working, try to tweak it. Or if you notice something is working double down on that, like do that thing. But yeah, it's right now I've got several things that are really at ground level because I don't have a ton of experience in most of them. Yeah.

[00:28:23] So really just kind of hoping something pulls through cause I would like to make money based on creative pursuits. 

[00:28:32] Ciyadh: [00:28:32] Okay, cool. So yeah, same. I mean, yeah. So how are you, how are you getting that experience? Like because they get into that. Like, I feel like I need experience for things and then I'm like doing them.

[00:28:47] But like, so like, what are your, what's your process for, you know, gaining that experience to, uh, get your art to a level where you feel like you can [00:29:00] monetize or whatever?

[00:29:03]Valerie: [00:29:03] Well, it depends on the art because. Being based in Nashville, if the art is music you motto needs to be  don't pay to play at a place. 

[00:29:19] Ciyadh: [00:29:19] Right. Or almost like if it's going to be Nashville, it's like you should move.

[00:29:29]Valerie: [00:29:29] There like, there's an underground metal scene in Nashville, but it's like always been underground.

[00:29:35] Right. Like for, for decades and will be because 

[00:29:39] Ciyadh: [00:29:39] country music like outweighs. 

[00:29:41] Valerie: [00:29:41] Yeah. Yeah. If you like the things in Nashville, the moneymakers, the cash cows for music are country music and contemporary Christian music. That's where that is based all that stuff is based in Nashville. That's the, money-making like it's the pop music of Nashville.

[00:29:59] That's [00:30:00] what it is so and what, what I do is, so anyway, musically is I had this issue of when I was playing in bands as a teenager where I wouldn't even do, I would say, I was like, Oh, we're like a hard rock, like heavy metal band. Like I would definitely throw hardware rock in there because, the basic general feed was like, the metal heads didn't think I was metal, but anybody who wasn't a metal head was like, no, you're in a metal band, which is, is not uncommon for like any, any sort of metal musician who has any sort of pop sensibilities at all  in their writing will get that.

[00:30:50] Cause a lot of. You know, there's a lot of, European metal bands that I don't like. I think Americans were adhering and be like, no, they're just like a rock band  [00:31:00] And it's like, no, no, they, they are a metal band. The Finnish metal scene is very huge. But I think a lot of that, like if, if  I don't know about metal heads overall, but like probably at least American metal heads, the ones I know, probably like, Oh no, they're, they're more like a rock band, but they're one of the premier metal scenes in the world.

[00:31:29] Like, just because they have, you know, some pop sensibilities with how they write their songs or maybe they wrote their song about a relationship instead of like corpses. But, you know, it's still a metal band, so that doesn't but it doesn't, it's  Nashville is not the place for that. So I've more got a, [00:32:00] like   I'm getting ready some songs, I'm writing a new batch of songs and going to record them and do all that myself,. I believe because I do have a skillset, even though it's frustrating because I haven't done it a lot in a while. And I'm probably going to just release some music videos through YouTube.

[00:32:29] And, and kind of do it that way. That's really what I'm my method is for, I don't know, trying to break through, it's just getting on YouTube and, and posting stuff and that sort of thing. It's not, I'm not even like, obviously with cupboard, we can't go out and like, I can't go out and play show right now anyway.

[00:32:51] Um, especially in Nashville. .

[00:32:55]Like, even if I could, there's limited places where you can go [00:33:00] and to play a show, to get to a point where you're actually selling a decent number of tickets, you kind of can't play more than once every month and a half, because there's so much of it here and your friends are not going to come see you every weekend.

[00:33:22] Because, and that's who you're relying on at least initially to come see you as your friends, 

[00:33:28] Ciyadh: [00:33:28] right? Your first 10, your first 10 fans, but where you get to your like one, like the 1000 true fan thing. 

[00:33:35] Valerie: [00:33:35] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I don't think a musician who starts out in Nashville could get 1000 true friends. Really, unless they were already, they had ties like their parent was like in the music industry, that sort of thing.

[00:33:49] Ciyadh: [00:33:49] Yeah. I agree. 

[00:33:50] Valerie: [00:33:50] I don't think that's possible in Nashville because everything is so it's, there's so much more demand or, I mean, so much more supply than there is demand. [00:34:00] There's you're not going to get paid. And 

[00:34:05] Ciyadh: [00:34:05] the demand is so transient, right? Like people are like just in and out of Nashville all of the time.

[00:34:11] Valerie: [00:34:11] Yeah. Yeah. And they don't pay attention to like musicians at all. I met this guy at improv Fest where like my duo performed, my duo,  Speak Up, and this guy was from Florida and he had come up to play at the improv Fest. And we asked him, you know, we had gone out to brunch one day and we asked him, you know, what do you do?

[00:34:35] Because we were just telling people how we make money. And he was like, Oh, well, you know, I'm a, I'm an artist. I do a bunch of different things. We were like, Oh yeah, like, cause all of us do too, but it's not like, Oh, we make our money doing that. And so we're like, so, so what are you doing? And he's like, I've never had this response before.

[00:34:52] Like, no, one's just automatically been like, Oh, of course you're an artist and you do multiple things. Like tell me more. And then he told us these things that he did, [00:35:00] where like he paints like pet portraits and gets money from that. And he does, he does music, music stuff, and he, you know, occasionally like just does across the board art stuff, but he gets paid to do it cause he lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. And we're like, wait, you get. You mean, like that's how you make your living. We were just accepting that you do all these things. Cause of course we do them too, but like, we don't get paid for them. Like we like work in non-creative fields, even if we work for like some, some of us worked for like creative, companies like industries involved in entertainment, but it's not in a creative role whatsoever.

[00:35:47] So we were blown away just by the, he was blown away by the fact that we were like, Oh, of course you're an artist. And do all these things. That's just the norm. We all do that. And then we were blown away by the fact that he was [00:36:00] actually making money at all these things all these different things, but I mean, it's because he lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, like that's, he can do that. Yeah. He can do that. Yeah. I mean, I guess it's kind of like moving to LA or New York too. Like if you're right. Eight people just it's like, what are you doing? Oh, well I'm an actor yet. So, so all the rest of us that was a given but yeah. And then as, I mean, I did, I guess I went to college for recording industry. 

[00:36:39] So I got training there with some things, but it  a lot of it was pretty much kind of like, this is how you would do it if you were part of the machine. Yes  and I'm not part of the machine and never wanted to be. And they were like, you're going to [00:37:00] need to be an entrepreneur. It's like, Oh, okay.

[00:37:01] Well, I don't really want to do that either. And it's like, Oh, well you have to do one or the other. 

[00:37:06] Ciyadh: [00:37:06] Yeah. Right. There's no, there's no, well, in entrepreneur doesn't have to mean. I'm going to start the next Sony or like make my own record label. Although that's like also a very  it's much more approachable than I think most people realize, 

[00:37:23] Valerie: [00:37:23] Oh, starting your own record label.

[00:37:25] Yeah. 

[00:37:27] Ciyadh: [00:37:27] But you know it's one, it's like starting a podcast in the same way of like, people are like, Oh, how do you do that? And it's just like, you just do it. When the record label is like, you just, you pick a name and you, I mean, there's more to it than that. Obviously I'm simple, like over simplifying it, but like it, there are those things that you can do.

[00:37:45] Valerie: [00:37:45] Yeah. I mean like most publishing companies in Nashville anyway, are a piece of paper. Their LLC is like songwriters will start their own publishing company to retain more of their money. And then they will [00:38:00] outsource like 10% of their wages or whatever, 10% of their publisher, why just not other songwriter.

[00:38:07] Cause they're two different things two like publishing admin companies and there are publishing admin companies that make their money just doing, like working the Excel spreadsheets to make sure these people get paid. And you know, that  songwriter gets to keep 90% of the publishing royalties. And just give 10% for that other person to do all this stuff they don't want to do.

[00:38:32] So most of the publishing companies, they just choose a name and make an LLC. And it's just a piece of paper, but that's, it, that's all it is  but like I also, I don't think the, how to be an entrepreneur thing was freely something that was taught either. Like I knew that for like, publishing companies or whatever.

[00:38:59] And it's like, [00:39:00] okay, well I could have paid the business permit, whatever to, to have the publishing company, but I was making no money from music. So I was like, I don't like, why am I doing it? I'm making no money. Like most people don't do it first. They start making money and then they go, Oh, I can retain more of my money if I do this.

[00:39:31] So again, I guess to answer the question of like, how do you get the skills or whatever? Well, I did go to college for that part to teach me the behind the scenes and business stuff  and probably really got more out of the song writing classes than I thought I would, because I'd already been writing songs.

[00:39:52] And like performing my songs for about five years, four or five years, by the time I went in there, but [00:40:00] I did that. And then for comedy, like I started taking improv classes and I just didn't have, like, I took the class and figured out what it was and then pretty much immediately, it was like, okay, I'm going to do my own show.

[00:40:22] So I didn't, I guess that's the more sort of rock and roll performer. Like it's not very rock and roll to just wait. Like, I think it's important to have like a basic idea of what it is you're doing to gather that information somewhere, wherever it is. But you can sit and think about it for way too long.

[00:40:46] So I didn't do that. I just said, all right, I understand what this is. I've been to a lot of shows and I've taken a few classes time to do this, and [00:41:00] I want to do this. I don't, my I'm not here to take classes. I'm here to do the thing, but I needed some knowledge of what the thing was, right? Yeah. Yeah. And it was much less accessible than like music was.

[00:41:15] Uh, Oh, 

[00:41:17] improv. 

[00:41:18] Improv. Yeah. 

[00:41:19] Ciyadh: [00:41:19] Yeah. I would totally agree, but like, I have no idea. Like, not that I have no idea what that is, but like, I couldn't tell you what that was, but like when I was five, I could be like, Oh yeah, that person plays piano. They are a musician

[00:41:34] Valerie: [00:41:34] right. Like people will be like, Oh, whose line is it?

[00:41:37] Anyway? It's like, yeah. That's the only reference. Oh yeah. Right, right. Yeah. So yeah, I just kind of went with it. Cause I didn't know a lot of musicians, like when I was in high school, I was the only musician I knew playing shows like that. I went to high school with that I knew or, or friends with or whatever.

[00:42:00] [00:41:59] Obviously I need the people playing with me, but from school, no, they're like, Oh yeah, I'm a guitarist. But it's like, I've never heard you play. 

[00:42:10] Ciyadh: [00:42:10] You've never invited me to a show. 

[00:42:13] Valerie: [00:42:13] It was, it was such a stark contrast between what I was doing with when they were like, Oh, we're having a Spanish honor society party.

[00:42:22] And I was like the party planner officer or whatever. And I was like, Oh, can't be there. Got to get it. Get the end. Gonna gonna be a natural guys. Bye. As opposed to like, people were like, Oh yeah, I play guitar. Oh, Metallica is cool. Right. And it's like, okay, but have you heard the show? 

[00:42:42] Ciyadh: [00:42:42] Yeah. 

[00:42:43] Valerie: [00:42:43] Yeah. So I guess I got also, John taught me a little bit of like, Four track tape recorder tie recording before college.

[00:42:56] So I had a little bit of knowledge there just in [00:43:00] finding people who know more than you do, which I think is typically the quickest way to learn. Just find the people who know more than you do and talk to them. 

[00:43:09] Ciyadh: [00:43:09] Yeah. I think that's an important point to, to reiterate. It's like somewhere along the way, you will have someone who teaches you something and there's this idea  I feel like there's this idea out there anyway, that you can just like, learn the thing. Like it'll suddenly come to you if you practice it. And it's like, no, I mean, you can get really far, but like, even if the way that you learn to play an instrument or do animation or whatever is through a video on the internet, like someone's still taught you.

[00:43:41] Like that is not completely self-taught in the way that people have framed it to be in the, in the age of the internet. 

[00:43:51] Valerie: [00:43:51] Yeah. Well, I mean it, well, I don't think that's really new in how people are framing it because it's so romanticized the idea of [00:44:00] being any kind of artist it's like, you have to just like.

[00:44:03] No, you were born and then God just like tapped your forehead with his fingers. This is what I do from this point forward. I have no actual, I don't have full brain function yet, but I know. Yeah. Like that it's that it's just romanticized. So much. And it's like before I took guitar lessons, I taught myself one chord on the guitar.

[00:44:34] And so I would sing unfortunately to the parent of the classmate who I would ride to school with. I found a guitar and I just played this one chord. It was probably very out of tune and would just create on song and started singing all the way to school. And I didn't know anything more than that one chord.

[00:44:58] And that was probably a year [00:45:00] before I actually started like actually learning how to play guitar and committing to it and whatever. So I mean, that's, you could sit there and be like, Oh, well, one day she decided to make a change and I did do that, but there was stuff leading up to it. That's much less interesting. 

[00:45:22] Ciyadh: [00:45:22] Right. It's not sexy to say it  like I took lessons and someone taught me how to do it, or, or I read a book or I watched a video. Yeah. Like that's not sexy. Cause it doesn't make your art seem, it doesn't make it seem  like, you know, like out there, 

[00:45:42] Valerie: [00:45:42] like 

[00:45:42] Ciyadh: [00:45:42] people want art to be something that they can't achieve.

[00:45:47] So they're like, Oh, Oh, well, you did that. I could never. And it's just like, actually you could. 

[00:45:52] Valerie: [00:45:52] Well, I think, yeah. That's to some degree. Yeah. That's actually exactly what I was going to say. Next is like, it takes away the [00:46:00] illusion that that person gets what they get, because they just have a completely different they were blessed with gifts that you just weren't blessed with.

[00:46:10] And it's like, no, that person worked at it. You could have done that too. But you chose not to. And people don't want to know that. No, no people don't want to be told that it leaves to some extent your decisions and actions are directly influencing where you are at on your journey. Obviously there are external forces as well, but as people we do have, like, if.

[00:46:43] I said I wanted to play guitar or if somebody said, Oh, I want to be a rock star, but then they never play any shows. That's not going to happen. Right. No rockstar has ever not played a show. [00:47:00] That's not happened. 

[00:47:02] Ciyadh: [00:47:02] That's how you, 

[00:47:03] Valerie: [00:47:03] that's how that works. Exactly. Um, You know, you play bad shows. You, you play shows that you look back on and go, Oh, I wouldn't do that again in a show or you go, Oh, I accepted that gig.

[00:47:19] And you know, it really wasn't a good fit for the band. I wouldn't do that again. Or  you know, whatever it is like even, even with writing, because I've written for so long, I've written songs for so long, which I really started doing long before I was a musician I would take because the copyrightable parts of a song or lyrics and melody, and I would like take a word or phrase, and I would write an entire song about it and it would be like, there was a melody to it. And I had the lyrics and we as a child, I was doing this and I didn't understand really what I was doing. I can remember, like, [00:48:00] I could have told you that I wrote a song. I didn't even know that's what I had done, but I did do it.

[00:48:07] And I did it several times. And I can remember like copying, like Bon Jovy lyrics down into a, into a notebook. But  there's always like the rock starting to get to be in the rockstar by always being great. And people don't really want to see that because that makes them look, have a harsher, maybe look a little bit more harshly at the choices they're making when it's like, Oh, I'm.

[00:48:44] In this situation that I don't want to be in, and I continuously don't do anything to get out of the situation, or I continuously, like, I really want to learn how to play a guitar, but I've still never bought one. [00:49:00] You, you do have to put in the work and it's like you said, it's not sexy. We want our rock stars to be sexy and it's not sexy for them to be like, it's a job, it's a job.

[00:49:15] Ciyadh: [00:49:15] Yeah. Like art, art is job even if we don't get paid from it all, all of the time, like it's still a job. 

[00:49:23] Valerie: [00:49:23] Right. And America is very, like, we don't see artists as jobs. Like, I think they're people who would see Ariana Grande and be like, that's not a job, but it is a job. 

[00:49:40] Ciyadh: [00:49:40] Yeah. Squarely fits into the, like, she works at that.

[00:49:45] She's good at it. And she has skill and she's trained. She has trained skill things that she does. And we can go on and on about how much money she makes from that. But I do believe that art should [00:50:00] be, you know, funded, compensated. Yeah. 

[00:50:02] Valerie: [00:50:02] Compensated. Yeah. Yeah. And it's like, it's very, it's not like that all over the world, you know?

[00:50:12] So it's very like much in America. It's why don't you get a job? Oh, they're a musician, but it's like, okay. But they work full time and they do this in their spare time. So they've essentially got two jobs, whether or not you're giving them money or not. And you won't spend $5 for a ticket, like, come on. 

[00:50:39] Ciyadh: [00:50:39] I gotta be better about that.

[00:50:41] Valerie: [00:50:41] Yeah. It's very much, they're sort of like a you can't win. You can't win because people see it as like a hobby or like you're wasting your time. But at the same time they praise rockstars and it's [00:51:00] like, you still don't see them as having a job though. Like, like what are you, what is I don't, I don't understand people's viewpoint on that.

[00:51:12] Like, it's the thought that. Sort of more maths and sciences are more respectable jobs and they are respectable jobs, but I noticed how y'all are listening to music. Somebody made that. 

[00:51:33] Ciyadh: [00:51:33] Music is music is such a part of our lives that people don't even think about it. You go to the store, there's music in the store.

[00:51:42] You go in your car, there's music in your car. You  go to the waiting room, you watch it on TV. You have it on your phone. It's in a YouTube video. It's, it's a song it's on YouTube. You know, like it's 

[00:51:53] Valerie: [00:51:53] all of our commercials. 

[00:51:55] Ciyadh: [00:51:55] Every single place that you could imagine it to be in math and science are two and [00:52:00] math and science is part of music too, but yeah, it's just like, yeah, people, it would be great if people could see that it's everywhere and that somebody made that 

[00:52:08] Valerie: [00:52:08] well, there was an interesting thing.

[00:52:10] I was at a music industry event, basically that I get invited to for the Songwriters Guild which. I have tight. I'm not a part of, but obviously with Rick's association with them, I still get, you know, invitations to things sometimes. So I went and I think it was like one of the founders of team core or something like that was there.

[00:52:35] And he made the point of like, obviously, like people are very flippant about like, not wanting to be. Not flipping, but they're, they like don't want to pay for music. Cause they don't think they need to or whatever. Whatever method it is, he was like, and they'll like take people's [00:53:00] songs and use them in different areas.

[00:53:02] Like, Oh, I'm gonna use that for my video. Well, did you get permission? No, you didn't. You know, people, people won't think twice about doing that. But his point was you have this, people have this idea that, Oh, it's just writing a song, whatever, like it's, it's like this sort of hobby thing, but if it wasn't hard, why don't you just write the song like that?

[00:53:28] I mean, instead of stealing the song, if it's really not hard, just write the song, write one. And like, that's really the point where it's like, Oh see people, it's not so easy now, is it you, you thought it was, and you have this idea that art creating art is just very easy, but if it was you just create your own, right.

[00:53:52] You wouldn't need to buy anyone else's 

[00:53:56] Ciyadh: [00:53:56] you wouldn't, you would no one else's art would spark joy for you. 

[00:54:00] [00:54:00] Valerie: [00:54:00] You wouldn't need to steal anyone else's, you know, for your profit, like if you're using it in your video, that is for you, like, you know, just, just write the song. But yeah, I don't, I, I'm not, I'm not fond of how we view art, but like there's a sort of with more technical fields where like, Oh, okay, well you go study this thing and you do it, but it's just, it goes back to that sort of thing. It's not sexy to believe that your rock stars had to study what they do. Yeah. Yeah. It's like, no one thinks, like people aren't like, Oh, maths and sciences. That's so sexy.

[00:54:48] Like it's 

[00:54:50] Ciyadh: [00:54:50] no, one's 

[00:54:51] Valerie: [00:54:51] no, one's putting that label on them. Like maybe on doctors, but it's after the fact. That they put that on there. So, 

[00:54:59] Ciyadh: [00:54:59] and that's the only [00:55:00] because of how much money. 

[00:55:00] Valerie: [00:55:00] Exactly. It's a money thing. 

[00:55:02] Ciyadh: [00:55:02] It's the money. That's totally a money thing. 

[00:55:04] Valerie: [00:55:04] It's not like, yeah. It's Oh, they make so much money.

[00:55:09] They're a doctor. It's okay. But like where you into the lab researcher? You think that's are you that just turns you on? No. Well, I don't, I don't know that. Yeah, that's totally a money thing, but I, yeah artists of any kind in America are kind of forced to do their stuff for free. Yeah. A lot in their lives.

[00:55:49] Yeah. Yeah. And, and kind of do what we do have a job that pays the bills, so, and constantly be on the lookout for [00:56:00] all right what possible thing could I do to even just get a little side money going and, and have that creative outlet? 

[00:56:13] Ciyadh: [00:56:13] Yeah. So, I mean with that in mind, is there any like little side thing that you want to shoutout  besides JK JK?

[00:56:23] Valerie: [00:56:23] Well I have an animation thing in the works. 

[00:56:27] Ciyadh: [00:56:27] Okay. So it's on the internet. 

[00:56:28] Valerie: [00:56:28] It's not on, 

[00:56:30] Ciyadh: [00:56:30] it's not on the internet. You said it here. So that means it will come out. 

[00:56:34] Valerie: [00:56:34] It's called the Adventures of Mr. Kasnoozable  Bob. And it's based on the comic strip. I used to draw in math class, in college to entertain myself and my friend.

[00:56:48] And I've got that at the very, very ground level. Cause I don't really have a background in animation at all. And [00:57:00] then I am working on getting the music. I am going to be releasing  my plan is to release actually all the songs as music videos, and trying to do it complete film it completely in my apartment because I've got a ring light that has a few different cool settings and I'm hopefully gonna like, sort of make a very low budget but good quality looking music videos for these to where there's not really at this point, I'm thinking maybe there's not really a lot going on in the videos, but it's still impactful in some way. 

[00:57:43] So it got that whenever we can perform live again, I'll be performing one, my one woman show, which I don't even remember the Oh, the title right now is Definitely not Val's return to music  but [00:58:00] I'm also, this is something that is on the internet right now, a call it's a web series called Trying Hard that I was involved in  I was a producer and 

[00:58:15]I did a lot of things in it. I'm also part of the cast I'm in the second episode  so that's by, it was created by Angelo jello, whatever my, his name's on there. I'm not sure what he credited himself as. 

[00:58:37] Ciyadh: [00:58:37] It'll be linked so people can watch it. 

[00:58:40] Valerie: [00:58:40] Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Cool. Um, yeah, that's the thing. That's on the internet right now.

[00:58:44] So that's, those are the things I'm plugging. Eventually I'll have music on there. Eventually I'll have, uh, JK JK on there eventually I'll have animation, but the thing that's on there now is Trying Hard. 

[00:58:56] Ciyadh: [00:58:56] Cool. Yeah. And whenever you do get those things [00:59:00] eventually, then we'll come, you'll come back on the show and we'll talk about this for sure.

[00:59:06] For sure. So, 

[00:59:07] uh, this is a show about music kind of tangentially related anyway, relevant. Uh, 

[00:59:14] Valerie: [00:59:14] so what have you, 

[00:59:15] Ciyadh: [00:59:15] what have you been listening to lately? As far as music is concerned? 

[00:59:19] Valerie: [00:59:19] I think 

[00:59:20] Ciyadh: [00:59:20] people would want to listen to you as well. 

[00:59:25] Valerie: [00:59:25] Okay. Well, I recently got back into a lot of bands that I was in, in college, a lot of European metal bands.

[00:59:34] The main one, like I'm almost exclusively listing to  HIM now and  Villa Valo their  songwriter front man, all that good stuff. He released three songs back in March as well, like at the start of this so I've, [01:00:00] I've been listening to one of those a little bit obsessively  too, and I've just been pretty much like I have all the, HIM CDs and I've just been like popping them in my record player and they're playing continuous just right.

[01:00:13] We finished this one time for the next one. And just those eight albums, mostly there's some other bands that like I've. Remember death stars was one that I liked. They had a song called death, dies hard. It's obviously a metal band. It's a glam death or something like that. It's very, I don't know, KISS, but darker.

[01:00:42] Okay. Within Temptations, like a huge band in Europe, that's really sort of symphonic metal, Abacos, symphonic metal, but most of what I've been listened to really is him and other [01:01:00] Finnish artists who are. Performing in Finnish so I don't know them well enough. Yeah. I'm just trying to learn Finnish and

[01:01:10] Agents is another Finnish band, uh, Villa Valo and Agents. They released something, but Agents is also a band separate from, from HIM and there was another, there was like a singer that used to sing with them that I'm not Raleigh, something like that I don't remember his name exactly, but. Mostly, I'm just listening to like his stuff in that band stuff, because it's the closest to kind of.

[01:01:38] What I want to do. He's very Edgar Allen Poe influenced as well. 

[01:01:41] Ciyadh: [01:01:41] So 

[01:01:42]Valerie: [01:01:42] that's probably why

[01:01:45]Ciyadh: [01:01:45] Thanks so much for coming on the podcast.  It was fun to get to talk to you even though we, we talked every week. So it was really just like we were catching up was always 

[01:01:55] Valerie: [01:01:55] different. Yeah. 

[01:01:57] Ciyadh: [01:01:57] So it's been a, so much fun. So thank you to [01:02:00] Valerie. All of the things that she mentioned will be linked in the show notes  and we will talk to you all next time. Bye.