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by Silke Hartung

Q & A: Catch Up With Valkyrie’s Rebel Reid

by Silke Hartung

Q & A: Catch Up With Valkyrie’s Rebel Reid

Since NZM last spoke with idiosyncratic Auckland act Valkyrie, the trio has done a heap of work, fine-tuning their music and live performances to be radio-friendly and stadium-ready, finding management, releasing great song after great song (accompanied by world-class cinematic music videos), and generally making a name for themselves in the NZ industry. The late-September release of new single Closer, alongside a typically vibing Shae Sterling video, seemed a great opportunity to catch up with guitarist and songwriter Rebel Reid. Made with the support of NZ On Air.

Last time we talked to you Valkyrie were very much at the beginning of this ride, and now you play big festivals. How has music changed your life in the last two years or so?

Crikey… well music has literally taken us from daydreaming in our rooms playing big festivals to being on that stage! In two years we have done some crazy things, been on tour, performed at Spark Arena with aerialists and pyrotechnics, filmed crazy epic video clips, travelled all of NZ – because of music! All our lives have changed dramatically! Two years ago we were all full time workers! Crikey, I even had all my organs! Music personally has been the light at the end of the tunnel for me, it’s what guides me.

You’ve been booked for a few big festivals in recent time – can you share a few tips on how to make that happen?

Yes, yes of course! Whatever we can do to help our fellow musicians, it can be a lonely world and having mates with tips in this music realm is treasure! Soooooo, here is what helped Valkyrie:

We stayed true to our idea! Our idea was BIG and EPIC and it scared us, which meant it was perfect. We think really big – like Hans Zimmer big meets Star Wars and we just go head in with the idea giving it all our attention!

For example, say you want to perform at Splore? Okay, do your research, see what you or your band can give in terms of point of difference. Valkyrie, well, we dress in costumes so we can feel powerful and brave on that stage. We play big epic music, we have theatrics to entertain and most of our genres are all put together to give a festival a show only we can give!

Think big don’t be afraid!!If you are starting out, write lists revisit them weekly, do little steps to reach the bigger goal play heaps of shows! Get your film mates to film a little reel so that festivals can see your live performance. Be bold invite them to your gigs! Social media is KEY, have a great social media presence. Festivals also look at whether you can generate a crowd. Just literally DON’T GIVE UP, nothing is impossible! 

My #1#Tip: Be friends with your conscious and work together to achieve your dreams cause that guy is literally the only person to stop you!

You dropped off an ‘L’ (used to be Vallkyrie) – how come?

Hmmmm, we dropped one L so we could make it easier for new listeners to find us in the social media realm, that is all… Nothing magical behind this symbolic extraction – or is there? Cue spooooky sound effects…

What are you planning on for the next six months or so?

Actually the next six months might be the craziest time in Valkyrie history! To finish 2019 with a bang we are going to do something a bit different, maybe a bit epic and a bit beautiful, to coincide with our latest single Closer and finish this decade off right! Stay tuned.

For 2020 we are basically refining and defining in a whole! (Here’s a little secret, shhhhhh…) We have been working with a producer from Nashville, Tennessee and we are BLOODY EXCITED for our new singles that are coming in 2020. This is the first time working with an international producer for Valkyrie and it sounds amazing.

The plan is to release our upcoming single Good Thing on February 28, and we plan on a May North Island tour with a secret festival to end that on! Whispers also suggest a possible visit to the beautiful country of Canada! We are definitely planning for something international next year… and that is all I’m allowed to say!

Has expanding the band for live shows changed the vibe? How do you organise so many people?

It changed it for the better 🙂 Having Hannah Elise on bass at Splore this year gave Valkyrie a whole new dynamic! Personally, it made me play guitar better! Silly I know, but she pushed me as a musician and gave me even more inspiration.

Organising extra people is very easy when they are professionals and really good friends. But, you could be the Slash of NZ and if your wairua is off we would never ask you to play with us! Valkyrie is strictly for dick heads, clowns, hippies and laughing till you cry and move in windmill motions!

How does the songwriting dynamic work these days?

Truthfully, we haven’t all written together since the beginning of Valkyrie. Wait, I lie, lol, we went on a retreat to the Waitakere ranges this year and worked on songwriting/creating there! But we generally don’t write together as a band, our dynamic is a bit different to other bands but it works!

I normally write the bulk ofthem as I have been sitting in my toilet since a kid playing my guitar and listening to the 4-walled reverb I have got going on. Then I excitedly call Omer [Gilroy] and Brandon [Haru] and make them listen through the horrible connection of a cell phone, and send a spooky video (of my ceiling) with me singing with my guitar! Me and Mummy (Brandon) will then start producing it over nights in our room and band room with a lot of Coke Zero and chocolate! These days are the hardest days really, but the most rewarding. Awwww, nice memories!

Can you tell us the story behind your new song Closer

I surely can 🙂 It started as an accident really, I strummed a wrong note from the Doobie Brothers and it made me happy! It made me feel nostalgic and literally transported me to my happiest memories! Sooo, there I was sitting in my room writing about this overwhelming feeling of happiness, then ‘boom’ it was born into existence. Closer is not about romantic love but a sort of love that feels like a big fat hug from something bigger than us (like god/universe/whatever you believe in).

Valkyrie lore… We recorded the song in 2017, not as you know it today – it originally sounded like the Lion King soundtrack, lol. As we waited two years for it to be perfect Spotify had solidified its power and the game began to change, leaving epic Lion King Closer in a box that would never be heard!

In comes to be our first-ever Valkyrie ‘brick wall’. What do we do? The original version had so much passion and emotion… but with the rise of Spotify and all it changes in two years we had to become fresh and new – so a modern-sounding Closer was born – the one you hear today.

We wanted the message to be heard more than what makes our ego happier! This song’s message is literally what needs to be said in today’s society. Closer has brought everyone we love and even strangers closer, it really did help us find spiritual enlightenment. But without boring you guys, the story behind Closer is that it kept a band together, through our darkest moments as a band. This song healed us and made us grow. Thank you, Closer. 

It’s quite the hit when played live. What makes it a great song in your own opinion?

I believe it’s the lyrics and music. It’s nostalgic because of that accidental Doobie Brothers’ chord! I think the message is honest and us in our truest form, and people can relate to us because through our smoke and bedazzlement the Valkyrie underneath the Valkyrie lives a very beautiful life!

I think the song is truth and love in a frequency, and literally has a frequency that resonates with humans! Hippie as hell right now, but it is our own love frequency!

The video has this super warm ‘roadtripping with good friends’ vibe. How does roadtripping with you lot look like? If you could paint a picture, that would be awesome!

Well, let’s start with Shae (Sterling, our manager). He’s the clown. He is annoying! If you are sitting in the passenger’s seat he will wind your window down, as you pull up to a busy area, and scream “Hiiiiii” in an ugly girl voice. Then the horde of people look at you funny, haha!

Brandon. Well Brandon is also a clown but his normal car ethics would be to drum on everything, tell jokes, and show us all the latest tech discovery!

Omer is normally the driver. She gets car sickness really bad so she has to drive to make her feel okay! She likes to sing loud along with the music. If she isn’t driving she is sleeping, hahahaa.

Me (Rebel), well, I’m the in-car DJ. I like to match everyone’s vibes… If we have a long road trip I time hype music to stay awake… or if it’s scenic cue Coldplay, Leisure, Emily King, John Mayer, Hans Zimmer. Depends if I’ve taken my meno pills, haha…

Made with the support of NZ On Air.