• The Hang with Brandon Ray – August 16 at 7:30 PM
  • Interview: High Valley is Both Retro & Progressive on Fan-Curated ‘Dear Life’

    Photo by Robby Klein

    Photo by Robby Klein

    Canadian duo High Valley, who released their acclaimed major-label debut Dear Life last month, is known for giving back to and connecting with their fans. At their recent release party for the album, they took it a step further, connecting with Food For The Hungry to donate a pair of shoes to someone in Burundi, Africa, for every attendee.

    “How cool is it that we get to share our thanks and pay it forward at the same time with a donation to Food For The Hungry,” the duo’s Curtis Rempel shared in a release. “Tonight not only celebrated our new album Dear Life but the event directly benefitted the community we’ve gotten to know in Burundi.”

    High Valley had much to celebrate. Lead single “Make You Mine” boasts over 6.6 million streams, and the brothers have recently been touring with Martina McBride on her “Love Unleashed Tour.” They’ll kick off next year headlining in Europe. Dear Life is the fruit of years of labor, driven by the strength of that single.

    “Even when Brad just had the demo of [“Make You Mine”] after he wrote it we just started performing it,” Curtis says. “First time we got together to play it, it just felt super natural compared to anything we’d ever played before. That was kind of the moment where we were like, we want to make an album that sounds like “Make You Mine” ’cause this is way too much fun.”

    “[It] just reminded us of what we’d always done,” Brad continues. “We didn’t have to think about it, we didn’t have to try.” Their sound is largely based on the music from their childhood. “Growing up we were all bluegrass, all gospel, all acoustic all the time,” Curtis adds, “so it just easily felt the most real.”

    For Dear Life, the duo turned to their fans. “For years we’ve been asking our fans stupid questions like, ‘What shoes should I wear to the awards show?'” Curtis shares. “We put the demos in the fan club and said, ‘What songs do you guys like?” Like the duo, fans favored “Make You Mine,” and the songs they picked from the 40 demos informed the track listing of Dear Life. 

    “It gave us more confidence,” they share. Their fans’ favorites began to click with larger audiences; Dear Life, released last month, was well received. “We really owe [them] a lot of the credit.”

    The album features sonic complexities – it’s intensely bluegrass while leaning electronic; classic in construction while lyrically fresh. “[What I] love is when people say it’s very progressive or it’s very retro, and they’re saying the same two things but they mean opposite,” Curtis says. “If we can be known as progressive and retro at the same time, then mission accomplished.”

    “We love brand new music – we didn’t grow up with any current music, just a bunch of old records – and now we’re learning about Imagine Dragons, I love the Chainsmokers EP right now, we love all this new stuff,” Brad adds. “We’re still pretty old school guys, so it’s cool when you can meld the two worlds together.”

    Brad co-wrote all but two on the album, “Soldier,” penned by Josh O’Keefe, and “The Only,” a co-write between Jon Nite, Ross Copperman, and Nicolle Galyon. Nite and Copperman are friends with Brad; the team pitched him the song for the album, but the lyrics weren’t a perfect fit with what they wanted to say. “They went [back] in and tailor made it for us which is honestly pretty great, a huge compliment,” Brad shares. “It just speaks to how humble they are even after all their success. Now it’s one of our favorite songs to play.”