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Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and Valleys Interview: Staying authentic despite the noise

Thrilling us with an interview packed with festival hopes, their new release How Far We Fell and showing gratitude, UK band Peaks and Valleys guides into their fascinating lives.

Hello there Peaks & Valleys. Thank you for sitting down with us. Where in the world can we find you today and what is your normal breakfast to get each day started?
Hello! Thanks for having us. Today, you can find us in Edinburgh, Scotland. Although, we tend to jump around quite a lot. Sometimes, we randomly go to Paris. Sometimes, we celebrate Midsommar with hedgehogs in Sweden. Sometimes, it’s hard to even get out of bed.

“Speaking of getting out of bed, what is your normal breakfast, Cammy?”
Meet Cammy. He plays acoustic guitar, sings, and cooks a mean bolognese.
Cammy: “Coffee and cigarettes.”
Meet Sylvie. She plays violin, steals flowers, and hangs out in train stations even when she’s not going anywhere.
Sylvie: “I don’t usually wake up in time for breakfast but when I do I eat whatever I feel like, or more realistically, whatever I can find in my fridge.”
Meet Kelly. She plays piano, harmonizes with car alarms, and, in her free time, plays catch with her inner demons.
Kelly: “I put this awful green powder into my smoothie and hope for the best.”

Please tell us more about your exciting new release?
Kelly: “How Far We Fell is a four song EP available on all streaming platforms now. We’ve put our hearts and souls into these songs, and I know everyone says that, but like, we really have. These songs stemmed from close proximity and Mexican food nights, impromptu songwriting sessions in graveyards, soggy BBQs, and dissonant daydreams hastily jotted amongst phone note grocery lists and IOUs.”

What are your goals for 2023?
Cammy: “My goal for 2023 is to keep living like I might get hit by a bus at some point. Helps me to enjoy everything that’s going on right now.”

Kelly: “In addition to Cammy not getting hit by a bus, I would say our biggest band goal is to record a full-length album. With over an album’s worth of original songs, we’re a bit backlogged having written so much music during the pandemic. Other 2023 goals include: building our fanbase, getting signed or represented, and really just performing as much as humanly possible.”

Sylvie: “I’d add that we are really hoping to find (or create!) our musical ‘home’– we feel we have not yet played at the ideal venue for our music and we want to keep honing in on what that is and where we can find it. We have recently talked about planning our own intimate gigs in venues conducive to truly listening and connecting, and bringing in like-minded artists.”

Where did the band meet, and how did everything start?
Cammy: “Kelly and I met busking in a tunnel that never used to smell like pee, but now it often does. The good old days.”

Kelly: “It’s such a shame because it’s such a magical tunnel. But yeah, I was on holiday in Scotland and heard him singing in said pee tunnel, and I asked if we could sing together. Afterwards, I had this strange premonition that we were meant to be in a band together, so I told him as much. Fast forward a few months, I’m back in Scotland again, I meet Sylvie playing a gig in the basement of a pub, a few weeks later COVID hits, now I’m stuck in Scotland, and Cammy, who was in France at the time, gets sent back to Scotland. So now, during the UK lockdown, we all join forces and inadvertently create a band. We started out by sending each other sound clips and ideas remotely, and started rehearsing in person as soon as we could.”

Sylvie: “After we met at one of the last live gigs before lockdown, Kelly asked me if I wanted to come up with a violin part for a song she and Cammy had written. I was immediately drawn to these people who didn’t see a global pandemic as a reason not to start a band. I think a big reason the band worked right away was our shared love of not only getting around difficulties that others might see as obstacles, but actually using them to our advantage. That beginning impetus continues to drive so many of our adventures, like the soggy BBQ mentioned earlier. We decided to go ahead and have a 4th of July barbecue even though the forecast said torrential rain– that day ended with hot dogs sticking out of Cammy’s pockets and a new song.”

Pros and cons of being a musician?
Cammy: “The upside of being a musician is giving ourselves a place where we can invent something. The downside is trying to figure out how to make the noise.”

Sylvie: “When someone comes up to us and says they were having a hard day and our music gave them a lift, or gave meaning and dignity to their sadness, that’s when I’m most grateful to be a musician. We do important work in realms where words can’t reach. As for cons– every performance could have been better.”

Kelly: “One pro of being a musician is getting paid in drinks & tipped in loaves of bread while busking. A match made in heaven really. A con would be coming up with a band name we all like. Maybe we should change our name to ‘Pros & Cons.’ What do you think guys?”

I love how you all enjoy blending genres. Do you feel more free to create whatever you feel like?
Cammy: “I’d say we feel as free as we feel like depending on the day. We’re always boxed in in some way or another. Just on good days we notice it a lot less.”

Sylvie: “Our genre-blending is very exciting for me as a violinist with a classical background– I never realized how much freedom was possible, and all without renouncing my origins. To really access that freedom I sometimes think it’s best to not even think about genre– as a wise homeless man once told me in a dark alley in Lisbon, ‘music is music.’”

Last, where can we find you all live next or do you have tours planned for the new year?
Kelly: “Having just had our EP release in Glasgow, we are taking a bit of a break for Christmas and New Years. But keep an eye on our socials (@peaksvalleysband) for gigs if you are local to Edinburgh or Glasgow. We are also submitting to a bunch of festivals for 2023, so we will be posting about that as well as soon as we hear back.”

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Interview by Llewelyn Screen