MUSIC INTERVIEW: Valeras
Following a string of singles, a tour with Yonaka, and a summer of festivals, Reading five-piece Valeras continue their busy schedule with an appearance at Reading & Leeds Festival next weekend. We caught up with guitarist Katie King to reminisce about their hometown’s iconic festival, what we can expect from their set and her festival do’s and don’ts.
You’re appearing at Reading & Leeds Festival at the end of this month, what does the festival mean to Valeras?
It goes without saying that Reading is special to us as it’s so close to home and we get to experience it with our friends and family. It’s also such a prestigious festival that has seen some of the greatest sets of all time. It’s a realised childhood dream that once felt impossible. When we got our first reading email we all screeched and cried as if we’d got through to the judge’s houses. It’s a magic feeling.
You’re from Reading, have you grown up attending the festival? If so do you have any favourite memories?
We’re all proud of where we’re based. Growing up in the Reading community has been brilliant. Having bands like Palm Honey, The Amazons and Sundara Karma to look up to was so special. The little local venues and promoters have always been so kind to us too. To have the festival itself to show interest in us was unfathomable to our tiny teenage brains. Katie was able to hear the festival from her back garden. Rose cried before and after we played it for the first time. Of course we mostly all attended before 12 to get in for free. To be up on the stage instead of looking up at it is still quite surreal. It’s a beautiful cycle of fans becoming bands and fans of that band becoming bands etc. My favourite funny first time festival story was of Rose when she was offered ear protection and nearly ate it because she thought is was sweets. Our real favourite memory is all of us watching The Amazons in a sardine tin like tent in 2018. It was packed and you could feel the buzz. It was so inspiring to see a Reading band command a crowd and really bring it.
Are there any other bands on the line-up this year who you’d love to check out?
We’ve really been into a band called Childcare so it’ll be great to see how their music translates to a live set. It’s great how they seamlessly marry male and female vocals and their use of backing vocals has had a huge influence on us lately. It’s a good year for Reading, especially on our stage. This year there are some of our favourite artists. George adores Peace and Rose has loved Basement for a number of years. We’ll be closely tied to our stage in the day and venture out at night I think. It’s best to let your ear be your guide.
2019 has been busy on the live front, with a tour supporting Yonaka earlier this year and a busy summer of festival appearances, how do festivals compare to venue shows for you?
It’s nice to be out in the fresh air of festivals. The weather can be a bit of a downer and we’ve certainly experienced both scalding sun and bitter rain. Last year at Reading they were sweeping water off the stage, it was like Niagara Falls. It was so nice to see everyone out in their raincoats standing strong though, it did eventually stop for our set and it was a muddy delight. It will be bizarre being holed up in venues again this winter but it’s probably best to keep out of the freezing cold. We’ve had our summer share it’s time to go back inside. Venues in the UK are brilliant we’ve come across some little independent gems on our journey.
You been releasing a series of singles this year, including the most recent ‘Playing With A Gun’, but are there any songs that you love to play live the most?
In rehearsal whenever we play Intentions we shout “Yes! Intentions!” because it’s so fun to groove to. Your Honey is fun too with the breakdown being a definite highlight. When Rose loses it and the girls are headbanging in sync with George’s guitar screaming you can’t help but feel 10 feet tall onstage. Our newest songs are what we all look forward to most now though. We’ve been playing around with backing vocals and instrument switching. We debut these welcome changes in the UK at Reading festival. It’s nice to try new things to an audience where the majority know your story and are watching you grow.
For those who may be seeing you for the first time at Reading & Leeds, what can they expect from a Valeras show?
It’s RnB rock with danceability. We want you moving and feeling with us. We like to think we deliver something of a spectacle with the three girls at the front chugging and floating. Max holds the fort at the back and George delivers the hooks and supports the vocals. Rose is the powerhouse and drives the songs. We’re proud to say we give it our all every time no matter the size of the crowd. We try to be the band we’d want to see.
What is your most memorable moment on stage?
This summer has felt like a whole lot of memory making. We’ve been too busy making memories to remember! The one that springs to mind first is when Rose spoke in Spanish onstage in Madrid to her family. So special. Either that or when there was a man stood front row in Budapest with a sign that said Mask Plz which is one of our oldest tunes. Sorry to say we didn’t play it. If you’re reading this, apologies and thank you. You made our day.
Finally, what are your festival do’s and don’ts?
- Don’t plan too much, just let your ears guide you because you never know what you’ll stumble across. Some of our favourite bands have been chance encounters either as supports or at festivals.
- Don’t worry about how you look or what others think. Festivals are great for expression and they’re a celebration of everyone’s art and the good things in life.
- Do listen to your friends. Let them show you their passion.
- Do come and see Valeras 15:20 on the Festival Republic stage.
Reading & Leeds Festival takes place between 23rd – 25th August, at Richfield Avenue (Reading) and Bramham Park (Leeds). For more information, the full line-up and remaining tickets head to the festival website.
Interview by: Hannah Gillicker