Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Val Halla
Story and interview by Chris Koppers/images courtesy of Val Halla

Val conquered the musical territory from her hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. At the age of 17, Val’s determination led her to Vancouver, British Columbia. For this time period, she was in hot pursuit of getting her music next level. Val’s incredible talent was printed in several well known music magazines. Endorsed by hard-hitting, high-velocity success, she continued her way and opted to return to Regina – where she started touring all over Canada and the United States.

Val is that kind of a musician who actually lives, in that case, her latest release ‘No Place’ – she is constantly on the road or being on stage – for her fans and for her music. Val is an authentic and frisky young lady with a passionate thrill to perform her music. 

She embodies two genres: Grunge and Country. Her style may invented the new vernacular
a la “Gruntry”.

Val had some time for an interview for crankbox-music.

Your guitar teacher had a huge impact regarding your musical skills. How was it, back in the days, when you were taught to play guitar?

Well, I only ever had 2 guitar teachers. The first one was for maybe only a year, but I started with learning a lot of 90's grunge music. A lot of it was just straight power chords so it was great for a beginner because once you learn the power chord shape, you are off and running on a whole lot of songs, and that keeps it pretty exciting when you are just starting out. My second year in of taking lessons, I started taking from a guy who introduced me to the blues. I still don't have a great grasp on theory and scales and the like, but I am still actively trying to work on that, improve, and constantly learn more. It wasn't so much that my teacher gave me any kind of in depth blues exposure, but rather, it was just enough to start the wheels in motion. He wrote out a Stevie Ray Vaughn song for me to learn, a Jimi Hendrix song, and a bunch of random blues licks to try out and get a feel for it. I don't consider myself a "blues guitar player" per say, but I'm probably one of the biggest blues fans you will meet, so obviously there is no escaping that in the music that I write. My goal is to one day be a great blues guitar player, even if I don't get there until I'm 60.

What is your current project?

I'm currently working on my next group of recordings. I came off the road last November, after two years straight of touring, and had to rest myself back to health after catching pneumonia in October and trying to keep touring despite being ill. At the advice of those closest to me, I decided to cancel the final two weeks of the tour and finally get healthy again. Two years straight of touring can leave your body, mind, and soul in quite a bit of disarray. I've got somewhere between 30 to 40 songs now that I have written in the last 10 months, and I've just finished doing demo recordings of them all. Next step is to find the right producer/engineer and musicians to work with for another recording. I may end up releasing two separate albums, I may end up releasing a bunch of consecutive EPs. How they are delivered is not the number one priority for me right now. I just want to get the songs down, with great performances, and great energy, and then let the songs themselves dictate the work flow after that. Nothing is more important than the songs themselves, and I hope that I'll be releasing them to the public in early 2013.

How was your time in Nashville, TN? What did you learn from there?

Nashville is a great city, with a great energy. There's musicians everywhere, and the focus of so many like minded people in one place, really worked as a positive for me to keep me inspired and motivated, and work really really hard. Even though a lot of people say Nashville can be a bit of an "old boys club", i think there are a lot of things changing EVERYWHERE in the music industry right now, and it is even starting to change things up in Music City. The most successful artists these days are the wild cards. There are so many girls who would love to be the next Carrie Underwood, but the world doesn't need another Carrie when we've already got her and she's still doing a great job singing and belting out the hits. Its the people who go into Nashville with their very own vision, and pursue that, whom often times come out ahead. At the end of the day, talent, hard work, character, and street sense are going to rule out over everything... but even with all those things you also just need a little bit of luck on your side.

I'll never forget the 3 years I had calling Nashville home, because for me it symbolized a time in my life where it went from music being a dream I've always had since I was little, to becoming daily life and a reality. I'm sure it would be fantastic to one day have a number one hit, or an internet break through, or some kind of moment when suddenly more and more people are finding out about, listening to, and enjoying my music. But what I've learned in the last few years is that, even if that moment never comes for me, I'm enjoying the journey itself so much, I don't really have time to stop and be disappointed that I haven't arrived at the conclusion yet. As far as I'm concerned, if the pursuit never ends, that's just fine with me!

It seems you are a tough lady. There is no chance to classify your music into a certain genre. Please tell us what are the ingredients to create your lyrics/melodies – the Val Halla-factor?

I try to just be honest and write from heart. That's the reason I started writing songs in the first place, was to express myself and what I couldn't always just SAY to another person, or even SAY to myself. There are things I've acknowledged in songs, that I'd probably still be in denial about if another person was to ask me to discuss it in regular everyday speech. So I know that at least my take on things, or the way I might write my verses and lyrics will probably stand unique because it is from my own perspective as a singular human being. It sounds really obvious, but yet look at how many Top 40 songs all seem to sound like each other, or sound redundant or flat. As easy as you would think it would be to tell people they truly do have something unique to offer through honesty, so many people still choose to copy, imitate, lie, mask, embellish, and pose when it comes to their music.

I don't know that there is an easy answer to the genre question for me, but I don't want to be that person saying "well you can't define me, because i'm not like anyone else, because I do something unlike anyone ever has done before". I mean, at a really simple level maybe that's true to some artists, but even though I my write from my UNIQUE perspective, doesn't mean it is unlike anything ever done before. Influences come out, the more fanatical you are about your musical heroes, and I think that is a good thing. I love John Mellencamp, Bob Seger, Led Zeppelin, The Guess Who, Joni Mitchell, Ted Nugent, Rage Against the Machine, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, CCR, and UK rock group Skunk Anansie (just to name a small few). Though all these artists differ from each other tremendously, I know they all come through a little bit in the music I make.

And that is an important part of my sound. I have loud driving rockers that are somehow still slightly blues influence, with some country flair and some soul type feelings in there too. I guess if I need to narrow it down to try and explain, I'd say I aim and strive for following a path like Neil Young did. Sometimes you need to turn your amp way up, let a guttural few yelps out, and show some anger or some angst or some freedom to rock the F out. But sometimes you need to pull back, sit infront of a fireplace or stare out a window on a country highway, and sing softly and longingly about regret or love or something that lies deep in your heart. Before anything, before being a vocalist, or a guitar player, or a piano player - first and foremost, I consider myself a songwriter. I can change up the style of a song or the way we deliver it as a band depending on the vibe of the occasion or specific venue or bill. What can't be changed is the message or true sentiment behind a song. If you come and see us live, regardless of whether its a heavy rocking night or just me with an acoustic guitar, you're going to walk away from the show feeling like we just sat down and had coffee and gabbed about our lives for a few hours. You'll know a lot more about who I am by the end of a show, and I usually come to know a lot more about an audience and other people's lives in general from performing. Its a back and forth night of sharing and communicating, and it doesn't matter if the guitars are distorted or not. I'm sorry to say that, because i LOVE a good rock show, and a good LOUD AND FILTHY guitar... but when it comes down to it, THAT is not what makes or breaks a good live show. It just isn't.

Even Led Zeppelin knew that all those years ago. You won't find a top touring rock act these days that at the height of their careers are just going to completely change their sound, head off to India for awhile, and come back and make a great folky acoustic rock album. Everyone is too concerned with their next paycheck and staying in the limelight at this point, to think to experiment with the idea of what rock n roll is anymore. One of the greatest heavy moments in a rock song to me, is in Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name Of". I feel like the use of profanity in this song really was relevant and THE ONLY WAY they could have expressed the sentiment of "I won't do what you tell me". And that's an important message for all human beings at a certain point in our lives. Whether if its with peer pressure, or bullying, or constraints put on us by parents, schools, society, or the government, or whatever. Its a necessary human condition we all at some point in our lives will find ourselves in. However, even with its heavy distorted guitars, and high intensity energy, you simply cannot convince me that it is necessarily a better rock n roll song than Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City". The lyrics of Springsteen's song are equally as heavy, though a simple acoustic guitar is his instrument to pour his angst into. That song always spoke to me as a way to get through the dismal and weighing feeling life can put on us sometimes. "Everything dies baby, that's a fact". We are all faced with the reality that all we know in this world so far is life, and though we have no experience of death to rely on, we all must face it. It can be a disheartening truth to face at times, especially when we lose someone we love.

But Springsteen puts all the feelings and emotions of that uncertainty into focusing on the magic life's small things can leave us with when faced with the unknown. "Put your makeup on and fix your hair up pretty, and meet me tonight in Atlantic City". We're all trying to find our way through this life, and yes it sure can get dismal at times, but then you come to seeing the small joys, while you can, and find the only hope their may sometimes be in the darkness. As long as you can find that small joy, or that small hope, you survive. That's rock n roll. So forget genre in reference to how loud or distorted the guitars are... what is the sentiment? Rock n Roll is the survival against all odds of those who the world has been less than kind to. Its resilience, passion, determination, defiance, anger, love, strength, and its surviving our weakest and most vulnerable moments. Even when I write country sounding songs, or blues ballads... I believe I'm writing Rock N Roll. Its a spirit and a way of life, not a genre of music.

Imagine you are about to draw a picture about your songs. How will that picture look like? Vivid colors? Picturesque sceneries?

It would be just a split image. On the left would be the famous portrait "The Scream", on the right would be "The Mona Lisa." That's the ying and yang of life I think. There is either struggle or the overcoming of it, or both at the same time, in every one of my songs. 

What can we expect from you in 2013?

New music, more touring, and I'm working to raise funds as well as supplies and resources for a rock school in Kabul, Afghanistan. To see a short video on what the school is up to and how it is positively effecting the musicians in Kabul please go here:

if anyone would like more information or to help out in some way please contact me or contact the school's founder Robin Ryczek

Thank you for taking your time, Val.


Phil said...

Wow, that's awesome.

Great interview!

I like her music :)

Best wishes,

Ann Lee said...

Great blog. I just typed her name on google and BAAAM, I got a superb coverage of her.

Thanks your publishing this.

Love it.


Vicky said...

Great performer.

Super music blog.

Wish you all the best.


Brittany Gamble said...

Sweet coverage.

Chris, Thank you for introcing her. She has a great voice.

Wish to read more. :)


Ella S. said...

Perfect music with soul.


Lynette said...


I already love her music.

Thanks, Chris

Sonja said...


I normally don't comment, but I have to!

Great blog and a lovely, fresh musician.


Anonymous said...



Mya said...

I really love your blog.

Val is a great artist. I need to see her on stage.

Thanks, Chris.

Sweet wishes,

Brianna said...

Great article :) VAL ROCKS !!!

Honey hugs,

Kim said...

Fantastic coverage!


Haleigh said...

I LOVE her music and I also LOVE your blog, Chris :)

Big hugs,

Nikki said...

Best music blog in town, Chris.

Val got style. Super.


Debby said...

What a delightful reading, Chris!

Love it,

Juan said...

Great songs.

Thanks for introducing her.

Best wishes,

Casey said...

Great interview :)


Chuck Panther said...

Super cool lady!


Sally said...

Fantastic! Your blog...Val's music.

A dream.


Tony said...

Awesome blog.

I already love Val's music.

Thanks for introducing her.


Dylan W. said...

She got style, Chris.
Super blog. Love to read your articles.

Best wishes from CO,

Sam said...

Val is classy!

Thanks to crankbox-music, I know her better and I appreciate the way the performs.

Thanks, Chris


Anonymous said...


Like to read more.

Audrey M. said...

Great coverage.

Val is a real talent.

Thank you for introducing her :)


Debby I. said...

I love your blog.

Gotta check her out.

Debby I.

Lilly said...

Hello Chris,

I've seen her once in Nashville.

She is a brilliant performer with dedication.

Please keep on writing. I love your blog.

Best wishes,

Kylie said...



Melinda said...

I love her music. Beautiful :)

Great blog.