It’s very rare for us to see an artist’s first attempt at songwriting. Usually, we hear a very polished second, third or fourth draft. But Teen Valley, the new project from Terry vs. Tori guitarist Manuel Jiménez Vélez, gives us a glimpse at a talented musician’s first attempt at writing lyrics. And it’s pure genius.
Beneath layers of reverb and chorus, Vélez’s songs are pop gems. Catchy and bittersweet, "You Can Kill The Past" would be a feat for any talented songwriter. Driving and frantic, these songs are exactly the late summer jams we need.
"You Can Kill The Past" is being released on cassette by Solidarity Club Records from Los Angeles, California. While at Athens Popfest, I ran into Gregory Johnson, who runs the label, and he informed us about Teen Valley’s new release. When I heard the album, I knew I had to get an interview with Vélez about his writing and about the recording process that brought about "You Can Kill The Past." Read the interview below:
You’ve been in Terry vs. Tori for a number of years. With Teen Valley, you’re doing everything yourself. What was it like to write and make a record by yourself?
Vélez: The most difficult part was the vocals, to me writing a catchy vocal melody is the worst. I have a really hard time. The rest is more or less easy. Cristian Bohórquez from Escuelas Pias and Martes Niebla helped me record the EP -- he also wrote the drums (I have no clue about drums). "You Can Kill the Past" wouldn't have been possible without him.
I saw on Bandcamp that you thanked Cristian Bohórquez for helping you make the album. Was this mostly recorded at home or in a studio setting?
Vélez: Yes, he has a pretty nice home studio, he did a great job and I'm super thankful.
The whole record is very dreamy. Did you use any interesting gear to create that atmosphere?
Vélez: Just big amounts of reverb, delays, ods and some chorus. I'm pretty basic when it comes to adding effects. The mix is just Cristian. He did a perfect job capturing what I had in mind for this record.
What is the scene like in Seville?
There aren’t that many alternative bands unfortunately. The good thing about that is that we are all a family and we all know each other, but yeah, I wish there would be more, especially young ones. I would recommend Vera Fauna, Everything That Can Be Invented, Martes Niebla, Escuelas Pías, and Tracksuit Town.
There seem to be some consistent lyrical themes on the record. What was the process like for writing lyrics on this record?
Vélez: That's an interesting question, and I'm glad you asked. The tracklist is in chronological order. The first song I wrote is the first one on the EP. I think they tell a story about how I was the first couple of months of this year, pretty chaotic, and writing this EP was a form of catharsis. The lyrics are just about relationships, and all of them are about people that don't mean a thing anymore to me. That's funny, but I guess that's life. Anyway, I'd be super glad if people relate to them in one way or another. I think that's what really matters.
What’s next for Teen Valley?
Vélez: I don't have much time since Terry vs. Tori is going really well. We are writing new songs and playing lots of gigs. I don't think I'll ever play these songs live, but yeah, if I ever write and record new songs by myself I'd like to release them as Teen Valley, for sure.
You can buy a copy of the tape from Solidarity Club Records here.