NY indie rock band Valentin Marx have been creating a buzz with their recent single “Made Up” and “Last Time”. Formed in 2012 by frontman Andrew Kissell (lead vocals/guitar/piano), the formerly solo acoustic artist decided he wanted his songs to have the “Full band treatment”, thus recruiting other musicians to write and perform with. The band has undergone a line-up change in recent years, with Travis Pinkston (bass) and Brian Yurachek (drums and percussion) rounding out the line-up. With a unique sound that is classic indie rock but more dynamic in scope, the band embodies a collaborative approach to their songwriting and recording process. The trio have a rich history of musical experience under their belt which has helped them to propel their desire to grow and evolve as a band. With plans to head into the studio to finish their forthcoming EP, the band has local shows and a late summer/early fall tour in the works. You can follow the band and stay up-to-date with all upcoming music and tour dates, as well as stream and purchase their music via the following links. Check out their latest singles “made Up” and “Last Time” below.
Andrew- The band’s most recent single “Last Time” is a reflection on how much you were alienating the people around you who cared the most during a dark time in your life. You have said that although you are in a much better and positive place these days, that part of what makes living a different life possible is staying in touch with where you’ve been. Has it been challenging at all to be in a good place in your life while still reflecting on the things that brought you there? How do you feel that music has helped you?
I think staying in touch with where you’ve been in life, good or bad, and being grateful for the process is a major part of moving forward. Music is definitely the easiest way to maintain that sort of perspective, as I’m able to connect with audiences in a way that is uniformly positive.
Andrew and Travis- You’ve known each other and have been playing together for several years and have said that adding Brian on drums gave the band some added excitement. How did his musical style differ from yours and and why do you feel that the three of you meshed so well together?
Andrew-Brian brings a great deal of focus and variety to the band from a style perspective. Before he joined, the band was moving in a much harder, more aggressive musical style. I remember Travis and I were uncomfortable with where the music was going, but weren’t sure what we really wanted to do either. Brian definitely helped us move in the direction where we wanted to go.
Travis – I think our musical styles were very similar from the beginning, but Brian’s playing style added a fresh new element to our sound. His style is energetic and polished which helped liven and tighten up our sound. A key part of the “Made Up” writing session was Brian’s insistence on speeding up the tempo. That alone made the song what it now is. The reason we mesh so well together has a lot to do with the fact that we’d all played in different bands for years and we came into this project ready to work.
Andrew- Before forming Valentin Marx, you performed as a solo acoustic artist. What made you decide that you wanted the “full band treatment” for the songs you had been writing? How does writing songs with a band compare to writing as a solo artist?
I’ve always enjoyed the solitary process of writing songs from the ground up. It can be fun to play the songs in that skeletal way and sort of test the song in a sense, but I very much prefer the
collaborative approach to building and performing music. It gives everyone a chance to put their stamp on the song, and also frees me up to focus more on my little piece of the performance puzzle.
Andrew- You started writing songs at the age of 14. What was your songwriting process in those early days and how has it changes over the years? Have your inspirations changed?
My songwriting has definitely evolved over the years. In those early days, everything was very insular. As the years have gone by and my influences have expanded, the process of writing music feels incredibly open and free. The limitations as a player also definitely had an impact.
Andrew- What inspired your songwriting style of creating a landscape for the audience to create their own reality and memories of the music?
I’ve always loved when music has space in it for the listener. It has always been a major effort of mine to give the lyrics of a song room to breathe, a chance for the audience to find their own place in the music for their own emotions and interpretations.
Artist Alex Unger made made the art for the release of your first single “Made Up”. How did you meet and come to work with him? How did the idea for the design come about? Do you have plans to work with him more in the future?
Brian– I actually met Alex in a local craft beer joint called City Hops. His work hangs on the walls in there and I was very attracted to the unique style. Quite simply, the band needed some artwork for the single and we wanted to support a local artist in keeping with that philosophy. I asked that he listen to the song and provide us with a visual interpretation. The point was to avoid influencing the outcome by communicating an idea verbally or visually. And of course we were very pleased with the outcome. Fun Fact: Alex drew the red Fender guitar with the white pick board without knowing that is the exact style and color of Andy’s guitar.
Coming from different musical influences, have you found it easy to blend them all together to create your sound?
Travis – Absolutely. There’s a mutual respect and appreciation of everyone’s individual styles in the band that just came naturally.
Brian- You are also in a band called Gillian. Is it challenging to find a balance between two bands and a day job? Andrew and Travis- Are the two of you involved in any other projects outside of Valentin Marx?
Brian– It’s definitely a challenge at times but very achievable with some hard work. You have to make time for your passions or you will never truly be in touch with life.
Travis– I have a local band in Charlotte called Whiskey Contradiction. It’s a country / indie band with me on upright bass. It’s a completely different style from Valentin Marx, which I enjoy. It keeps things interesting.
What were some highlights from your recent trip to LA over Valentine’s Day weekend and what do you enjoy about the city? Did you have much free time to do stuff outside of the band while you were there? How was your show at Hotel Cafe?
Travis – Our radio interview on KX93.5 in Laguna Beach was a big trip highlight. We also had a great photo shoot one afternoon. My favorite thing about LA is how much of a melting pot of culture and style that it is. If you walk the streets and beaches long enough you’ll see a little something for everyone. Our show at Hotel Café was great. It’s a very accommodating venue and we were happy with the draw we received.
Who are you listening to right now? Who are some of your favorite artists that you feel people need to hear that they may not know about?
Brian– The Drums, Deal Casino, Lifeguard, Dead Wicks, The Vaughns
Travis – Lately, I’ve been listening to Vulfpeck, Panda Bear, Bells Atlas, Silver Jews, Jonathan Wilson to name a few.
What’s next for the band?
We are heading into the Studio this May to round out the rest of our forthcoming EP. Also shows around the NYC area this summer, and looking to head out on tour late summer/early fall!