Music is the best medicine of all, and that’s certainly what it’s been lately to Viana Valentine. The singer-songwriter released her latest record Fever Dream just last week, on June 2nd, a collection of songs that focus on snippets of her life through the last few years, a time that has been unusual and unordinary for her. Valentine used her songwriting as a means of processing what she was going through, with tracks that focus on the joys of early love, not feeling worthy of someone’s affection, feeling like life is overwhelming you, and feeling like you are exposed. It’s highly relatable to listeners, too, because obviously, these are thoughts and feelings that everyone has.
While songwriting doesn’t necessarily come easy to Valentine, it is a common practice for her, having first tried her hand at it as a child. Most recently, she was the frontwoman of the pop-rockers Royal Street, but after they separated, she needed a defined musical endeavour, which led her down the road toward Fever Dream. Despite the band’s dissolution, Valentine felt compelled to stick with her previous band’s focus on guitars and raw instruments, which you hear throughout Fever Dream. It’s been a very nice transition for Valentine from band leader to solo artist, and it’s really just a first step for her toward a much larger musical world.
We recently checked in with Valentine for a track-by-track rundown of Fever Dream, discussing the songs, their origins, and how they all came about.
1. “Rough Around The Edges”
“I wanted the album to open up with the way that most of my songs start out, just my old-as-hell piano and I. I love that this was recorded in my kitchen with the cat watching birds in the window and the dog napping on the couch.
“‘Rough Around The Edges’ is just an honest snapshot of who I am and where I’m at in my life. I feel like I’ve spent many sleepless nights thinking about things I could’ve done better, or what type of person I should be. I wanted to reflect on where I come from, a house nestled in the woods, barefoot summers, simple living. How that, mixed with realities of life and growing up, have made me who I am today, a little flawed, a bit rough around the edges, still spending all of my quiet time in the wilderness, never too worried about material things.
“The magical thing about writing music is that you can look back to see who you felt like you were at a particular time. ‘After wading in the rivers, I tend to swim upstream.’ I rest, I collect myself, I tap into the simple moments in nature that have always given me a recharge, and then I continue on into the future, singing, creating, growing.”
2. “Would You Love Me”
“I’ll start this one off by saying, dating is TOUGH. Finding your self-worth can suck. Feeling like someone will accept you for exactly who you are seems like it’s just a daydream that would never actually happen. I was going through the trials and tribulations of dating and just kept feeling like everything was surface-level.
“Everyone would initially just judge what they see on social media, and it made me so nervous. I’m such a layered person, and I felt nervous to be exposed, which is so not like me. I was like, yeah, you like that I’m a singer playing gigs, but what about all of the nights that I won’t be around for? I’m extroverted and social until I burn out, so after a bunch of shows, will you be cool with me being silent for a full day binging Netflix so I can recharge? Will you understand the way my brain constantly spins out?
“‘Would You Love Me’ is just basically what I was thinking to myself while sifting through the dating pool. Would you love me when I’m broken? Would you love me when I’m not myself? Would you love me when I’m lonely, and I don’t know how to ask for help?”
3. “Hella Depressed”
“I never really knew what depression was until. I never really liked to talk about it, because I felt like there were people struggling way worse than me, but as I’ve talked to people and grown up a little, I realize that everyone has such a specific mental health journey, and it’s ok to share about yours.
“So, ‘Hella Depressed’ is about what I do when I’m going through it. Some of the things that make me spiral are feeling comfortable with who I am, and that I am enough. Those times where like I’m wasting time, but not being able to pull myself off of the couch, or I have too much time, and I overthink and completely overwhelm myself.”
“This song is a love letter to my city. Providence is where I started playing in bands, had my first apartment with my friends and bandmates, learned so many lessons, and drank way too many shit beers in. It was during the pandemic, and I was driving home from work (while places were still open), and the city was a snow-covered ghost town. I parked my car in the middle of the street and listened to the snow hit the ground.
“I was enamored by the contrast. That quiet moment in a place that’s typically so full of life made me fall even deeper in love with a place that holds so many memories. Music-wise, I wanted this song to be a straightforward kind of ‘band song’ to pay tribute to how I started off in this city.”
5. “Fever Dream”
“Ever fall in love, and it feels like a whirlwind? That’s ‘Fever Dream’ all of the way. Your head is spinning, you want to puke, but in a good way, you feel safe and scared all at the same time. Last year I fell in love fast in a way that is so not like me. I allowed myself to let loose and just let the feelings flow, baby (emoting is usually not my strong suit, unless I’m writing it down).
“I remember saying to my producer Greg that I wanted a super funky staccato bass line to start it off and then have the song build, and that’s exactly what we did. The second chorus on this is my fave with the groovy guitar line, and we had such a blast creating the trippy vocal intro.”
6. “Sad Summer”
“Man, the summer of 2020 was a bit of a hell hole for everyone, but I felt like I was drowning. I remember driving to the beach one day after taking care of my mom (she had just had two brain surgeries), and jumping in the ocean and floating for what felt like hours, just wondering when things were going to let up. I felt so defeated. My relationship was in a toxic place, my dog had just died, we had just lost two wolves at Wolf Hollow. I was so numb.
“I remember sitting in my car after my float sesh, and writing almost all of the lyrics in about an hour and realizing how badly I needed to allow myself to feel something. I recorded this on my piano at home and I was back and forth about whether to release it, but after stepping back from it, I’m so happy it’s a part of this album.”
“This song is all about the beauty of change and embracing and allowing it into your life. Which isn’t friggin’ easy. ‘I don’t wanna be evergreen. I want to see the way the seasons make me change.’ I feel like sometimes I try to hold onto the person I used to be, and as I get older, I realize that’s just not practical or healthy. It’s ok to change as you get older and different things happen to you in life, and you learn and grow.
“Also, something I love about being in New England is the ability to embrace the seasons. I’ve always thought that it builds so much character to have to go through months of icy tundra and then be rewarded with magical summers. It makes you appreciate what gifts every season has to offer, and I think about life the same way. Shit happens; you learn from it, you change, you grow, you become better. You don’t want to stay the same forever.”