Following the release of his “Urban Cowboy” music video, Glenn Valles has chatted with VENTS for an interview. Read the interview below!
How has your upbringing in Mumbai, India, impacted your creative process and your musical journey so far?
Back in the day, we always had music playing in our home either on our record player or on the radio. My dad, Edmund, used to play the piano and my mom, Clothilda, loved to sing while rustling up some delicious meals. I picked up my first guitar during my teen years and my brother, Dexter, taught me to play a few chords. So, music played quite a vital part in my growing years in Mumbai. A few years after I graduated from college, I began writing songs and I haven’t stopped. I guess music and songwriting are in my DNA!
What led you to make the jump from the corporate 9-5 job to following your dreams in music? How did the pandemic push this aspiration even further?
When I first started playing the guitar, I used to play cover versions of songs that were popular at that time. Then one fine day, I said to myself, “I can probably write my own songs which could be as good as the one’s playing on the radio.” That’s how it all started. I kept writing songs with the hope that one day I would put my songs out there and someone would probably enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoyed listening to songs by great artists. But, somehow “life” took precedence over that dream, I had to work a 9 to 5 to earn a living and the years soon flew by. However, my original song collection kept growing as I would often write and record songs. Ultimately, it was my wife (and muse), Celvita, who encouraged me to pursue my dream as a songwriter. I soon realized that I must change paths before time runs out on me and focus completely on something I love to do. That’s when I decided to take that leap of faith and plunge eyes wide open into songwriting and the music business. Thus, I emerged in my new “avatar” as a songwriter and I finally discovered my “purpose” in life. This spurred me on to write a song called the “Story Of My Life” which you can listen to on my YouTube Channel – Glenn Valles Music. Here’s the chorus and essence of the song
“Writing songs sets my spirit free
Music gives new life to me
Don’t want to die with songs inside
I want my dream to stay alive!”
On the songwriting front, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise as I could write and record more songs. When I write a song, I sing and play the guitar or keyboards and record a demo “worktape” in my home studio. I then test the song by getting unbiased feedback from professionals in the music business. Once I get to know that my song has some potential and might work commercially, I get a recording of that song done in a studio by professional vocalists and musicians who are skilled in that genre. Like me and everyone else the world over, musicians and singers were locked down too and as a result they couldn’t play they regular gigs. However, they now had more time on their hands to work on and complete my projects in a much shorter span of time and that helped me release a lot of new material. So yes, “every dark cloud does have a silver lining”. In my case, the pandemic magically cleared the path for me like a silver bullet!
“Urban Cowboy” falls under the country genre, but you have created tracks in a bunch of other genres to date. Which genres are your personal favorites, and what particularly draws you into country music?
It’s a bit hard to pick my favorite genre because I love music – period. Any genre of music that sounds good to my ear is what I like to listen to, whether it’s country, pop, rock, blues, hip-hop, rap etc. I tend to write and record songs when something moves me or inspiration strikes me. But, it’s equally important to write songs that people can relate to. The subject matter that I write about quite often determines the genre. However, I’d say that writing country songs does come a bit more easily to me as storytelling is my forte and storytelling is one of the key ingredients in a country song.
What was your inspiration for writing “Urban Cowboy”? How have your life experiences aligned with this artfully-crafted musical theme portrayed in this song?
My uncle, Ivan, was a great storyteller. As a kid I remember being hooked on to his “stories” about life in the Wild West – cowboys, horses, ranches, cattle drives, rustlers, outlaws – the whole shebang! When I grew a bit older, I used to read Western novels by the great Louis L’Amour. I also loved watching Western Movies like The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The Magnificent Seven, and many more. I would listen to the soundtracks of those films as well as other country & western songs for hours at a stretch. Given my love for the “Wild West”, I always wanted to write a country song about cowboys, horses, ranches – the typical country lifestyle that I saw or read about. However, life changed so drastically with the advent of the Internet that it left me thinking – what would life look like through the eyes of an old rancher in this day and age? That’s how the idea of “Urban Cowboy” was born and took shape. Also, the words “Urban” and “Cowboy” was a perfect example of an antithesis and to me it had the makings of a very intriguing and unique title for a song.
What was your experience first hearing the recording of “Urban Cowboy” and seeing the imagery in the video bring “Urban Cowboy” to life for listeners and viewers?
Although I’ve written and recorded quite a few songs, listening to any recording of my song is one of the most joyful and satisfying moments in my life – that joy is indescribable. Listening to the audio recording of “Urban Cowboy” and watching the music video for the first time was no different. For me personally, writing a song is a divine experience! I feel the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through me when I get into that zone. No matter how many songs I’ve written in the past, after I finish writing a new song, it always amazes me as to how I managed to pluck that song out from thin air and breathe life into it! I feel truly blessed!
When it comes to my music videos, I like my listeners to feel that they are watching a three-minute movie. The lyrics are the blueprint for the music video, so the visual imagery has to match or come close to the storyline in order to convey the essence of the song.
I will quote what one of my listeners wrote about “Urban Cowboy” in her comment on my YouTube Channel.
“I love this country-classic music style meeting with a more modern/contemporary story being told. Plus, the imagery in the visual is spot on. If I close my eyes and listen to the lyrics, I feel like I can envision everything. So awesome.”
That, for me is the ultimate compliment a songwriter can get. It’s also so satisfying to know that my creation has made someone feel good for those three minutes. These are the things that motivate me to keep on writing.
Do you have any upcoming projects in the works? What can new and returning Glenn Valles fans be on the lookout for next?
Yes, I do. I am currently working on a new project. I like to keep trying something different all the time. This time it’s a Blues song with a bit of hip-hop and a slight rock edge to it. So don’t forget to look out for “A Troubled Mind” once it drops! Keep it on your radar – you won’t be disappointed! Ciao for now!
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