It is no secret that rock music has been in dire need of transfusion of new creative blood for years now. Luckily, frontwoman Syd Duran and her bandmates are about to breathe some life back into the scene. For their upcoming debut album, “I Waited for You,” was produced by Grammy-nominated Johnny K (Disturbed, Finger 11) and mixed by Neil Avron (Fallout Boy, Linkin Park.) Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, Syd sings with fearsome conviction, summoning all the just powers of rock into her three-octave range. But Syd is about more than technique or stage presence. She has stories to tell: stories about isolation and betrayal, of misbegotten love and life out of whack. As the album shows, her rock vocal chops would mean nothing if Syd didn’t sing from the heart. It’s simple and raw – no horns, no synths, no auto-tuned perfection. Valora’s passion, soul and dedication to their craft is something that has turned the heads of industry insiders, music critics and won them legions of fans. However, at the end of the day, it is the band’s unique and powerful sound that has quickly established then as one of the top band’s to watch in 2012! Icon Vs. Icon recently took part in a Q&A with Syd Duran to gain some insight on the origins of Valora, the making of “I Waited for You,” and what fans can look forward to in the months to come.
What are your first memories of music in your life?
I was raised in the church, and grew up listening to a lot of gospel singers. As a kid, I remember listening to Yolanda Adams while completing my chores.
What made you pursue music as a career instead of going a s different route?
Singing was the only thing I truly loved to do. For as long as I can remember, music was more than hobby, but a lifestyle for me.
Who would you cite as your biggest influences as an artist?
For those who may not be familiar with the band. How did Valora come about originally?
I started the band in 2008. Our current single “I Waited For You” was already written, and I was ready to get it out there for the world to hear. I searched for other musicians who were as committed to music as I was, and we began performing anywhere that would have us.
What is the meaning behind the band’s name, Valora?
Essentially it means “valor.” With that comes strength and empowerment, which are all things I have tried to incorporate in the writing of Valora music.
What can you tell us about your typical writing process?
There’s nothing typical about it. I have to have an open mind when I’m getting ready to write a song. I love collaborations as well as writing on my own with acoustic guitar. It really depends on the personalities and preferences of the group of songwriters you are working with. Sometimes we have a semi-produced track that we sit down and write to. Other times we start compeletly from scratch.
You wrote some songs with Kara DioGuardi. What did you learn during that process?
I learned that honesty is the key to heartfelt music.
You worked with Ahmet Zappa on a graphic novel. What can you tell us about it?
The album shaped the experience of creating the graphic novel. The stories and illustrations were inspired by the music.
As an artist, what was the biggest challenge in putting the album together?
I wrote over 100 songs for this album. The challenge was holding out for the best group of songs to put on the final track list.
You worked with Johnny K on the record. What did he bring to the table for a project like this?
Johnny really understands the importance of purity in music. What you hear on the recorded album is what you will hear during Valora’s live performance, particularly in regards to vocals.
The album’s release date will be here before you know it. How are the tour plans coming along and is that something your are looking forward to?
Touring is the best part! I can’t wait to get on the road and begin really promoting the album!
What do you hope people come away with after seeing your live show?
My goal is to take them to a place they weren’t expecting to go. I don’t hold back anything in my live performance, and my intention is to overwhelm the audience with an outrageous performance, submerging them in Valora’s world for as long as we are on the stage.
You were featured in Revolver Magazine as part of their ‘Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock’. That is a pretty big honor. Do you feel that has had any impact on the band’s growth?
Absolutely! I am so thankful to Revolver Magazine for giving me the opportunity to stand alongside legendary frontwomen like Amy Lee.
This debut album has been a long time in the making and is shaping up to be very impressive. What is the biggest thing you have you learned about yourself long the way?
I learned that public speaking (interviews) doesn’t have to be a scary, dreadful thing. The more I do it, the more I like it!
What is the best piece of advice that you can pass along to someone who wants to pursue a career in music?
I believe the songs are still the most important factor in setting you apart from everyone else crowding up the music industry. If you have a great song, you have a chance.
In your opinion, what does the future hold for Valora? Both long term and short?
As the front woman of Valora, and as an individual, I’ve seen and experienced… A LOT. Some days are great, and others, seriously unfortunate. I can confidently say that nothing will hinder Valora’s constant creation of new music. The future looks bright and promising.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.