Sydney-based electronic dance act Vallis Alps has been selling out shows in cities all over Australia. Originally slated for one show in Melbourne, they added three more to meet popular demand. And all are sold out. They are now repeating this success here. Apart from Portland and Seattle, all of their current North American Fable Tour dates, have sold out.
The duo is comprised of producer David Ansari and singer Parissa Tosif. Their sound has been described as 'akin to London Grammar and the Purity Ring.' But they do have a lighter touch sonically: pristine-timed euphoria-inducing vocals, that do well not to sacrifice any depth lyrically. Their breakout single: "Young," from their 2015 self-titled EP, cracked the local Top 100 charts and have kept fans clamoring for their music since. More recently, Vallis Alps released an official remix of Troye Sivan’s "Ease ft. Broods" which has clocked over 360,000 plays on online, with their music now sitting at over 25 million streams. Their latest single "Fading," off their upcoming Fable EP, marks a different mode in their music-making but is just as infectious.
For a new band that has hardly done any press in the U.S., we speak to Ansari about his thoughts on why they have struck a chord with music fans around the world. How the pair first started making music together, while more than 7,000 miles apart. And his journey from being a Skrillex fan to now have a soft spot for acoustic music.
AXS: How did Vallis Alps come to be? One of you was in Seattle and the other in Melbourne?
David Ansari: We met in 2010 on our gap year in Israel. One night I heard Parissa sing in a friend’s house and thought ‘she has a really amazing voice.’ We started talking about music and decided that if ever the opportunity arises we should try and work together on something. At the end of the year, she went back to Australia and myself, to the States. In 2013, she had a chance to fly to Seattle and record with me. She was only there for a month. We worked over the internet for the next year-and-half, on the production around the original vocals that were laid down.
AXS: How did you guys come up with the name, Vallis Alps?
DA: It takes its name from the Latin phrase for Alpine Valley which is the name of a valley between two mountains that is on the moon. We’ve since come to know that it’s also a town in Italy. We liked the sound of the name, and the idea that there is a bunch of different kinds of music that we enjoy, and concepts seemingly opposite actually work well together. For example, the lyrics are personal, reflective and nostalgic but it’s over energetic, modern beats.
AXS: Your San Francisco show and several other US cities have sold out already. At this early stage, do you guys have any theories as to why your music has struck a chord with so many?
DA: We talk about this a lot. Parissa and I are so grateful we get to do this. The fact that so many people support us, and our music, is not lost on us. We are always trying to figure out why? So many people are out there making music. Most of it is through word of mouth and on the internet. We can’t take too much credit for it as people have shared it among themselves. But when the EP went viral, we knew we had to invest time back into this project. All these fans were really paying attention and we knew we had to focus on this, so six months later I moved to Australia. Then we had to figure out how to perform a live electronic show. It’s been such a whirlwind year for the both of you. It’s really exciting. Neither, Parissa or myself have seriously pursued a musical project before. The first time we were in a room together … we didn’t know how to be a band. We knew how to make an EP.
AXS: Can you explain how T J Morris of Deep Well Studio played a part in the Vallis Alps story?
DA: TJ is a legend. I’m so excited you know about him. He is the head producer at the beautiful Deep Well Studio in Washington. I met him when I was working at a music store. He came in and bought this incredible piece of gear and I immediately said ‘he must have a music studio.’ He asked me to look it up on the computer, so I opened a tab and he showed me. It was amazing surrounded with wooden logs and high ceilings. The studio is built using trees from the property, it’s a truly homegrown place. Immediately I told him, ‘if you ever need someone to wrap your cables or to clean your floors, please let me know.’ I just wanted to be in there. He was open to the idea and pretty soon I started interning there. One Summer, he was going on holiday to Italy for a few weeks and he gave me the keys to look after, record, make music, whatever. As it turns out Parissa had a good job in Australia and was earning enough to buy a ticket and come over. He is one of these guys that really cares about the craft, ethos and spirituality of creating music. He had a huge influence on us. Without TJ, there would be no Vallis Alps. Unequivocally.
AXS: As an electronic-music producer who do you admire?
DA: I think the first electronic music I listened to that absolutely blew my mind was Skrillex back in 2010, 2011. I immediately felt I want to do what he's doing. It felt impossible. Obviously. Because I was a novice. Then I got into Deadmau5. But it was Flying Lotus that really had a huge influence on me as a producer. This idea that we make things we don't see in the world, I really subscribed to that. I'm a lot less satisfied just copying a sound.
AXS: What is the most important thing you want folks to take away when they listen to your music?
DA: I've always thought that music that in some way lifts you up, and helps in a greater understanding of reality, truth or your sense of self has the ability to makes us feel happier in our lives. There is a clarity that can come from music. And different kinds of music will touch on different aspects of my personality and mood. For example, if I am wanting to feel amped up, a Future track is great. Or I can put on the new Bon Iver and just melt into that. I don't know... there's also so much about actual instruments that I need to learn about. These days, I don't actually listen to much electronic music: there is a richness in acoustic music that I am loving now.
VALLIS ALPS FABLE TOUR
Mar 03 - Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
Mar 04 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
Mar 06 - Los Angeles, CA - The Echo
Mar 07 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent
Mar 09 - Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios
Mar 10 - Seattle, WA - Neumos
Mar 11 - Vancouver, BC - Alexander Gastown