Toronto indie poppers have big dreams and the work ethic to make it happen.

Genre: Indie pop
If you like: Lauv, LANY, The Band CAMINO
Recent music: Champagne (Single), Last Birthday (EP)
Next: Field Trip Festival, Toronto, Sat. July 9

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It’s fitting that I meet the shimmering indie pop band Valley on a sunny afternoon. Sunrays brighten our collective Zoom backgrounds, much like their upbeat music brightened my day as I prepared for our call. Used to meeting artists online with several individual video screens, I’m delighted to see the whole band in one frame, all squished together on a couch. From left to right is bassist Alex Dimauro, lead vocalist Rob Laska, drummer Karah James and guitarist Michael “Mickey” Brandolino. The group is taking a break from songwriting in Laska’s apartment to tell me about their recent successes and upcoming plans — both of which are impressive.

The Toronto band got its start “serendipitously,” as Laska puts it. Dimauro and Laska grew up in the same suburb and joined a band in high school, which Dimauro recorded and produced in his basement. As other band members moved away for college, the pair remained determined to create. The duo planned to record a few demos but arrived at the studio to find their engineer had accidentally double-booked the room with James and Brandolino. In what they call their “sitcom moment,” the four bonded and have been writing music together ever since.

Valley has racked up a notable following in the last two years. Their nostalgic hit Like 1999 went viral on TikTok and they’ve toured with Nashville’s COIN and The Band CAMINO. Their most recent accolade is a JUNO nomination for Group of the Year. In the same company as Arkells and Mother Mother, it’s clear this is a band to keep your eye on. Although they’re quickly on the rise, the band could not be more humble.

“We write to appease a wide audience, including ourselves. Being recognized is definitely special but not expected,” Dimauro shares.

Based on the online profiles that interact with Valley’s music, their audience is indeed varied. The band uniquely exudes both youthfulness and maturity, and this duality makes them compelling to many. Their songs playfully reference ’90s TV shows and misbehaving on summer nights, but there’s also a level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence that’s captivating.

Their newest single, Champagne, is a prime example.

“The hook is, ‘I’ll turn this pain into champagne.’ It’s an uplifting song with a dark twist,” James explains. James is the primary vocalist on this track, which is a fun change of pace for the band. “We wrote Champagne the same week we wrote Like 1999, so it’s been in Dropbox for the better part of a year and a half. We wanted the song to have its own moment. It’s about taking something that’s challenging and negative and finding the silver lining.”

The group recently returned from their first ever sold-out U.S. headline tour and it’s a high they’re still riding.

“We’ve been a support band for a long time, and we’re very thankful to the artists that have taken us on the road. They changed our world and allowed us to grow a fanbase that’s so supportive,” Laska says earnestly. “We’re just thankful people showed up! We didn’t know what to expect and then we show up to a venue in Chicago and there’s a lineup around the building. It’s nuts for four Canadians. The tour really solidified where this band is and where we’re going.”

The band members are a mellow bunch as they chat with me, politely taking turns to talk and careful not to cut one another off. Their temperaments match their answers when I ask how they stay sane on the road. Far removed from the outdated rock-and-roll lifestyle, Laska credits therapy as his greatest tour resource.

Brandolino loves finding a quiet coffee shop in each new city. James emphasizes the importance of making the tour bus a sanctuary.

“It can be like sleeping in a coffin: you can’t sit up in your bunk,” she explains. “There’s not much room, but it’s your room. We got lights and put up notes and artwork that fans gave us.”

Dimauro brings up cuisine on tour and it gets the whole group excited. If there’s one thing Valley love, it’s food. They start rating their lunches out of 10 and recommend a list of Toronto vegan restaurants (Buddha’s Vegan Restaurant, Matty’s Patties, Odd Burger and Lov all make the list).

Having built their career on singles and EPs, the band is now writing their first full-length album. Although they’re currently collaborating in the same room, they’ve learned how to write while distanced.

“We can pretty much make a record anywhere now; we just need a laptop. Sometimes not even that, a phone will work,” Laska states. “Some days it’s easy, we write a song in two hours. Other days it’s 16 hours. It’s like a Happy Meal, you never know what toy you’re gonna get! We just wake up, show up and go for it.”

As for the future, Valley balance big ambitions with realistic expectations.

“A dream of ours is to play a summer concert at Budweiser Stage. I’m manifesting that!” Laska exclaims. “I picture a hot summer day, everyone biking and walking over and putting on a show with all our friends.”

“We’ve also learned not to have such heavy expectations of ourselves,” James adds wisely. “We have goals, but you can’t expect your career to go a particular way. All we can do is work as hard as we possibly can. What matters is that we still enjoy doing it.”