“The Princess of Rostrum Records” is a title that carries some heavy expectations, but they are expectations that Vali is more than eager to meet. The young New York native’s Kiss the Sky EP came out on the independent powerhouse label last year and on the road to her second project, Paper Cherade, she found herself maturing along with her music.
Vali’s long grind towards fame is following much of the same route that Rostrum’s did. Both have worked tirelessly at their craft for longer than most think, and Vali hopes that her work will pay off like it did for her label. Do a lot of people know her name? No. Will they soon? Between her impressive voice, determination, and Rostrum’s track record we wouldn’t bet against it. We had Vali swing by the office to talk about hooking up with Rostrum and what she plans for the future.
Interview by Max Goldberg (@goopygold)
Check out Vali's "Dimes" featuring Wiz Khalifa
What was your inspiration musically behind Kiss The Sky and how was that changed musically?
Kiss the Sky was created in L.A. and it had more of a pop sound throughout the EP. It definitely had more uptempo songs and to me, it felt more “California.” For this new EP, I’ve taken it more in an urban direction. This one is a little darker, some of the songs are more minor, and the meaning behind them are a little deeper. I’m growing up and the music is getting deeper.
Two and a half years ago I moved to L.A. because New York was starting to feel safe. I felt like I wasn’t grinding as hard here anymore and I was getting comfortable. I moved, went to L.A., and did it. I didn’t have my friends, I didn’t have my family, I just had to work on my music all day. It definitely helped my sound. It’s scary but that fear pushes you to keep moving forward. You’re not going to settle when you don’t have anything to settle with.
What will your sound be going forward?
I definitely want to bring my music back to my urban roots because of where I grew up and the artists I’ve listened to. I can’t pinpoint my sound because I don’t think I sound like anyone else but I definitely want to have a feel good groove to my stuff. Something like what TLC always had.
What are the features and producers to look out for?
I just dropped “Dimes” with Wiz Khalifa and I’ve got a video coming out for that. I have possibly another feature that will be on this, I can’t say who it is yet.
I moved to L.A. I didn’t have my friends, I didn’t have my family, I just had to work on my music all day. It’s scary but that fear pushes you to keep moving forward. You’re not going to settle when you don’t have anything to settle with.
How did you end up signing to Rostrum?
I had been working with Rostrum Records for years. I started as a dancer and I met my now manager Benjy Grinberg [founder of Rostrum Records] through one of the artists I was dancing for. I started working with Wiz on all his old mixtapes. Rostrum always kind of had their eye on me but they never signed me because I don’t think they thought I was ready yet. When I moved to L.A., I started recording like crazy. After that, Rostrum felt I was ready so they signed me.
So the work you did with Wiz was pretty early?
When I did those songs, Rostrum wasn’t even really a huge company yet. It was more just Benjy Grinberg. He was just starting to work with Wiz and that the goal was to create a label and have Wiz on it. That was supposed to happen eventually, but at the beginning he just gave me a track and asked me to write a chorus. So, I sat down, wrote some lyrics and melodies, then I literally recorded it on my GarageBand and send it to Benji. He would send it on to Wiz and then Wiz would approve it.
How tight is the whole Rostrum team?
Very tight. Wiz and Mac are the anchors of Rostrum but everyone is really supportive of each other. We have Leon Thomas, Boaz, TeamMate, Donora and myself who are all in different lanes but are all really tight. We’re all about to come up right now so we’re going through it together. Everyone really respects each other and we go to each other’s shows. I always go to Mac’s shows, I always go to Wiz’s shows, I will go to Donora and Teammate and Leon’s shows. It’s awesome, honestly. It’s a much different experience than a major label because it’s not as much a competition as it is just making good music on a label that is supportive.
Have you worked with Mac Miller?
Not yet. But I was there when he got signed, like I’ve been there for his whole career. We will definitely work together in the future.
What experience do you want fans to have with your next EP?
I want them to get to know me a little bit more and a little deeper. Definitely between my love life and different situations that I’ve gone through, there’s a lot to tell. I have a song called “Lotto” that’s on my EP and it’s just about how this could be my lucky day because I’m about to get my break. I have a song called “When the Rain Goes” that has to do with love and how painful and confusing it is. It would be cool to have my fans start to connect with me on a more personal level.