On Kanye West’s track No More Parties in LA, the rapper spits: “I remember Amber told my boy no matter what happens she ain’t goin’ back to Philly.” To West’s former girlfriend, Amber Rose, perhaps Philly was the city that does sleep. A city that sleeps on creativity, innovation, originality and growth. R&B songstress Andrea Valle is also a Philadelphia native. The city may have kept her “grounded” but New York is what took her in and turned her inside out, eventually prompting the 22-year-old to call herself a “Renaissance Woman.”
On the music front, Valle’s sound is heart-rending and poignant, with songs like No More featuring ethereal vocals and stunning avant-garde visuals. She’s joined forces with acts like The Internet to the multi-Grammy nominated BJ the Chicago Kid, but her dream collaborator is producer Kaytranada. Valle’s combination of sound and style hasn’t only helped with her personal evolution, but has paved a unique lane for her outside of music too. With striking blonde braids and a gap tooth, Valle has caught the attention of Vogue, New York fashion week and H&M, where she modelled in their campaign last year. As a multi-talented artist, Valle never limits herself, feeling most at home “centred in creativity.”
Could you tell us about your upbringing in Philadelphia and how it influenced you as an artist?
I come from a great household. Me and my family lived right outside of Southwest Philadelphia and I’ve lived there for as long as I can remember so that grounded me. I couldn’t go to any of the performing arts schools that I desired because of my location but going to a public school pushed me to achieve creative freedom. If I would’ve gone to schools like CAPA [High School for Creative and Performing Arts] or CHAD [Charter High School for Architecture and Design,] I feel like I would’ve been boxed in and trying to find myself because I was like everyone else. So I’m grateful for where I grew up.
What track was your childhood favourite?
I enjoyed listening to old school music because that’s all my mum listened to. People like Stevie Wonder and The Whispers.
How did you first get into making your own music?
My brother’s friend’s older brother had a studio set up in his bedroom and they lived just around the corner. After school, I’d go over and stay for hours just finding beats on Bandcamp, YouTube or early Soulection and lay vocals. A lot of those tracks were on my SoundCloud but they’re hidden now.
When did it transcend from a hobby to your career?
When I was just graduating High School. I was 17 and knew I wanted to pursue music but once I didn’t immediately go to college or trade school it [became] what I wanted for myself as a career.
You’ve mentioned that you started out writing poetry before you started writing songs. Do you still engage in poetry?
I honestly don’t engage in poetry at all anymore. My structure and the way I wrote poetry is completely different from how I write songs now. I’m not opposed to trying my hand at that again and maybe doing some spoken word.
What is the toughest part of creating new music?
In all honesty, for me, I don’t think there is a tough part in creating new music. It’s an exciting thing, you can explore sounds and be more daring than the last song created. I think something you enjoy shouldn’t be hard when you’re solely doing it for fulfilment.
I read that you said Philly doesn’t usually look for female artists but instead searches for the next Meek Mill or Lil Uzi Vert. That being said, are there any up-and-coming female musicians from Philadelphia that you have your eye on?
My top three female musicians from Philadelphia would definitely be Tierra Whack, Brianna Cash and Orion Sun. They’re each so different but innovative in their sounds and personas. I’ve performed [with] and befriended all of them and can honestly say that we all relate on why we do music. It’s our air. It’s genuine and it shows.
You have shared a stage with musicians such as BJ the Chicago Kid, Ravyn Lenae and The Internet. Who would be your dream collab?
That’s a tough one for artists just because I love and am inspired by so many, but right now my current dream collaboration would have to be with producer Kaytranada, for sure.
Summarise Andrea Valle using three songs.
Haha, summarising me would be way more than just three songs.
You describe yourself as “Renaissance Woman” — what’s the story behind that?
Renaissance Woman came from a time where I literally indulged in everything from art to poetry to dancing to music and modelling. Just being super well rounded and centred by creativity. I still feel that “Renaissance Woman” fits who I am, because I now produce as well and slowly but surely snagging new talents every day.
You’ve modelled at NYFW and featured in an H&M campaign. What are your thoughts on fashion’s impact on music?
One would not be without the other. Fashion and music go hand in hand. Without fashion, it doesn’t leave much room for creativity because that’s where you’re able to be yourself, be original and stand out. There are so many aspects to both that it’s impossible to run out of ideas to separate yourself from others. The impact is pretty crucial.
You’ve been vocal before about depression. What piece of advice would you give to anybody that is still looking to find their way? Is there anything that you keep in mind to help get you through even the hardest of days?
A piece of advice I could give — find out why you feel the way you do if it isn’t already evident. Then strip away the cons because finding the problem always leads to finding the solution. I keep God in mind on my hardest days. If you have faith that’s a strong attribute.
During these particularly divisive times, what would you say your favourite thing about humanity is despite everything?
My favourite thing about humanity, despite the crazy world we live in, are the people in my life who add light to it, [who] are there to remind me of myself and keep me grounded. With a lot of the struggles I’ve gone through, I wouldn’t have been to go through those on my own. So to sum it up connecting, growing and loving with others is my favourite [thing] about humanity.
Check out Andrea Valle’s latest single ‘No More’, out now.