Valley Maker will be performing with Grace Joyner and Those Lavender Whales at New Brookland Tavern this Thursday and Friday at The Royal American in Charleston with Dear Blanca. These dates close a two week East coast album release tour before heading to Europe for 14 dates and then a return tour on the west coast to close out 2018.
While in the tour van, Austin Crane of Valley Maker was able to call SceneSC and chat about his history and connections with South Carolina, his tour, and his new album.
“Porches. I really love hanging out on people’s porches,” was the first response Crane gave after being asked what he missed most about South Carolina. He followed it up with the fact that he missed sitting around and building relationships through music and chatting, and though he thought it was a weird thing to miss, it seems to confirm that he cherishes people, the outdoors, and of course, music.
Crane was raised in Florence, South Carolina, where he was exposed to music through church and local high school bands. Crane’s religious background gave him the opportunity to get involved in music within the church, from reciting hymns, to eventually playing the piano. At the age of thirteen, he was given a guitar and learned how to play on his own by playing chords along to a boombox. Throughout high school he would write out music and play with friends in small indie rock and folk groups. Crane said that from a young age, music was something he wanted to share with others.
From Florence, Crane headed to Columbia where he earned a double major in economics and Russian in the honors college. To graduate, he had to work on a project that couldn’t be directly related to his studies — Crane chose music.
“That’s where Valley Maker came from,” said Crane, who said he wrote music and lyrics for his project, which developed into what he does today. “I start with guitar part and come up with melody, then I write lyrics to fit the music.”
Those going to the show will get to hear songs from Valley Maker’s newest album, Rhododendron. The title of the album, which is the name of a beautiful plant seen both in the southeast (where Crane grew up) and in the northwest (where he lives now), introduces the idea of connection between different parts of our lives and our connection with nature. “Humanity feels difficult in a lot of ways and I like to make connections with the natural world.”
Hearing the process as to which Crane went about working on this album sounds quite intense; Crane got to work with a lot of good artists and created a lot of music quickly. He met up with Chaz Bear of Toro y Moi, who he met and befriended in college and frequently played shows with. They had always talked about recording together, so when they happened to be in the northwest at the same time, they got together and created four songs in four days; “I’m really grateful for that opportunity,” said Crane, who had mentioned that it was one of the best music experiences he’s had.
From there, Crane collaborated with producer Trevor Spencer with the hopes of finding appropriate musicians for the music. Crane was able to work with drummer James Barone of Beach House and bassist Eli Thomson of Father John Misty. The foundation of the music was recorded quickly and from there they had several weeks to ornate the pieces with a variety of instrumentals and vocals.
“I’ve always been influenced by song writers that have a lot of space in their music, with environmental aspects that don’t feel rushed, they’re natural,” said Crane. His (very) long list of sound that has been influential in forming his own style included artists like Jason Molina of Magnolia Electric Co., Bonnie Billy, and Bill Callahan along with work like Phil Elverum’s Mount Eerie project. “How they write music is very beautiful and inspiring to me.”
Austin Crane’s smooth, raw voice shows his Southern roots in a subtle, natural way and pairs nicely with the collaboration of percussive instrumentals and folk-esque guitar. Though he says he knows he’s on a singer-songwriter/folk spectrum of genre, Crane’s entire history in music, from his church hymn days to his indie high school bands, seems to have developed into the beautiful sound that is Valley Maker.
“It’s kind of a dream come true for me,” said Crane.
VALLEY MAKER performs their song “A Couple Days” Live from Wrigley Field in Black Mountain, NC.
Shot & Edited By
VALLEY MAKER is:
Austin Crane: Guitar, Vocals
Grace Joyner – Keys, BGV
Nic Jenkins – Percussion
Blake Luley – Acoustic Guitar