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Vallis Alps' highly anticipated debut album has arrived. Cleave is the story of transformation, understanding and friendship. "This album was made over continents, through a broken (then repaired) friendship, a pandemic, us growing and morphing as individuals and as a band. We have poured every emotion and conversation into this album - a dream of ours to always make," the band says. The band's duo, Parissa Tosif and David Ansari's, nearly irreconcilable issues in their friendship led the way for an empowering reconciliation, finding strength in their differences, and became the heart beat of the album. We spoke to the duo about creating dance music with such emotion, and the thoughts behind the album:

Congratulations on such an amazing debut album! What was your intention with Cleave? Is there an anecdote you would like listeners to know before - or after - diving into it?

Parissa: Our intention has always been to spread depth, joy and use music to get to know the world and it’s complexities better. Cleave is us  using music to reflect on growth, change and letting go of old versions of ourselves to make way for new ones. This album is the first time where I’m carefully thinking about whether the song and its lyrics is doing the theme justice. I want to make sure that people can also connect with it. It’s been a lot more of an “outward” facing process than our past work.

David: All of my favourite music is a story of opposites -- the best dance songs are also kind of sad, the best sad songs are danceable. And finding the space between those poles is the most challenging and fulfilling pursuit as an artist. That’s the story of us: two opposites, with different tastes, both interested in exploring the space in the middle of the venndiagram.

We love how it starts - tell us about making that decision and why you wanted to start the album with that moment?

Parissa: Set It Off, Set It Right describes the moment you decide to make a decision in life. It’s the pivotal breakthrough into a new realm of possibility, and so it felt fitting!

David: for me, I liked the idea of starting off the album straight away - no long intros, no ceremonial slow-burns, just “boom”. It felt right to start things off with momentum, and the lyrics “set it off, set it right” is basically the purpose of the song being where it is. 

How do you think you have both grown personally through the making of this project? We have read you very nearly turned away for good from the project - how did these moments inform these songs?

Parissa: Yeah, we almost quit being a band while working on the album. A lot of old issues we’d never faces head on came to the surface, and we decided to do mediation to try and improve our processes. It ended up being a hugely powerful experience for us, and helped us move into finishing the album with true authenticity and collaboration. In every song there is a throughline of our friendship – in For Once a lot of the lyrics describe how we used to feel when we would let each other down, in You and I – we directly reflect on our firenship at its hardest moments – but all in all the theme of Cleave is also directly about us. We had to cut away from (or Cleave) from a version of ourselves that was leading to us fighting all the time and Cleave unto a new way of thinking that made us thrive and see each other’s strengths.

David: I think the most direct outcome is our song You & I, which is the story of how the two of us often feel working together. “I only wanted what you wanted // you always seem to cross the line // we’ve got a million scores to settle, but i can’t put up a fight // can’t even say what got us started, so who even cares who is right? // you & i, you & i // only problem with me & you is you & i.” It’s a story that we wouldn’t have been able to express without mediation, where we were given the space to acknowledge that our working relationship throughout our careers has been filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows. 

And sonically - what have you noticed about your sonic evolution since Fable?

Parissa: Everything was purposeful and thought out. The vocals feel a lot more front and centre and the instruments feel very selected and refined.

David: Fable felt like reaching into a bucket of genres and working with whatever we pulled out. Which was fun, but for Cleave we turned inward and created from a place of understanding, rather than a place of exploration. 

The songs are all brilliant, today our favourite is Ephemera :). Which was the most rewarding for you to write? 

Parissa: Thank you, that’s soooo lovely to hear, I think that’s my favourite too to listen to. My favourite to write was On The Eve of The Rush – the chorus always hits my heart in a particular way and makes me reflect on life.

David: Producing the drums in “Turn It Around” was the first moment where i was like “Okay, i think we just discovered the sound of the album”. They have this sloppy, guy-hitting-buckets-with-sticks feel to them that captured the production language across the whole album.  

Did you work with anyone else on these songs production wise etc? Who else helps to shape the world of Vallis Alps?

Parissa: Our friends and family are a HUGE part of our process whether they know it or not. Because our music reflects our reality, and is a tool for us to go deeper into certain themes, the conversations we have with those around us leak into the songs in such a natural way.

David: We worked with a few others on this record - Doug Schadt and Eric Cannata helped with production at a few key moments, Maribelle Anes and Dylan Nash leaned in with writing help for others.  

We love the Baha’i teaching that you reference “Let deeds not words be our adorning.”  How has that applied to your friendship and the music?

Parissa: This has come to light most in our friendship – our friendship is in tact today because we are always trying to do things to help the other person thrive. Previously we used to just talk about wanting to do that but never put it in action.

David: That quote in particular reminds me to align my outer and inner life - how I think, how I act, and how I speak should all be aligned, otherwise I’m not living out my highest nature. That means being honest in how I speak with Parissa, and living out my best intentions without letting my ego cloud things up. 

Ideal place to listen to the album for the first time?

Parissa: Somewhere comfortable and relaxed where you can soak up the lyrics.

David: Rural night drive. Go visit your grandma and play it in the car on the way. 

What is currently inspiring you right now, aside from music?

Parissa: I am surrounded by people that are trying to make the world better. This week we’ve been running a competition to support the Asylum Seeker Centre and we just met some of the staff there – they blew me away with their love for what they do, and shared so many stories of the resilience of asylum seekers.

David: My two muses right now are Verner Herzog and standup comedy. I’m sure there’s a throughline there but I’m not sure what it is. 

What’s next?

Parissa: We’re touring the USA this September, then we’ll probably take some time to enjoy being with our families a bit. We love music and this job but also love to live life, be in our communities and create in an environment of stability.  

David: USA tour is happening in September, and beyond we have a few other surprises in the pipeline, including another release we’ve been quietly cooking up for a while now. 

Listen to Cleave HERE.

Photograph by Joe Brennan.