I wake up to Radio Milwaukee WYMS-FM (88.9) in the mornings; that’s what my alarm clock is set to. And while I enjoy most of the music they play, more than once I’ve floated out of my dreams hearing one song that really haunted me. I thought it was Amy Winehouse at first; it had the same slow, ’70s-funk stylings. The first time, I googled the lyrics “this ain’t no guilt trip,” and found nothing. So it wasn’t Amy Winehouse.
One day I was actually awake enough to hear the DJ name the artist, Valentina, and the song, “Guilt Trip.” I found her MySpace page: www.myspace.com/valentinamusic, found out she was 22, lived in London and was unsigned.
They must like it quite a lot because people contact me a lot on MySpace, asking about it,” she said.
Here’s what else I found out:
She’s more of a songwriter than a musician: “I’ve always been been into music, I started out playing the flute and I was really crap at that, and I never thought about doing anything else, but I always wrote songs,” she explained. She writes all the songs on her site, but works with producer Blue May as well. “Sometimes Iâ€™ll have a finished song and give it to him, and sometimes it will be the other way around where I’ll sing over stuff he wrote,” she said.
Right now, she plays piano, and is just starting to learn guitar. “I’m not very good — it hurts!” she said (I think she meant her fingers hurt). Mostly though, she uses instruments as a tool to write her songs. “I’m not the most incredible pianist…Hopefully that will expand to drums and bass,” she added. They also e-mailed me a few rough cuts, which I thought were excellent.
Stevie Wonder is her musical inspiration: “My mum used to listen to him.” Then there are the obvious ones: Carole King, Joni Mitchell (“an amazing songwriter,” she said).”Songwriting is what interests me — just a really good song.”
“Guilt Trip” wasn’t written for a boy, but for her dad: “I’m half-Italian, and I didn’t grow up with my dad. I was born there (in Italy), then my mom and dad split up. I’ve grown up here (in the U.K.) and he’s been there with my brother. It’s one of those songs that I’ve sort of been trying to write for years, you know what I mean? It came to a point that I really needed it to get out. A lot of people can relate to it…it’s like, I’m not trying to be a bitch but you let me down.” It also sounds like a paean to a fickle lover, though; at least that’s how I heard it: “It can definitely be like that too, unless you really listen to the verses,” she said.
There’s no release date set for her album — YET: “I’m not signed, I’ve just got management,” she said. She is releasing a single called “Talk It All Through” by the beginning of next year. “We’ve got an album’s worth of songs but it doesn’t feel like an album. At the moment I’m going through different stages in songwriting, and sitting back and working out where and how to get to the next level. There’s more coming.”
What keeps her busy in the meantime? “I work for an Indian head massage company; that’s very random. I also do child minding and various odd jobs that are flexible. I work enough to pay rent and write music at the same time; I’m trying to make it happen.”
(To come: A stream of “Guilt Trip.” In the meantime, check out this sweet remix on the Heatwave.)
(Addendum Nov. 8: The stream of “Guilt Trip. Press play to launch.)