Out Artists on the Rise

photo by Heather Treadway
Melanie Valera of Tender Forever
Melanie Valera’s arrival into music could be called just about anything but typical. While on a trip to Seattle two years ago, the songwriter had a mere $20 in her pocket and performed on the streets with friends in order to ensure a quick buck. A day before her departure back to France, her native country, K Records founder Calvin Johnson showed Valera a detailed map of the U.S. and asked her to join his label. Valera affirms that day as the beginning of a “pretty crazy adventure.”

Before long, Olympia audiences would embrace Valera’s brand of heartstring-tugging indie pop. Valera had previously collaborated with friends covering ‘60s songs in the streets of Bordeaux. “It was kind of horrible,” she jokes. It was this method of directness that led to Valera’s deeply personal performance aesthetic; onstage alone with a laptop and keyboard.

Valera, an out lesbian, fell in love for the first time with a girl at a local concert, sparking what would become an intense long-distance relationship and the inspiration for Tender Forever. “She wrote in an e-mail that she wished she could write 45 songs about what we were going through,” and Valera did just that.

Using simple electronic blips, guitars, and objects around the house, Valera wove together songs for her first album, The Soft and the Hardcore. “I was recording and writing songs thinking nobody would hear it, but I guess destiny made it so a lot of people did.”

Valera anticipates the release of her new Tender Forever record Wider in November along with tour dates in U.S. and Europe. Check takemybreathaway.net for more info. –PC

Free Life Campaign 10/27