Front Row with Club Valley
Our next interviewee for FRM is a Johannesburg rock band which you've probably heard of before; an elusive musical act which has commanded my attention for the past couple of years. Club Valley is comprised of two members; Nigel Sibanda (songwriter/guitarist) & Jason Williams (drummer/designer) and they've been making music together under this moniker in-between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Soo, you may be asking yourself–what makes Club Valley special? I have a few answers.
What makes CV special to me is their stoic affinity towards poetry within their music. I find that decision compelling, rare and beautiful. Their music is reminiscent of the influence of late 90's-to-early 2000's bands such as Interpol, Slowdive & My Bloody Valentine. Club Valley are also the inventors of 'Jozigaze'–a niche musical style which encapsulates the ambient and ethereal tint of shoegaze music, infused with a unique Johannesburg flavour. The band has continued to release enchanting and expressive music, especially over the past year–with latest projects including 'Life As You Know It, The Best of Luck and the Worst of Times EP', 'Infinite Proportions EP' and 'Club Valley 2L EP'.
And during our interview–Nigel added: "But gazing is also a way to rock, it’s a style choice, an accent I find very cool. We’re inspired by a lot of bands cause we’re a band but honestly any moving piece of music is inspiring you know."
Club Valley also have a past which I am exceedingly interested in. In conversation with Nigel, I managed to find out that CV actually used to exist as a quartet; with Sei Siren as the former lead vocalist and keyboardist, as well as Timi Afilaka as the former bassist. But due to individual decisions to either pause music, or even relocate, led to the band trimming down to two–needing to re-strategise on how to keep the Club Valley flame burning. And they managed to achieve this–metamorphosing into a two-piece band with a healthy discography of music under their belt.
So enjoy this following interview with the boys over at Club Valley as we delve into how they started their band, the reception towards their latest music, opening for Alice Phoebe Lou, plus they curate a playlist for our readers! And so much more.
Would you mind introducing yourself and including a short description of what you do?
CV: Hey there. We are a musical act called CLUB VALLEY. A Johannesburg rock band, you know–doing our thing or whatever.
Firstly—big fan of your music! And I guess I've always wondered to myself... How did Club Valley actually begin?
CV: It was founded by Nigel Sibanda (songwriter/guitarist) and Timi Afilaka (former bassist) in 2018–from a collection of friends out of a garage in Roodepoort, South Africa. “And for a long time we only existed in house shows & jam sessions”. CLUB VALLEY also performed as a quartet under the same name; with Sei Siren (former lead singer/keyboardist) & Jason Williams (drummer/designer) until 2021.
You released a two-song EP a couple months ago; Infinite Proportions. (I love Concious Is a Fox) How has the reception been towards your newer music?
CV: Thank you! It’s cool, you know. The people that’ve came across our stuff really seem to enjoy it–so much that they come to the shows. It’s definitely made us wanna create more… cause it feels like people are accepting to hear us out. We think it’s beautiful, something to thank God about; people definitely dig it and they’re accepting us into the shared experience!
I'd like to know more about your experience of playing live shows & touring between Cape Town and Johannesburg. How has the reception been towards your music across the country? And where are some of the best spots you have played at?
CV: We lived in Cape Town for majority of 2022 and really started playing the music we wanted to down there. Being part of the shared experience means we can exist in both cities under the same guise–so it’s rad that there’s people supporting the music on both ends.
Nigel: Most venues suck to be honest. So I’d rather the spaces I enjoyed playing at the most.. Shyne, Chant Radio, The Glue Factory, Live Sessions ZA, False TV. We’ve played bigger venues or whatever but if you’ve ever been to any of those places–you’d know wtf we were talking about.
Jason: The Alice show was really great, the sound was top notch.
I find it soo interesting that you refer to yourselves as a 'Jozigaze band' because there is such a shoegaze element infused into your music, dressed in dreamy soundscapes. Who are your biggest musical inspirations when it comes to your unique Club Valley sound?
Nigel: Yeah totally dig the dreamy shit–we aspire to be shoegaze, you know, well I do atleast... The gaze part in “Jozigaze” has everything to do with our perception aswell, which informs my point of view. Gazing is also a way to rock; it’s a style choice, an accent I find very cool. We’re inspired by a lot of bands cause we’re a band–but honestly any moving piece of music is inspiring you know. Here's a playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0CVI0jpZWal0x0h1r1AeDb?si=dsN5rPHHThOOyPPz2p0nyw
Is there any advice which you've picked up within your short career which you could impart to any emerging musicians attempting to make a name for themselves within the industry?
CV: Not really no... well, maybe. To do it for yourself first should be the ultimate goal for you. There’s a lot of self-growth that happens in choosing… Day in & day out to be creative.
What are you looking forward to most in the second half of 2023?
CV: The Club Valley Studio Album.