Interview By: Selena Cintron
NYC duo, Larissa Vale and Kyle Hawken, have been working with each other for roughly six years with no plans of slowing down as they gear up to move down to Nashville and not to mention release a full-length record. This solid ten track record titled Endless has been mastered by the prolific Ted Jensen, who has worked with the many inspirations to Black Satellite like Alice In Chains, Marilyn Manson, and Deftones.
BT: So, to start, how did you two meet? How did it all fall in place to land you right where you are today?
Kyle: So we actually met senior year of High School. We met in a class called Rock Ensemble. It was a performance arts class where they pair up guitar players, bass players, drummers, and singers. You pretty much practice a song at home, then come into the class and cover it, like perform it in front of the whole class. We got paired up and here we are.
BT: What High School did you go to?
Larissa: State College area High School
BT: How long has it been since then?
Larissa: We’ve known each other for like 7 and a half years, but we’ve been extensively writing with each other for 6.
Kyle: We started our music about 6 years ago and then we got really into the heavy rock scene seven months ago really.
BT: Have either of you ever thought about expanding the group to more than just two members?
Kyle: We tried to do more members in the very beginning. Honestly it just became too much drama and too many minds trying to fight into writing the music. We write the music 50/50 anyway, so we just didn’t want someone coming in and changing everything.
BT: Congratulations on your new record, Endless! [released 7/7/17] Tell me, who came up with the title?
*Both looks at each other in confusion*
Both: I don’t know.
Kyle: I think I mentioned it first. Not to take credit, but my favorite song is “Endless”, so why not call it Endless?
Larissa: I’m just going to go with the easy answer. We could’ve chose Valkyrie because it’s another lead single, but it doesn’t sum up the message like Endless does.
BT: What is your writing process like?
Larissa: We always start with an instrumental first. So if I hear Kyle playing something and then I think of something to say i’ll run into the room and yell “What was that? That was so cool,” and i’ll start singing something or throw in some ideas like “What if you do this on guitar and i’ll play some notes,” and he’ll put his spin on it. So it’s a lot of back and forth to each other making it a complete and 100% collaboration. So, it’s not like one single idea that makes the song. We both craft it.
Kyle: Yeah, we throw it back and forth until it’s complete.
Larissa: Yeah we do it by section or by measures. You really can’t say who wrote what because it’s a knot you can’t untie.
BT: Do you work with producers? Is there any help with creating songs other than your two minds?
Kyle: We don’t have a producer. We have our mixing engineer Asher Zeitschik. He has helped on the mixing end, and what mixing is today it’s kind of like producing where he throws in some fun little layers to make it sound a little more full, but no we do not work with a producer.
Larissa: He was there throughout the demoing process. Other than that, there is no one else.
Kyle: Yeah, it is pretty much us three.
BT: For this upcoming record, what kind of sounds can we expect to hear?
Larissa: [Assuming] everyone has heard the singles. They all have their own unique style but there is a frank similarity carried throughout. I feel like we explore a lot more aggression towards the middle-end section of the album. I think fans will be really excited to see how the singles fit into the record as a whole into the context of the record because it will just tie together.
Kyle: Each single speaks for themselves alone, but speak something different when put all together. The complete record is a brick shift house the whole way through, you get a small break in the middle, then it hits you again.
BT: Do either of you have a favorite song on the album so far?
Kyle: We probably have the same one.
Kyle: Yeah. It’s probably my favorite just because it hits every style of the record in one [track] and the instrumentals are crazy and the vocals are awesome.
Larissa: It’s definitely the climax before the resolution.
BT: So the record has 10 tracks, how did the two of you decipher which songs got to be on the album?
Kyle: We actually started with 15 songs from our old work and ended up only using four of them. By the time we got those four workshopped and re-recorded, we wrote six more.
BT: Do either of you have any musical influences that help with the creative process?
Kyle: We both grew up with different styles. I grew up more listening to Alice In Chains.
Larissa: Wait, I listened to Alice In Chains too.
Kyle: Then she went the heavy route. She was a Marilyn Manson, Tool girl. I was softer with my music.
BT: Who is Ted Jensen to you?
Larissa: So Ted Jensen is one of the most prolific master engineers in the world. We landed a major opportunity to have him master our album. He has worked with all of our inspirations like Alice In Chains, Marilyn Manson, Deftones, so it was kind of a big deal.
Kyle: We have a fun game where if there’s a rock album and it’s not Ted Jensen mastering it you have to take a drink.
Larissa: It’s such a fun drinking game! Like how much do you want to bet your favorite album is mastered by Ted Jensen. So the process really came full circle.
Kyle: Yeah he’s a great guy to work with. Really nice.
BT: Are you going to continue to work with him?
Larissa: Absolutely! For forever!
Kyle: A fun little fact is that Ted actually picked the song order of the album. We had a whole different lineup of all the songs on the album and he threw his input in.
Larissa: We walked in one morning and he said “So, I just kind of threw this new sequence together. Listen to it and let me know what you guys think.” He was really relaxed about it. He said we wouldn’t believe how we had seen the craziest arguments just over song order. Ted said, “If you don’t want to do this that’s totally fine,” but we said that we loved it.
BT: It seems like the three of you work well together. For the individuals who have not heard your music, how do you think you will be perceived by those same people?
Larissa: I guess we are definitely perceived the way we always intended, I guess that’s the point. I guess it’s up to interpretation. I mean I know the vision we try to portray but that may seem different to everyone else.
Kyle: I think when people hear a band starting out I don’t think they are prepared for it to sound as good quality as ours. We just always tried to shoot higher than lower. We aimed for top notch recordings. We would use like twelve different guitars for the record so it all combines to sound really professional.
Larissa: We are definitely perfectionists.
BT: Your song “Blind” made it to the Alternative Press. How did you two feel about that?
Larissa: It was really great to see one of our songs picked up. It kind of just fit. It fits everything that we’re trying to just do. I feel like it’s a natural progression.
Kyle: I loved it! I always listen to Alternative Press’ playlist anyways so I was like “We’re going to be on it? That’s tight.”
BT: Are you going to go on tour once your album drops?
Kyle: We were thinking about going on tour in the fall. We’re just working on the little kinks in it.
BT: How long were you looking at the tour to be?
Larissa: Probably a month or two.
BT: Are you going to be able to fit every show you want in that time frame?
Kyle: We’re just going to try and do a really packed tour in that month or two. Hopefully we can play every night. If we can’t, maybe it’ll be longer.
Larissa: For right now we haven’t made any announcements on it, but once we figure it out we’ll have more dates.
BT: Do either of you have any artists or producers in mind that you’d like to collaborate with in the near future? Any bands you’d like to open up for?
Larissa: I guess like any of our inspirations i’d love to work with.
Kyle: Yeah, i’d love to open up for Muse, Alice In Chains, or Marilyn Manson. His crowd has got to be really fun. Maybe a little crazy, but fun.
BT: Do you have any major goals you two would like to hit before 2017 is up?
Kyle: Honestly we’re hitting a lot of our goals faster than we thought we would. Alternative Press was one of our goals and we hit that already.
Larissa: Ted was one of our goals, too.
BT: You guys are on a roll.
Kyle: Yes, it’s been a crazy year so far. I guess getting the tour together is our next goal.
BT: Where do you two see yourself within the next 3-5 years?
Kyle: I hope to see us touring on the regular.
Larissa: Like international.
Kyle: And be on a label at that point, I assume.
BT: Is there a particular label you’d like to be on?
Kyle: We’ll leave that one hidden haha.
Larissa: Yeah labels, come find us.
BT: How long did it take to actually write the songs on the album?
Kyle: Some of them date back to 2012. But, we only used four of our own songs. The other we wrote in 8 days. So we wrote 6 songs and demo’d the record in 8 days.
BT: That’s impressive.
Kyle: And we tracked the record.
Larissa: Yeah, we didn’t sleep. We had a routine to run to the living room to watch the sun rise over the east river, grab a cup of coffee, and get back to work.
Kyle: Yeah, we did 8 17 hours days.
Larissa: Our mixing engineer pretty much lived with us.
BT: The two of you live together?
Kyle: Yes, we moved to New York together.
BT: Do you think you two are going to live here forever?
Larissa: We’re actually moving in a week and a half.
BT: No way!
Kyle: We are actually moving to Nashville. Our industry friends are going down to Nashville as well. There’s a huge rock scene in Nashville.
BT: I thought it was a country scene.
Kyle: Actually no, country is going to LA and other places. Rock and heavy metal taking over Nashville. All the rock guys are going through Nashville right now.
Larissa: In our apartment there are boxes everywhere!
BT: Well I wish you two the best of luck on your album and I hope your move is smooth.
Kyle: Oh and we have a music video coming out for Valkyrie.
BT: Awesome! Do you have any big plans for when you two take over Nashville?
Kyle: So the first thing we’re going to do in Nashville is play a show at the Exit/In. It’s a big rock venue. That’s where we want to kick off the tour. We’d like to headline there with all of the locals. We were thinking Nashville for home base because it’s easier to tour out of. In Nashville there will be more opportunity for a rock band like us instead of here in New York.
BT: What are some other cities you are keeping in mind to add to your tour list?
Larissa: As many as we can.
Kyle: I definitely want to hit New York again, Cleveland, Columbus, Seattle, and LA.
Larissa: And Texas.
Kyle: Yeah, taxes is a huge rock scene too. The guy that drummed on our record is actually from Texas and currently lives there. He is in a pop band and the rock scene there is crazy.
Larissa: Our next headline should be “Rock is not dead, FYI.”
BT: Do you two ever face any challenges when working together?
Larissa: No. The crazy part is is that we have this unspoken chemistry. We almost don’t really communicate in words at all. We usually start working on something and it turns into something else.
Kyle: I think that’s another reason why we avoid adding people to the group.
Larissa: I also don’t do well with communicating to others. I have a hard time when people don’t understand what I mean. It’s frustrating when they don’t get it at all. That’s a reason I can never be a teacher. I have no patience for it. But with Kyle I don’t have to communicate it. He can just look at my facial expression and know exactly what I mean.
BT: Pick one word to describe your chemistry.
Kyle: Hm, unique?
Larissa: That’s pretty cliche. How about loyal?
Kyle: Yeah that’s a good one.
BT: Loyal and telepathic.
Kyle: I feel like now you see these musicians that are in 8 bands because they can never commit to one. I feel like that’s what is lacking today. The originality is kind of gone.
BT: How do you feel about bands in today’s industry? For one, you don’t see a lot of bands, and if you do one outshines the other or they eventually break up.
Kyle: I think people think of a band as you get together, you write music, then boom you’re huge. Being in a band is just as much as being in a business. Just like owning a record store, restaurant, or bar, you have to kind of market yourself, inventory, planning, property rights, liability, budgets, and the recording process isn’t just sitting in the room. You have to get all of your instruments and your team together. I just don’t think people think bands put in a lot of work just because they don’t see what really goes on. Also, that’s why bands break up, because they don’t blow up within 4 or 5 months. It sometimes even takes band 4 or 5 albums until they get somewhere.
Larissa: Also it’s important to give credit where credit is due. A lot of people want to say they wrote an entire record by themselves, well clearly you didn’t. Your engineer helped and you have your collaborators.
Kyle: Also I can’t give our mixer enough credit. He really helped us out. He worked us through several mindsets throughout working together. Like he would help us get through it if we were getting frustrated when going on our 18th hour of the day. “It’s going to sound awesome. It doesn’t sound the same when it’s done as it does when it’s demoed.”
Larissa: Yeah, we was like our therapist. We would be nit-picky and not know if it was going to sound right and he would be like “Just chill! Seriously you’re fine.”
Kyle: Advice for bands today, don’t burn bridges.
Larissa: And listen to your mixer!
Kyle: And think of it as a business.
BT: Did you two always love music from young, or was it something that grew on you over the years?
Larissa: I was always into music at a young age. I was always singing, always playing guitar. I played cello throughout high school and college. I was always turned on by music.
Kyle: Yeah, I always enjoyed music too. I would always dance to rock music that would come on, but I never thought i’d be a musician, I kind of got into it really late. The way I got into it was my dad was listening to Matchbox 20 and one Christmas bought me a guitar. My family is a bunch of mechanics and plumbers so I am kind of the odd ball out.
BT: How supportive are your family members with your music career?
Larissa: We have our support system but anytime there is a shift in dynamic people will get a little weird.
Kyle: Some more advice would be not to worry about the people who try to put down your success.
BT: For the people who are not as supportive as others, do you think it’s believe they don’t believe in you or they do not understand the business?
Kyle: I think it’s a little bit of both. It can either be they don’t understand how we can actually make a living off of music and you don’t have to be at Ozzy Osbourne level before you do that. Or it’s just they don’t like to see the success you’ve made out of it because maybe they didn’t chase their dreams.
Larissa: They might compare themselves to us.
Kyle: It’s a shame they didn’t go for whatever they wanted to go for what they were younger.
Larissa: We are just so invested in our band. I actually don’t remember the last time I did something else outside of this band. Literally every time we do something it’s for the band.
BT: So no hobbies?
Larissa: Well we play video games together.
Kyle: I used to be a bartender, so on Saturday nights when we have friends over i try to make drinks like I used to.
BT: How do you think your new album is going to go once it’s released?
Kyle: I think it’s going to go really well. We’ve gotten a lot of great input on it and it’s always hitting, it’s on Alternative Press. Even the records that are not the lead hits are up there too.
Larissa: And for those who have heard some of the singles and are thinking there is no possible way we can have any more, we actually have a lot more in store. Trust me there is more content on there.
Kyle: Yeah, if you love the hit singles, you’ll love the record.
BT: Once your record is out in the world and your tour is underway, are you going to take a break from work or are you two going to keep going?
Kyle: So we haven’t actually take a break at all. We are already 4 or 5 songs into the next record.
Larissa: Yeah, we’re crazy.
Kyle: I think they’re turning out just as good as what we have now.
Larissa: We’re going to secretly record singles this summer and we keep joking that we’re going to accidentally complete a full-length record. So, we’ll see.
BT: 2018 – any goals that you want to hit on?
Larissa: You know, with us hitting every goal in 2017 I don’t even want to imagine how crazy 2018 is going to be.
Kyle: Five months ago I didn’t think i’d be here, so I can’t even imagine what a year from now will look like.
Larissa: Just as long as we keep heading in the same direction we’ll be fine.
BT: You two are moving at the speed of lightning!
Kyle: Yeah I don’t think it’s ever going to go down, I think it’s going to keep going up because we keep working at it.
BT: Well thank you for your time, congratulations on your success, and good luck with your move I hope Nashville treats you well. Anything else you’d like to add?
Kyle: I guess just have everyone follow us on social media. Thanks!
Instagram and Twitter: @BlackSatellite
Last modified: July 30, 2017