We connected with Hamilton, Ontario based artist David Mosco for an exclusive interview to discuss his band The Peaks and Valleys’ new EP “The Strange”. During our conversation we got a chance to pick David’s brain about his creative process when it came to the development of the EP’s four songs, how he deals with writer’s block, the music scene in Hamilton, and much more.
After reading our Q&A with David, be sure to stream and share The Peaks and Valleys’ new EP “The Strange”, and connect with the band on their social media.
Congratulations on the completion and release of your EP "The Strange". Describe your creative process for the development of these four songs.
Thank you! The EP was inspired by a period in my life over the last few years where I wasn’t sure what I was doing or where I was headed. So calling it ‘The Strange’ felt appropriate. I tried to structure it in a way that each song adds to a part of the story. Here’s some background info for each track:
Leave - The lyrics for this date back to 2012 and are virtually unchanged. The ending was the only new addition, and the vocoder was sort of a happy accident. The song has this hopeful feeling that you’re leaving something behind and going to be free from it, until things start hitting the wall.
Blood - About two years ago I was playing guitar in my living room, mulling over something and why it didn’t work out. This song materialized from that pretty quickly. While the first and second verses stem from two different experiences, the track is ultimately about the feeling of loss and trying to understand how everything came to an end.
Float - I wrote this in just a few hours. Originally, it was going to be a short instrumental track, but once lyrics start popping up it’s tough to keep them out. Float is about looking back on one particular night a few years ago. Something about it really meshed with me and I think the song speaks for itself.
Maps - Out of all four tracks, I probably spent the most time with this one. It started as a 40 second demo and somehow expanded into a full 5 minute song. It was one of those ideas where I kept saying to myself ”Ok this is cool, but should there be more?”. Even in its final form, it feels kind of ambiguous. But that’s what I like about it. Who knows where things will go next?
Can we expect a visual for one of the songs on the EP; if so, which one is pending?
I have considered it, but don’t have any concrete ideas at the moment. I could see there being some type of music video for Leave. In my head, I always pictured it as a guy burning down his house and then floating off into the ocean. But until I have a budget for that sort of thing, all four songs are on YouTube currently with a minimalistic visual based on the track artwork.
Tell us about the name "The Peaks and Valleys"; how did that moniker originate?
When I decided that I wanted to put out my own music, I wasn’t totally sure what it was going to sound like. Is it just going to be instrumental? Am I going to sing? Should it be happy or sad? These were all things I wanted to try. At the same time, I was having conversations with a few people discussing the high’s and low’s in life and it weighed on my mind for a while. Not everything is going to be great all the time, and not everything is going to be bad forever. The Peaks and Valleys is a name based off that idea. It serves as a hub for all the music I make, whether it sounds hopeful, bleak, or anything else in between. It’s not created with an audience in mind, it’s just a way for me to express myself creatively, and if a few people can dig it then that’s super cool.
What are some things that inspire your creativity as an artist, and how do you deal with writer's block?
Something I find myself connecting with more is music that keeps the human element in it. And what I mean by that is, not everything has to be pitch perfect or neatly quantized all the time. For example, the latest Lumineers track ‘Gloria’ right around 3/4 of the way through there are a couple notes on the piano that are off for a second and it’s great! It kind of makes you think “Oh yeah, a real person made this”. I find stuff like that kind of inspiring, and it makes me want to rely less on a computer. In a similar vein, I also think it’s cool when there are sounds in a song that aren’t immediately apparent. Sometimes when I’m listening to a track I really try to pick out all the different pieces, and once in a while I’ll hear a little part that I never noticed before. To me, Trent Reznor is the master at doing that kind of stuff. It really makes me think about my mixes and ways I can make them sound more interesting.
Writers block is tricky and I’m sure everyone deals with it in different ways. I find that you can’t force ideas because usually they end up sounding unnatural. If I’m really stuck on something, I’ll take a break from it for a few days or even a few weeks. You never really know when it’s going to hit you. It could be at work, in a store, or before bed. For that reason I like to utilize my phone. I probably have a hundred voice memos and notes of lyrics and music ideas that I’d like to try some day.
What's the music scene like in Hamilton, especially for your style of music? Are there a lot of venues to perform at and are locals generally supportive of the native talent there?
There is a great music scene in Hamilton. Quite a few bands over the last several years have made a big name for themselves, such as the Arkells or Monster Truck. I find that people here are proud of the music that comes out of this city. There are a lot of open mic opportunities downtown at cafes and pubs. I think it’d be cool to play some of these songs in an acoustic setting, so we’ll see how things pan out.
But in the meantime, I have another band called Upper Paradise that I’m starting with my friend Adam Inrig. He’s a super talented guy and it’s great collaborating with someone who brings different ideas to the table. The music is a little more accessible and upbeat, and so far we’re getting a good response from a few people in the community. So I’m really looking forward to exploring that and getting it off the ground later this year!