Received a few plaques today from some accomplishments I've done since 2012. I'm very thankful for the producers & artists who have given me a place in their music. I'll forever be grateful. I can't wait to hang these in at my Mom's house. Here are a few brief stories of how each song came about...
"Out Of Town Girl"
I had just finished playing basketball at the park. I get into my car and see a text from producer, SOUNDZ: "Yo J. Come to Hollywood. You got a nylon Spanish acoustic guitar? I need it for JB."
"Yeah! What's the address?..." I actually didn't own a nylon acoustic guitar. I immediately went to the local guitar center 10 minutes before they closed. With only $160 in my bank account, i found the cheapest nylon guitar i could find. The employee rings me up, "That'll be $150 sir". "Dammit, i only have $10 till who knows how long... oh well." i thought. I end up running into an ex-girlfriend at the register. "Oh, Hey _____"... "Hey Josh". *Awkward silence*, "K bye...", I leave.
I cruise down to Chalice Recording studios in Hollywood. Enter the session. People everywhere, I say what up to SOUNDZ & meet Tricky Stewart & lots of other dudes. We talk sports, Derrick Rose had just got injured again. Finally it's my time to record in the booth. Everyone leaves except Soundz. The track is pretty much done with reference vocals. There's a space in the bridge where he hears a guitar solo. He hits record. And i black out. Not really but it felt like a dream. They always do. All the special moments, sessions, conversations, etc. A few days later, Soundz texts me saying he's sending it to Bieb's & hopefully he'll dig it. Months later, I was on the drive home from San Diego with Jenny. The BELIEVE album released that night & i only bought the song i was on cause that's all i could afford at the time. We both listened to the song all the way through. The feeling i had while listening to my guitars being played on a song that thousands of other people are listening to in this exact moment...man. I can't describe it.
"Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe"
I remember seeing Kendrick at a show in Santa Ana back in October 2011. It was the worst opening line up of all time. Jenny & i got there early for front row views, a little too early. I swear there was about 9 openers before Dot hit the stage. Jenny was sick. My legs hurt. Poor me. Finally Kendrick comes on, red hoodie. TDE banner in front of ALI's booth. It was one of the best shows i've been to to-date. He informs the crowd that he'll be doing a meet & greet in the back. Jenny and i rush over there. I see him. "Yo Kendrick, Big fan of Section 80 & the EP's." He says thanks, signs my $5 bill. We snap a picture. "I play guitar man, if you ever need any recordings or live stuff i got you" He smiles and nods his head and keeps moving along. He's in autograph mode, it's all good. I go all the way around into the area where he's heading. Signing away. He approaches me again. "Yo man, i play guitar, i can play on records if you guys ever need any guitar work." He stops & calls Dave, his manager over. "Aye, Dave. Get this man's info." Dave with 3 phones in his hands. "Aye whats up bro give me your phone I'm gonna lock yo in." He gives me his phone number, email address, house address, phone number 2, social security num....kidding. Not all that, but he gave me every info i need to get a hold of him. "Thank you man i appreciate ill call you!" Jenny and i leave looking at each other with the "Something Big Just Happened" face. I wait a few days before texting/emailing (cause you don't want to look too desperate). 3 months go by, no reply. I'm discouraged. Why aren't they replying. Turns out, i had been adding an extra letter in the email address. SMH. Please triple check your emails folks. I adjust my mistake and hit send. Dave responds right away. "SOUNWAVE wants to work." months go by again... I remember waking up one morning like"Why hasn't sounwave hit me yet?" He literally hits me up later that evening. "Come to Carson"...
I was literally about to cuddle with Jenny. "Sorry babe, i gotta go." "GO GO GO!" she said. I pull up to the neighborhood. Walk through the back gate & open the door. The instrumental to "Dont Kill My Vibe" was looping in the background & atmosphere in that room was unreal. Such a VIBE. Anna Wise is passed out on the cough to my left. Kendrick is on his blackberry writing lyrics. Ali is on the counsel. "Everybody, this is J.Valle..." "What's up bro, I'm Kendrick." "Ali." Anna pulls her hoodie off, "I'm Anna". I find my place in the room, sit down, & just wait to be called. I remember everyone talking about the New Year. This was Jan 2012 & they were debating calling the song "New Years Resolution". I witnessed Kendrick write his verses & the hook. It was surreal, a total dream. I black out. Next thing i know he goes to the booth & hops on the mic. Ali checks the levels & hits record. "Check, Check... J, J Val.. J.Valle... What's his name again? Alright.... I am a sinner who's probably gonna sin again. Lord forgive me...". I black out again. Next thing i remember, everyone leaves to the store, "Want anything J?" "Yeah, a orange vitamin water please". Ali stays behind. "Alright you plugged in? I'm let you freestyle & vibe to the track." So he hits record & loops the track for about 20 minutes straight. I do random licks and riffs. The track ends. Everybody arrives. While still being plugged in, I scratch my guitar with my pick and do some shudder rhythm sounds. They all loved it. I was just messing around. It's kinda a thing i do anyways. You could hear it in the beginning of the tune. The night & session ends, I say goodbye to everyone, they all show me love & say thanks for coming. One by one everyone exits the room. I'm the last one in the room, Kendrick is walking behind me. I'm waiting for him to leave so i could shut the door. I'm outside now & he could tell i'm waiting to shut the gate. He says "Nah homie, you already know, this is where i stay. Peace." He turns off the lights, stays in the studio, & shuts the door. Meanwhile, i'm walking to my car with the "Something incredible just happened right now and i'm still processing it" face...
October 2012, the album drops. This time i could actually afford an album, so i buy it. I rip the packaging off. See my name on the credits, "Guitars By J.Valle". Wow, What a feeling. What makes it that much more special is that the album released almost exactly a year from that show i went to in Santa Ana with Jenny. Standing for all those hours, approaching him twice at the meet & greet, re-sending those emails & not letting discouragement sink in... it was all worth it.
Anything is Possible.
It's 2012 & I'm crashing at my sisters house. Totally invading my 7 year old nephew's room & space. Using his little desk as my studio setup. I had recently become aquatinted with T-Minus aka the GOAT through twitter. I had sent him a guitar cover video of a song he did, "Hey man, check out this guitar remix i did over your song, i'd love to work with you." He responded & gave me all his info, "Let's work" I remember that day, it was October 12, 2011. It was my mom's bday & we were at a Red Lobster. "Mom, T-Minus just messaged me on Twitter!" "Who?"..
Anyways, T & I would be in contact throughout the next few months. We'd chat about life, the biz, goals, music, anything really. But I'll never forget one of the first things I learned from him. "Yo, T, Can't believe I'm chatting with you bro, you're a legend, you did this song and that song thats insane." "Thank you bro, but don't think like that. At the end of the day, we all breathe the same air." WOW. What a guy.
He invited me to a few sessions whenever he was in LA. I met Usher at one of his sessions where we ended up writing the next Bieber tune i was a part of, "Heartbreaker". But that's a different story.. T's always asking me to send in loops, ideas, starters, etc. I'm back in my nephew's room building ideas, getting ready for the Skype call, where he's going to listen to my ideas in real time.
Listening to them right in front of me via video chat, I'm pretty excited & looking forward to his approval on some of them. "No. Nah. Not feeling it. Nope.." he says. "Eh. That one's ok..." I'm all out of ideas at this point. "Send me some more idea later. Just keep going at it, I know you could do better." And the call ends.
I'm frustrated & discouraged. I start doubting my whole existence & purpose in music. "Damn, maybe I'm not good enough." I was literally about to call it a day and try again tomorrow. But something pushed me to try again. I'm not going to wait another week, day, or hour. I'm motivated to get him something new ASAP! I come across a reverse delay effect & start doodling around it. I struck a particular chord voicing & immediately hear a progression in my head. I play it to myself, find a tempo for it, hit record, & send it to T.
He quickly messages me back:
"THIS IS A HIT!"
T completely brought that song to life with that beat, that vibe, & shout out Nikhil for the vibes he added as well. The song landed into SIA's hands as she was writing for Beyonce.
"I feel connected to a song called "Footprints." That was a Beyoncé reject that I wrote in the Hamptons a couple years ago." SIA says via ROLLING STONE
Such an amazing feeling knowing that my little guitar loop that i made in my little nephews room after carrying those emotions of rejection but pushed to be great ended up in SIA's hands (Almost Beyonce but I'll take SIA) & ended up being on a platinum album with my name as a producer beside TMinus. WOW. I don't think these things will ever hit me...