SESSIONS WITH H.E.R.

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I recently got to work and hang with one of my favorite artists, H.E.R. 
T-Minus and I recently discovered H.E.R.'s music earlier this year through a friend, immediately caught a vibe, and wanted to get in the studio to work with her, asap! God's timing is literally the best. T & I happened to meet one of H.E.R.'s writers, Hue ("Every Kind of Way", "Losing", "Wait For It", "Say It Again", "Still Down" & "I Won't"). He's pretty much the greatest legend of all time. T met Hue first at Bryson Tiller's house during a hang/video shoot. After that meet, T invited Hue to a studio where I would meet him. We all hit it off pretty quick and became bros in a short amount of time (gang, gang). Sometimes God just lines up the right people for you at the right time for the right reasons. It was more than just music or networking, Hue is just all around good people to have in your corner.
Fast forward to the SET IT OFF TOUR, H.E.R is opening up for Bryson Tiller in Toronto & you know I'm catching a flight to catch the show with my broski T & friends. 
H.E.R. is one of the most gifted artist & musicians I've encountered in a long time. A true performer & artist in every form. We briefly got meet her backstage in the green room. Big hair, white shades, dressed in comfy OVO gear, fresh off taking a polaroid with Daniel Caesar... we introduce ourselves... "Great show, love your music. We gotta link, would love to work with you." She was really sweet. I'll have to share other moments that took place backstage in a another story cause it was a special night! 
But anyways, Hue was already putting in the word with HER & trying to set something up with us all. A few convos later amongst others & the session dates were set! 
It was a great couple of days filled with good people, laughs, tacos, & to top it all off, we made some great music. Very thankful for T for bringing me along & let me be part of his sessions, as always. Highlight during the 2 days was sitting next to H.E.R. by the piano as she doodled & sang part of "Focus" (Heart eyes emoji). Hopefully this will be the first of many good hangs with these great people! 
Check out some photos from the sessions below. 

Photography by Elizabeth A Miranda
October 8th & 9th

Listen to H.E.R.
SPOTIFY
APPLE MUSIC 

Check out H.E.R's official video for "EVERY KIND OF WAY" 
(co-written by my bro, HUE) 

"FOOL FOR YOU"

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Written By SNOH AALEGRA & MARCUS SEMAJ
Produced by J.Valle


Who's Marcus Semaj?
Marcus is a gifted writer, talented artist, & everyone's favorite friend. His tone is special & his writing is undeniable. I met Marcus at ZOE church, a community we both call home here in Los Angeles. It must've been fate that aligned us to connect at this particular moment because i was jamming to a Kanye West tune as Marcus was entering the building during worship rehearsal. Kanye is one of Marcus' favorite artists & both hail from the city of Chicago. After hearing Marcus' voice, I knew he was special. His tone & talent is too great to not be heard or known. I wanted to build with him and help in anyway I could. "Marcus, Let's link. Send me some stuff you've written on." Marcus sends me vocal demos he's recorded over random beats online that have those annoying tags looping every 3 seconds...
"O-M-G BEATS DOT COM *bomb drop* *explosion*" etc. 
But in the midst of the distracting beat tags, his ideas & vibe stood out so much and always made an impression. I'm think to myself: "I gotta connect him with a few producers I know in the biz and have him write over quality beats/production." 

How does this relate to Snoh's "FOOL FOR YOU"? 
...It'll all connect, bare with me.  

In November 2016, I started assisting for producer Wayne Miller at Selma Studios in Los Angeles. This is around the same time Marcus & I started connecting. I'd work with Wayne in the mornings & use the studio to myself in the evenings. I've always been known as a guitarist throughout my career but learning with Wayne side by side & meeting other great talents really encouraged me to pick up producing. Also being in various sessions throughout the years, I'd learn something different from each of the producers I've worked with. Marcus and I built a strong foundation during these times late 2016 going into 2017. We spent late hours into the AM at Selma recording ideas, perfecting our craft, talking music & vision. 
It's February 2017 & my good friend/producer T-Minus is back in LA. It's been a few years since we last connected. I took a few years off the industry and wasn't really active in session work or connecting with anyone really. I was getting back into the swing of things by now so meeting with Minus again was perfect timing & we picked up right where we left off. I know I had to tell him about Marcus...
"T, you gotta meet my friend Marcus. He sings, He writes. He's dope!" "Bring him through" he replies. That's the cool thing about T, he's open to meeting and collaborating with just about anyone. There's no ego & he isn't stingy with his knowledge. So Marcus comes through and they hit it off. We track some new ideas down, have life convo's, & had some fun sessions. A few months later, the three of us linked again at a studio in Santa Monica. This is when Marcus & I are introduced to Snoh.

Marcus recalls:  

"I met Snoh in a session with J.Valle and T-minus.
We were vibing to some tracks T was playing. Snoh & I just clicked creatively and on our melodic choices etc. Snoh has the best energy, she's the first signed artist who was like 'yo, you're dope. I want you on my album.' We kept in contact after that and set up another session at United (recording studio in Hollywood). We went in and vibed out to some NO. ID tracks and just got a feel for each other. About month or so later, Snoh and I connected with J (at Selma Studios) and did 3 sessions (the 3rd one I couldn't make) but the 2nd session was when we wrote 'Fool For You'. It's always fun working with Snoh. 
I'm super grateful for the opportunity!"

The first session at Selma wasn't necessarily a success. We did one idea but it didn't really fit a vibe. One night, I was at Selma alone and was getting ready to pack up and leave for the night but I still had my guitar plugged in & heard an progression in my head. I started jamming over it & hit record. The exact chords i recorded that night are the same chords/recording you hear over "FOOL FOR YOU". You know you have a good loop going when you could hear it over and over again. I knew it was special. I quickly made a very minimal beat to it, added a percussion loop, a synth lead, bass, and that's it. That was my demo. I was feeling bold that night & I text the idea to Snoh. "Dope, i love it!" She replied. I really didn't add much to the production after that demo. It left so much space for Snoh & Marcus to do their thing. We set up a session with Marcus again & they wrote the song. Marcus couldn't make the last session but he wrote part of the 2nd verse while he was at Disneyland with his family & text us his lyrics, lol. We all have great chemistry in the studio & as just people so the song just came together very naturally. Snoh sent our demo to her manager for the thumbs up or down & mentioned how much she loved the song. I was like "Really?". I couldn't believe my vibe was being considered for being part of Snoh's project. Marcus and I would get so hype talking about how dope it was to potentially get a placement with Snoh, and our first solo placements  together in general too. Him writing & my production. Snoh would fill us in on updates with the song throughout the months: "It may make my project!" "Everyone loves it!" "It WILL make the project!" "It's going to be the single!" Mean while i'm still trying to comprehend the fact that we all even did a song together. Or the fact that Marcus wrote it.

What better way to share my first production placement with my bro Marcus' first writing placement. Extremely grateful for my bro T-Minus for connecting us & being such a huge support system & friend. Can't thank Snoh enough for being cool & allowing Marcus and I to be part of her musical journey. 
Very Thankful! (prayer hands emoji).

"First of many"

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Check out Snoh Aalegra's "FOOL FOR YOU" on: 
SPOTIFY
APPLE MUSIC 
iTUNES

TORONTO/OVOFEST

It's Friday, August 4th, 2017. I get a call from my bro Tyler, (T-Minus). "What's up bro? What are you up to?" The usual call where the convo consists of life updates, laughs, music, and more laughs. He mentions just before we hang up, "BTW, i got extra tickets to OVO on Monday, let me know if you wanna come. You're welcome to stay as long as you'd like." I met Tyler through Twitter back in 2011. The power of social media. I tweeted him, "Hey man, I play guitar, here's a remix I did over one of your beats. Please notice me." He replied & we exchanged info. Thrilled he responded to me, I remember 2 thoughts after reading his response.
1. "Maybe we'll work together & I'll record guitars on his beats!" 
2. "Maybe he'll invite me to OVOFEST & we'll be VIP & I'll see drake perform his songs next him & we'll go backstage & meet Drake & we'll all be best friends!!!" 
LOL, don't judge. I was excited. Drake's been one of my favorite artists ever since I heard "Say What's Real" on MySpace. A bit of background, T-Minus is a legendary producer from Toronto and has made several hits with Drake. Songs like "The Motto", "I'm On One", & "HYFR". So working with him was a dream come true for me & continues to be.
 I remember buying last minute Drake tickets on Craigslist in 2010. I showed up to the venue with Jenny only to find out they were fake tickets! Spent $250 on them! We really thought we were seeing Drake that night.
Back to Friday night, 2017. I hang up. I start searching for flights to Toronto. "I'm staying for a month T." "lol, sure" "Kidding". I was playing for my Church's conference (ZOE) that weekend. The earliest flight i could find after conference was @ midnight (Monday), the day of OVOFEST. Conference ends, I pack up my stuff, & head to the airport. It'd been a good 3 years since i was last in Toronto. March 2014. The cold winter weather in that city had me shook, (pun intended). Some stand outs of that trip was feeling the love and embrace from his whole fam, eating the best cereal & food in the world, and of course making music with T. I was excited to experience all those things again during this trip. It's 10AM in Toronto now & my flight lands. I head straight to the Williams residence, nap for 3 hours, wake up & off to OVO we go. I couldn't be more pumped to hang with my bro & watch Drake perform in his city. "Here, wear this", T says. I'm handed VIP Family passes. I'm thinking, "Wow, this is really happening right now. I'm gonna watch drake perform on T-Minus' music while standing next to T-minus. Then we're going backstage. Then I'm meeting Drake. Then we're all going to be best friends and get an apartment together. THE END," right? 
Not exactly. 
The lights go off. The crowd roars. The curtains fall. The crowd roars louder. The CN tower set lights up & The Boy is sitting at the edge of it just like the 'VIEWS' album cover. The crowd roars louder. "FREE SMOKE, FREE SMOKE, AYE"... The energy in that place was unreal! I actually lost our crew due to the huge stampede of people flocking to the VIP area. I literally can't move for the first 3 songs. I finally make my way to the crew. "SACRIFICES" starts playing. Wow, this is really happening right now. "BLEM". Wow, I'm really next to my boy right now. It was so cool to hype him up while his tune was being performed by Drake. A close friend at that. Nothing like cheering and celebrating your friends successes! The show ends & we start making our way back to the car. It was a night to remember. An AMAZING show. "Wait" Tyler says. "I wanna go back & say what's up to the guys." So back we go. But private security won't let us in. Event security won't let us in either. They're not letting anyone back in the venue. We come across a superior security to escort us through private security. Gate #2, they're not letting anyone in again but OB happens to be at the gate at the same time as us. "Them 2 as well, they're with me" OB says. (shout out OB). Gate #3, the last one. They're really not letting anyone here at this one. "The lounge is full" Security says despite Tyler ultimate access VIP pass. The greenrooms & lounge area is just through those doors over there. We casually hang around the area & chat with friends. Mainly all Tyler's friends. Finally, T comes across someone he knows & he let's us in. Persistence is key. We make our way into the greenroom/lounge and as soon as the door opens, i see Noah '40' Shebib. "40, this is Josh..." "Pleasure to meet you bro". We move through the area. The hallways in this place was LIT. Lights, music, people dancing, photos being taken. I lose Tyler for a minute and get stuck behind a Swae Lee & crew selfie, Moving through the narrow hallways, I catch up to T. He introduces me to Noel, Drake's engineer. T asks him "Is The Boy here? I wanna say what up". Noel answers "Yeah, he's in that room right here... go in." The door opens as a small group of people make their exit. We go in. I'm walking in behind Tyler. The room is quiet. The lights are dimmed medium-low. No music. ESPN is on the tv but on mute. Drake's there, sitting on this brown leather chair. Huge smile on his face as he gets up to greet Tyler. "Is that T? T Willy!". Huge hug, huge smiles on both faces.
Tyler then looks over at me & introduces me to Drake...
"This is my boy, Josh..."


Below are a few photos from OVOFEST & moments during my stay in Toronto.
(all photos were taken & edited by me using my iPhone 7+)

 

 

PLAQUES 

Received a few plaques today from some accomplishments I've done dating back to 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... 

Shout out to SOUNDZ, SOUNWAVE, & T-MINUS for allowing me to be part of these records. 

Shout out to SOUNDZ, SOUNWAVE, & T-MINUS for allowing me to be part of these records. 

 

JUSTIN BIEIBER
"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. 

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KENDRICK LAMAR
"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. 

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SIA
"Footprints"

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... 
SO THANKFUL! 

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