In 2008, Toronto-based indie-pop singer Valery Gore released Avalanche to Wandering Bear, a jazz-infused follow up to her 2005 self-titled debut. Its enigmatic lyrics and Gore’s arresting, slightly Feist-ian voice deepened the classically trained pianist’s idiosyncratic sound.
In the time since ATWB, Gore toured Canada with her band, did shows in Australia, China, L.A., and Canadian festival dates with Buck 65, fell in love with Germany’s music culture during a two-month stay in Berlin, and allowed what would become her third album, Idols in the Dark Heart, to percolate.
“I had written a handful of songs around 2010 that changed quite drastically before we went into the studio in 2012,” Gore says from her home in Toronto. Meanwhile, she learned more about home recording, which “broadened her scope” and her approach to songwriting. “It led me away from starting every song at the piano,” she says. “I wanted to focus more on percussive ideas and bass parts first.” Gore also shifted from the soul and Motown that informed ATWB, describing her latest as somewhere between “acoustic instrumentation and electronic influence.”
Devon Henderson, her longtime bass player, co-producer, and “musical soul mate,” and engineer Dean Nelson (Beck, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jamie Lidell), provided creative input, helping to shape rough demos. Gradually, the trio formed a clear idea of what they wanted to do in the studio. The result is a deeply personal oeuvre on relationships; its abstruse title was inspired by a line in poet Anne Carson’s book, Decreation.
“This album has a lot to do with struggles in my relationships with others,” Gore shares. “I’ve always had a hard time letting go of relationships, wondering what I could have done differently. I think these are like surrender songs—me admitting to myself that they’ve dissolved; people who took up a lot of room in my life and heart. The light finally goes out on it and it’s time to focus on more positive relationships in life. So the title seemed fitting.”
The first single, “Hummingbird in Reverse,” was released last spring. Its lush video, set in Norway, was shot and edited by Sebastian Fischbeck (that’s his girlfriend in the video, not Gore). “I cried when I first saw it,” Gore says. Hearing the track on German radio stations was also memorable. “It was pretty wild hearing my song being played on foreign FM radio.”
Now, Gore, driven by the “challenge and excitement” of never making the same song twice, is prepping to release the record that she says will “break me or make me expand.” If all goes well, Idols In the Dark Heart, which has yet to find a label, will be released this summer.
“I really am focused on growing in Europe and the UK,” she says. “I hope it opens some new doors internationally, gets some nice radio play, is a good tool to tour my face off, and a good build up to the next record.”