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A Dirty Dozen with WILHELMUS SAPANARO of VALENCE – March 2019

| 31 March 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “New York-based progressive metal fusion quartet VALENCE recently announced the release of their upcoming album, Cognitive Dissidents, out April 12, 2019. Expertly fusing genres like metal, rock, jam, classical, jazz, and more, VALENCE’s varied yet cohesive influences offer every listener a passport to a new state of mind that is cerebral and emotive, while not sacrificing accessibility.” We get bassist Wilhelmus to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

This is my first full-length release with Valence. I kind of entered about mid-way through the writing process, but I definitely feel 100% a part of this album. Mike, Geoff, and Chris are amazing musicians and a pleasure to work with. There were definitely some liberties I took as a player to make these songs (in my opinion) better as well as add my own spin on some of the parts. Throughout this album there are many reoccurring themes and melodies that occur. If you really want a hidden nugget for all you music nerds, there is one part in one of the pieces where I play a quartertone. It’s not obvious, but it works really nicely. If you’re the first to find it and email us, I’ll personally send a freshly printed dollar bill to the address of your choice. There are also some hidden gems in the album artwork. If you’re a diehard Valence fan, you’ll get it.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

It seemed that music was just a logical next step growing up. My older cousin played guitar, which sparked my brother’s interest in the guitar as well. I originally had the inkling to play drums, but that was not viable, so my brother suggested that I play the bass. He took two strings off one of my dad’s old guitars and started teaching me some basics like using my fingers to pluck the strings as well as the bass line to “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” by Pink Floyd. It was something that I just felt came naturally to me and I had a big interest in. Once I realized that I could play one song, I just wanted to learn another one. So that escalated into a lot of time learning techniques, songs, and music theory.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Well, my brother was a huge influence on me. By the time I was really getting conscious of music, he was already graduated towards the cool guitarist’s guitarists like Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Steve Vai, and John McLaughlin (big thanks to my cousin). We definitely watched G3: Live in Concert a lot. Also Stu Hamm played with a lot of those guys, so when I was learning what it was to play bass, I’d see him do two-hand tapping, slaping, and chords on the bass and totally think that was what normal bass players did. Haha.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Throughout the years it’s always changing, it almost depends on the time of day.  However, I find myself always coming back to Stu Hamm, David Fiuczynski, Joe Satriani, Max Martin, and Frank Zappa.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Probably Mike Patton. He’s one of the most diverse artists I can think of working in the industry today. His unique approach to music and musical projects are always pushing envelopes and coming up with things that I haven’t heard before. I feel something truly unique would come out of that. If you happen to know him and could slip him my number, it would be much appreciated.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Valence is a coming together of a lot of influences. To me, it sounds like modern chamber music composed for a rock band. It’s the kind of music that you can both totally rock out to, but also has a depth and a subtle nuance that is there. It’s like a good wine. You can taste all the different notes of fruit and chocolate, but it’s also going to get you drunk; it’s up to you to decide which one you’re here for.

7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

When we’re hanging out it’s always a good time. It’s usually Mike or Geoff that are cooking. We all have interesting tastes in beer and usually all bring something to the table… it’s actually a lot like our music. We all bring something to share and form opinions on and talk about. I think the closest thing to cranking “out the acoustic guitars for a singalong” would be my slight obsession with 90’s and 00’s pop music. Whenever I get a hold of the stereo I’ll be the first to put on anything from the Backstreet Boys to Alien Ant Farm to Taylor Swift amongst things like Haken, Planet X, and Mahavishnu Orchestra.

8. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

I do recall being in slight awe when I met Dweezil Zappa. I’m such a huge fan of his father as well as everything he’s done artistically and to preserve Frank’s legacy. I was fortunate to help out with some demos he did a few years ago for Maxon pedals. He had such a cool nonchalance about him that it really helped me center myself and realize that he was just a guy doing his thing, even though his thing blows my mind.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I really got into music because of all the things I heard in my head. To me, nothing is better than writing out a piece of music or having an idea for a song and hearing other people play it with you. I can also bring an idea into the rehearsal room and flesh it out with musicians that I love and are totally on board to make it a great piece of music. I feel really fortunate to be able to do that with Mike, Geoff, and Chris. If I couldn’t do music I’d probably be in a dark place. Music has helped me through a lot of things. If I couldn’t do music, I’d most likely be doing some other form of art, like writing or comic book art.

10.  What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’m not sure. I enjoy taking interviews as they come and not trying to anticipate questions. However, one of my favorite questions I’ve ever been asked is “What was the last thing you listened to.” To which the answer is the album The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets, by the band Marmozets. I first heard the single “Particle” on 89.5 WSOU to which I immediately thought to myself “I need this in my life.” I actually forgot about this album until yesterday and am a bit disappointed I haven’t been listening to it more. It’s truly amazing. I don’t think I’ve really done enough interviews to be tired of answering any particular questions.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

As far as I can figure, I can only experience time linearly. I try not to dwell on the past and sometimes will only look forward (almost to a fault). I’m more in the mindset of here I am, now how can I move forward from here. I’m currently trying to keep up my meditation practice and be more present in the current moment.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I remember watching a documentary on the making of Queen’s A Night at the Opera and that blew my mind to see how they got all these weird sounds and effects with just a few microphones and their instruments. There were no plug-ins or digital anything. The way that album is constructed and orchestrated still blows my mind when I listen to it and just think that a bunch of people did a bunch of weird things that came together to create a masterpiece that to this day stands on it’s own.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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