Joey Valence & Brae: “We didn’t choose what type of music we were going to make, basically, it just happened”

JOEY VALENCE & BRAE are chaos in musical form, and they’ve just unleashed their debut project.

Words: Finlay Holden.
Photo: Connor Phillips.

With their debut LP ‘PUNK TACTICS’ out today, Joey Valence & Brae have finally shared their first extended collection; a 14-track mashup of influences that fluently expresses the fun-loving simplicity of the college friends’ musical pursuits to date. A formidable collection anticipated by a rapidly-growing global fan base, it may seem like these guys have flown straight to the top – but they were on the cusp of giving it all up.

Having just graduated from Penn State, JVB were living at home and unsure of their futures. With a corporate lifestyle on the cards, Valence asked his parents for 6 months to chase his dream before forcing himself to take life seriously and utilise his Telecommunications degree. Fortunately, things started to gain traction pretty quickly with a flurry of early singles before ‘Double Jump’ struck gold with instant TikTok virality, only enhanced by a constant state of hyperactivity.

Checking in with Dork backstage at a rainy Reading festival (“that was just God squirting all over us”), Valence admits that he still lives in a state of disbelief at their fortunes. “We weren’t expecting anything to come out of any of the stuff that we’ve done, so just the fact that people have got attached and have been along for the ride means the world,” he shares. “Our fan base is a super dedicated group of people who want to see us win. They know we’re just two kids making music in a bedroom, everything is so authentic about it. We’re just two idiots. People can relate to that.”

A rowdy UK tour concluding at Reading & Leeds 2023 proves the truth of that statement, with people showing up in droves to mosh to just about anything that comes out of the speaker. “It’s nuts out here,” Joey admits. “People just so much more turnt. They’re excited about music and that’s just true across Europe and the UK in general. People here genuinely care about music and are more centred around music in their lives in general. They always wanna have a dance, have a party.”

That’s not to diss their American fans, of course, with the pair finding fans in the most unlikely of places – “We met Jack Black, and that was pretty crazy,” Brae flexes. Maryland rapper Logic has also given these boys his approval while putting his own spin on last year’s ‘TANAKA’, remixing the track and sharing his own verse. “That was our first collaboration EVER so yeah, we’re pretty lucky,” Valence acknowledges.

When you first hear a Joey Valence & Brae track, the obvious sonic reference point is NYC’s own Beastie Boys and Brae shares that this similarity is unavoidable considering their musical upbringing: “It’s just what our ears grew up on. For me specifically, there was a lot of old-school hip hop playing in my house because of my dad, so that’s kind of what I gravitated towards when I started actually making music. Hip hop and rap, that’s kind of the sound we fell into.”

“We didn’t choose what type of music we were going to make, basically, it just happened,” Valence adds, “and then we were like, oh, this is fun, let’s just roll with it. It is what it is. We took everything that we love and put it straight into the music. Our music is nothing more than just us making shit that we like.”

Going on to admit that his 10-year-old self was an EDM cultist worshipping at the altar of our lord and saviour Skrillex, Joey shares a love for various genres that might contrast expectations, but that just makes their music accessible to a diverse range of music fans: “It’s cool to see all these different cultures loving what we do,” he states. “We really make whatever we want in the moment; we literally have a house track we made that’s unreleased right now,” Brae chips in. “We like so many genres of music, JVB is pretty much genreless at this point.”

Beyond their sound, the Valence & Brae discography is littered with references that span decades of popular culture; from Star Wars and Finding Nemo to Mortal Kombat and Power Rangers, a huge amount of the musicians’ interests are expressed through witty, rapid-fire lyrics. Album track ‘DELINQUENT’ is perhaps the most potent example of this, offering memes galore – but how will this age?

For us, it’s only ever about making music that we like right now,” Brae answers. “It’s one thing to want to create timeless music – everybody wants to do that, and we do too – and another to be like ‘oh, that was funny, put it in there’. It’s just who we are. There are gonna be references that people don’t get even today. We’re only two years into this project so really, we’re little babies still figuring it all out.”

“I don’t have a plan with anything I do, I just go and do it, so yeah,” Valence agrees, confirming that the uncontrollable persona they deliver online is far from a façade. “That’s basically what the music is too, so completely spontaneous. We’re just living life how it is. What you get is just what you get. We’re just insane pretty much all the time.”

When indulging themselves with these well-known samples, JVB have found some creative ways to dodge copyright, adding to the DIY element of their music and involving fans in the process too, as Joey elaborates: “A really good example of that is the John Cleese from Monty Python sample: ‘and now for something completely different.’ I was like, hey, anyone in the UK hit me up and just say this line. I got a bunch of voice notes from people on Instagram and I chose the best one which then went into the song.” Shout out to the Instagram voice note featured in ‘DROP!!’.

As you can probably tell, there are few parts of themselves that Joey Valence & Brae don’t place directly into the music, and a listen through their debut album will immediately give you a pretty accurate insight into their lives and personalities. Do they guys have any interests that aren’t pumped right into your eardrums? Colouring books, puzzles and any form of dessert seems to be the three that the pair can settle on. “I like pooping too but I try not to talk about that one,” Valence throws in, “but actually I do talk about that quite a lot.”

In terms of what they want their fans to gain from the ‘PUNK TACTICS’ LP release, an emphasis is placed on embracing your inner chaos. “We just want kids to be delinquents again, like the little rascals we are,” Joey smiles. “They better go out and just punch somebody. Or just grab your friends and have the best time of your life. That’s literally all that we’re about.” 

“It is Joey Valence & Brae’s debut collection of songs all packaged together in our first album ever, so it’s just 100% of our personality and what we like contained in an album,” Brae declares – “if people have even remotely the same interests, they’re gonna enjoy it.”

Where this next era will take them seems impossible to predict, but they have the ambition to leap over any hurdles that might be thrown their way, as Joey’s optimistic conclusion shows: “We’re in a little bit of a race with that Olivia Rodrigo releasing an album the same day… I think we might come out on top, you know?” ■

Taken from the October 2023 edition of Dork. Joey Valence & Brae’s debut album ‘PUNK TACTICS’ is out now.


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