When I first discovered Natalie Meadors’ strong soulful voice, she was front-woman of Mojo Stone. I came across the track “Honey” and I’ve never felt more satisfied once the song ended. The band was Meadors’ college project, heavily influenced by American Blues. Since then, the band members have graduated from their student statuses and their sound has evolved into what is now Los Angeles’ Valley Queen. Today, Valley Queen is a magical hybrid of southern rock and Motown inspiration. Meadors’ voice is captivating as she pulls you in with raw passion tracing every word. As a lover of music and all things a little different, I couldn’t help but fully uncover Valley Queen’s mesmerizing groove to include in the RPM Discoveries repertoire. You are sure to enjoy!
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Natalie Meadors (vocals, rhythm guitar) grew up along the rolling hills of Arkansas never imagining she would actually pursue a career in music. Singing has always been something that came natural to Meadors, but she thought a future with music was just a childhood daydream. As a little girl, she was constantly daydreaming about singing to crowds, but it wasn’t until Meadors went to college, started a band and felt the true power of a present audience that made her believe in her dream enough to make it her reality.
“To feel the rush of having an audience that was actually present and truly listening to what was happening, that is the best feeling. It’s hard to not want that over and over again. Music is hard, it’s not set in stone that I’m going to be successful or continue to grow. We’re working at it, but that is the best feeling when you feel like you have a present audience, so when that started happening I wanted to experience it more and more,” shares Meadors.
When Meadors moved to L.A. for college she fell in love with rock ‘n’ roll. “I had a love affair with listening to it, but not necessarily playing it,” said Meadors. During that first year, Meadors was struggling to find like-minded people. As fate would have it, Meadors crossed paths with guitarist David Donaldson and the two began bringing in like-minded musicians into their creative circle. Today, Valley Queen is comprised of Meadors, Neil Wogensen (bass/vocals), Gerry Doot (drums), Shawn Morones (guitar), and JD Carrera (pedal steel player). Sadly, Donaldson left the band last year for Nashville, TN to pursue another project. “Dave was really encouraging about playing my songs out. He was really the first one to do that, so that was really cool,” added Meadors.
Valley Queen’s name was inspired by the ancient Egyptian burial ground for matriarchs, Valley of the Queen. However, the name also carries with it a personal message that Meadors is conveying. “I feel like valleys are the lowest places of uncertainty, maybe insecurity. It’s a little dark. Queen suggests like an authority or rulership over that. And I feel like that is what I am trying to do with my music, to get some sense of authority over my own darkness or making friends with it or trying to be at peace with those darker sides of myself,” said Meadors.
Meadors’ personal quest for self-understanding and inner-peace is woven through every lyric and melody. “Songwriting for me is a way of coping with pain and sadness so a lot of times the music does reflect that. I’ve come to terms with that and have accepted that more. There was a time when I was like, “Man, I need to give these people something happy. I need to give people something positive.” But I also think it’s important, and it kind of goes back to the band name, to be okay with the fact that you’re not happy all of the time. There are low and sad moments and I think songs are a way of transforming those sad, darker moments of my life, anyway,” said Meadors.
Valley Queen’s singles, “Carnival” and “Make You Feel”, are the perfect examples of Meadors’ honest and genuine songwriting. “Carnival” is Meadors’ critique on the Echo Park community addressing the feeling of isolation she was experiencing amongst the “too cool crowds.” “Make You Feel” tells the story of young love and is supported with just enough bluesy twang on guitar that when it meets with Meadors’ sultry voice you can’t help but feel the groove. In both tracks you hear California’s influence in a sound defined by Southern grit.
This past year was filled with many opportunities and new relationships Valley Queen is continuing in 2015. The band has just finished recording an EP, which was funded primarily through fan donations, with producer, Lewis Pesacov (Best Coast, FIDLAR, Fool's Gold), set to be released this spring. Pesacov was a “compliment to what was already there” and helped create a sonic landscape where all the songs could relate to each other. “There’s a semantic sound happening throughout the whole EP. He’s a really intuitive producer. He has no rule book of the way he has to do it. He kind of prefers things a little bit messy and looser and I’m very much that way. You have to like the people you are working with. I don’t think the music is going to turn out as well if you’re kind of at an odds,” added Meadors.
Last year, Valley Queen began a partnership with White Iris Records to distribute their two singles. Getting “Carnival” and “Make You Feel” pressed for vinyl for the first time was a “beautiful moment” for the band. Once the mixes from the EP are finished, the band plans to continue making their music available through another label partnership.
The Deli Magazine named Valley Queen #3 on their year-end poll for emerging artists, an appropriate title as they have partnered with L.A.’s Jam in the Van. Jam in the Van is the first solar powered music discovery vehicle that travels across the country highlighting bands (Gary Clark Jr., Shakey Graves, Matisyahu, and Moon Taxi to name a few!) Through this partnership, Valley Queen and Jam in the Van are working on getting new shows lined up and new material online.
For Meadors, “making it” in the music industry is an illusion she doesn’t like to entertain. “At the end of the day, nobody knows what is going to happen with their careers, nobody knows if they are going to make it or not. You have to just enjoy the whole process and not really worry about where it’s going to get you. That time never really arrives, all you have is right now,” said Meadors.
Meadors’ prefers to live life without a comfort blanket. She prefers to live in the tension that is the “unknown.” By choosing to do so, she pushes herself to face her discomfort and settle it internally somehow. The result is honest songwriting that engrosses the listener completely. Meadors’ natural talent is matched with an unyielding confidence, and the combination is sure to attract a loyal listenership that will appreciate her bravery.
Be sure to follow Valley Queen on Twitter to stay in the loop of all Valley Queen news! If you’re in the L.A. area be sure stay tuned for their spring/summer shows!
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