Published on May 10th, 2022 | by Dr. Jerry Doby0
Speaking With Glenn Valles About New Single “Urban Cowboy”
Most songwriters get hung up on one specific genre or style, sometimes two or three at most, but this has never been the case for the multi-genre, international award-winning songwriter Glenn Valles. Born and raised in Mumbai, India, vivid imagery characterizes his songwriting, be it country, pop, rock, hip-hop/rap, EDM and more. His father Edmund played piano in his home and his mother Clothilda loved to sing while rustling up some delicious meals. The Valles family would sit around the dinner table and talk about events of the day, while the radio would always be tuned to their favorite station. In his growing years, his uncle, a natural storyteller, would share tales of cowboys and the west that pushed Glenn’s undying love for country music forward. Glenn picked up his first guitar during his teen years. His brother Dexter, taught him to play a few chords and after his college graduation, his knack for writing meaningful, imagery-loaded songs took off. Listening to Glenn’s songs is like watching a 3-minute movie. However, his skilful creations and undeniable talent tend to stay behind the scenes. It was Celvita, Glenn’s wife (and muse) who encouraged him to chase his dream as a songwriter and so for nearly 15 years now, he has solely focused on his passion and setting his spirit free through writing and crafting music. With “Urban Cowboy” he chooses to go after the classic Southern twang to breathe life into his latest country original. For over a decade, he’s been winning international songwriting awards, contest after contest, in different genres validating his skills as a very innovative songwriter. His most recent victory was in April 2022, when he won the 23rd Annual Great American Song Contest award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Songwriting’ in his category. Already in the process of recording his next hit in the blues/hip-hop/rock genres, there is no question of Glenn’s creative gift in all his musical productions.
With our constant advancements in science and technology, Glenn wrote “Urban Cowboy” to explore the idea of an old rancher’s reaction and adaptation to our modern society. It merges old and new in a country tune that delivers something timely, relevant, and unique to the genre’s expected storytelling. Specifically, the urban cowboy reflects on how the urban lifestyle is blending its way into the country life more and more, as continuous advancements make way for more tech-savvy ways of living. The way Glenn puts it, “the World Wide Web has cast its net and lassoed him away” from his traditional way of life on the plains. However, in the end, the message is that you can take the man out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the man, as his heart and soul will always remain on the range no matter how time continues to bring about change.
Naturally, the “Urban Cowboy” visual encapsulates a cowboy getting pulled into the digital age, but never fully letting go of his country roots, tending to his cattle and fixing fences around his open land of plenty. The visual represents this well with the smooth transition between the traditional spurred cowboy boots, leather tassel chaps and Stetson to the corporate suit and shoes business attire, who are really one and the same under the surface. For Glenn, while “Urban Cowboy” is not based on a true story, his songwriting is in some ways reflective of his own life experiences. Glenn never let his 9-5 corporate work overtake his pure love for music. Similar to the urban cowboy, he keeps navigating the world to find the right voices to align with each of his artfully-crafted musical themes to date, regardless of the wide-cast net his creations hold. With this kind of sticktoitiveness with his art, it is a guarantee that his voice and video will be well received across international markets.
When and where did you first discover your passion for music? What made you want to pursue a career in the industry now more than ever before?
Back in the day, we always had music playing in our home on our record player or on the radio. My Dad, Edmund used to play the piano and my Mom, Clothilda loved to sing while rustling up some delicious meals. I picked up my first Guitar during my teen years and my brother Dexter, taught me to play a few chords. So, music played a quite vital part in my growing years in Mumbai. A few years after I graduated from college, I began writing songs and I haven’t stopped. I guess music and songwriting is in my DNA!
I kept writing songs with the hope that one day I would put my songs out there and someone would probably enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoyed listening to songs by great artists. But, somehow “life” took precedence over that dream, I had to work a 9 to 5 to earn a living and the years soon flew by. However, my original song collection kept growing as I would often write and record songs. Ultimately, it was my wife (and Muse), Celvita, who encouraged me to pursue my dream as a songwriter. I soon realized that I must change paths before time runs out on me and focus completely on something I love to do. That’s when I decided to take that leap of faith and plunge eyes wide open into songwriting and the music business. Thus, I emerged in my new “avatar” as a Songwriter and I finally discovered my ‘purpose’ in life. This spurred me on to write a song called the “Story Of My Life” which you can listen to on my YouTube Channel – Glenn Valles Music. Here’s the Chorus and essence of the song
“Writing songs sets my spirit free
Music gives new life to me
Don’t want to die with songs inside
I want my dream to stay alive!”
As an artist with songs spanning across multiple genre varieties, what draws you into creating music for such a wide array?
I just love music. Any genre that sounds good to my ear is what I like to listen to, whether it’s country, pop, rock, hip-hop, rap etc. I tend to write and record songs when something moves me or inspiration strikes me. But, it’s equally important to write songs that people can relate to. The subject matter that I write about quite often determines the genre. Take for example my song “Karma” – it’s a song I wrote and released prior to “Urban Cowboy”. “Karma” is a song that takes a look at what’s happening in our world today and reminds us of the famous adage “You reap what you sow”. There was a lot that needed to be said and also the style that I had in mind was a fusion of two different genres – Rap and Rock. I felt that Rap/Rock would be the perfect genre for the message to get across and for the song to have an impact. That decision I took was validated, as recently in April 2022; “Karma” won the 23rd Annual Great American Song Contest award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Songwriting’ in the Alternative Rock category.
Being strictly a songwriter who has others record your original songs, what does your creative process look like to bring each composition to fruition?
When I write a song, I sing and play the Guitar or Keyboards and record a demo “worktape” in my home studio. I then test the song by getting unbiased feedback from professionals in the music business. Once I get to know that my song has some potential and might work commercially, I get a recording of that song done in a studio by professional vocalists and musicians who are skilled in that genre. But before that, I have an extensive discussion with the studio manager and convey my vision for that song to him/her. The production is extremely important as it can make or break a song. Therefore, I draw out a detailed pre-production note which has very specific instructions with regard to the genre, the type of vocalist, the instrumentation, arrangements and production ideas I have in mind for that song. I then monitor the progress at each stage of the production, till I get what I had intended for that particular song.
What inspired you to write “Urban Cowboy”? What makes this song unique among other country classics that the genre’s lovers know and love?
My Uncle, Ivan, was a great storyteller, as a kid I remember being hooked on to his “stories” about life in the Wild West – cowboys, ranches, rustlers, outlaws, bounty hunters – the whole shebang! When I grew a bit older, I used to read Western novels by the great Louis L’Amour. I also loved watching Western Movies like “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly”, “The Magnificent Seven” and many more. I would listen to the soundtracks of those films as well as other Country & Western songs for hours at a stretch. Given my love for the Wild West, I always wanted to write a Country song about cowboys, horses, ranches – the typical Country lifestyle that I saw or read about. However, life changed so drastically with the advent of the Internet that it left me thinking – what would life look like through the eyes of an old Rancher in this day and age? That’s how the idea of “Urban Cowboy” was born and took shape. Also, the words “Urban” and “Cowboy” was a perfect example of an antithesis and to me it had the makings of a very intriguing and unique title for a song.
To answer the second part of your question, I will quote what one of my listeners wrote about “Urban Cowboy” in her comment on my YouTube Channel.
“I love this country-classic music style meeting with a more modern/contemporary story being told. Plus, the imagery in the visual is spot on. If I close my eyes and listen to the lyrics, I feel like I can envision everything. So awesome.”
That, for me is the ultimate compliment a songwriter can get. It’s also very satisfying to know that my creation has made someone feel good for those 3 minutes. These are the things that motivate me to keep on writing.
In what ways do you personally connect with the “Urban Cowboy” lyrics and the story being told through the single?
Those stories about the Wild West that my uncle used to tell my brother and me, reading books about it, watching cowboy movies and listening to their soundtracks, would mentally transport me to that lifestyle and I kind of lived it – albeit “in my mind”. As a result, “Urban Cowboy” is a product of my imagination with a bit of truth in it based on the lure of an evolving and everchanging world we live in.
What was your experience generating ideas for the music video for “Urban Cowboy”? How did you help decide on each of the effects used, and how do the visuals further drive the plot of the song forward?
I have a simple “mantra” – follow the storyline in the lyrics. The lyrics are the blueprint for the music video, so the visual imagery has to match or come close to the storyline in order to convey the essence of the song. I think the visual effects used for the transition between traditional spurred cowboy boots, leather tassel chaps and Stetson to that of a corporate suit and shoes business attire says it all. I’d always like my listeners to feel that they are watching a 3-minute movie.
Follow Glenn Valles: