Kassi Valazza Knows Nothing is one of those records you just can’t help but play over and over again. The American folk singer from Portland Oregon – who grew up in Arizona – makes you forget there’s such a thing as time, at least for the 46 minutes her second album is playing. Listening, I got the same kind of wonder and warmth as when I first heard Erin Rae’s Putting On Airs or Courtney Marie Andrews’s Honest Life.
While she was out on the road, in between drinking coffee, Kassi Valazza and her band joined The Influences in Groningen to record this session. With Lewi Longmire on lap steel and Tobias Berblinger on keys, she played Song For A Season and covers of Michael Hurley’s Light Green Fellow and Camille Wind Weatherford’s Cheryl Anne.
Kassi Valazza: “Michael Hurley creates songs from a deeper place.”
It’s the second time in a short period that an artist covers Michael Hurley for The Influences. (The other is Hollow Hand, which will be posted soon.) Hurley is an American folk singer-songwriter who was essential to the Greenwich Village folk music scene of the 1960s and 1970s. He plays a wide variety of instruments, and is also a cartoonist and a painter.
Kassi Valazza explains why she loves his work: “I think as artists it’s important to leave a level of mystery to what you’re making so other people can have their own interpretations. Mike is just so good at creating songs from a deeper, more unknown place while also using simple language and melody.”
“She can take any song and make it her own.”
The other cover is a song by Camille Wind Weatherford, who is also part of The Lostines. Fun fact: The Deslondes’ Sam Doores has played on their recordings. Kassi Valazza is friends with Weatherford and was a bit nervous about covering her song. No need though, because it’s stunning as you might have heard by now.
“Camille is a force of nature with her songwriting. Her stories are just so relatable and it’s delivered beautifully in her choice of words. Also the melody in this song, especially the chorus, just gets stuck in your head, so much so that it feels like a lost classic.”
“Everything I make will always be constantly changing.”
Kassi Valazza is getting a lot of praise for her second record – and deservedly so, but I would recommend listening to her 2019 debut Dear Dead Days and 2022 EP Highway Sounds as well. Valazza describes her artistic development as organic: “I think everything I make will always be constantly changing. I’ve never really thought about having just one sound, it’s more like whatever I’m listening to at the time really shapes the art I’m making at that moment.”
Valazza loves the classics. “I wasn’t allowed a lot of modern music as a kid, and still to this day my music catalog is mostly artists before 1985. Neil Young is a big one for me as is Sandy Denny. When it comes to modern artists I love Juliana Riolino’s debut album All Blue, Chris Acker’s Good Kid, Dean Jonhnson’s Nothing For Me Please and I’ve been listening to a ton of Courtney Marie Andrews who is also an Arizona gal.”
“This last album was written during a time where I was unhappy and wasn’t sure of how to create change or what that might look like. Most of the songs came from a place of reflection and when I listen back I can hear myself trying to make sense of it all. It’s such a privilege and gift being able to make art. You really can discover a lot about yourself.”
“This wasn’t my first EU tour but it was my first time in the Netherlands! I always love touring, especially overseas in new places. People seem to kinda get what I’m doing a lot more in Europe than back home in the states and I’m always so grateful I get to do this for a living.”
Filmed by David Lawson Froggatt & Matthijs van der Ven.
Edited by Matthijs van der Ven.
Audio recorded & mixed by Matthijs van der Ven.
Take Root Festival
Groningen, The Netherlands
The Pink Stones
David Lawson Froggatt
There is no better way to discover music than watching great musicians cover the songs they love. The Influences has been producing these videos ever since 2008.Read more.
Thank you for watching and enjoying this session. You’ll probably like some other sessions from The Influences’ archive too, like these earlier ones filmed at TakeRoot festival.
I’ve lost track of the number of New West Records-artists that have recorded sessions for The Influences by now. All that matters right now is the newest addition: The Pink Stones. At TakeRoot this November, they loaded all their gear out of their van (which was in a minor incident the night before) and recorded…
Kassi Valazza Knows Nothing is one of those records you just can’t help but play over and over again. The American folk singer from Portland Oregon – who grew up in Arizona – makes you forget there’s such a thing as time, at least for the 46 minutes her second album is playing. Listening, I…
Alexa Rose has a talent for writing songs that subtly force their way into your heart. Every since I first learned of her name – after noticing she was opening for Hiss Golden Messenger in the States – and listened to Headwaters, I keep coming back to those songs. Last year, when she toured Europe…