Val Halla was born and raised in the heartland of the Canadian prairies, to a Hot Air Balloon pilot, fiddle playing father, and a motorcycle riding, visual artist mother. The cold harsh winters, coupled with humble prairie life, led Val to develop a wild imagination and a deep love of music.
At the age of 5 she was playing the piano and wrote her first song. By the time she was 11, Val had just started learning songs of the 90’s grunge movement, playing on an old nylon string classical guitar her grandfather had given to her mother. After a few years of lessons focusing on grunge and rock n roll, Val’s guitar teacher was finally able to persuade her parents to buy her an electric guitar.
“All I was playing was Nirvana and Classic Rock.” says Halla, now 26. “My guitar teacher saw how I was struggling with this thick fretboard on the nylon string with my tiny hands, trying to play Aneurysm, and just couldn’t stand to watch it anymore.” Thanks to Halla’s childhood guitar teacher, she soon discovered the joys of overdriven guitar tones and new sonic and technical landscapes she had never before dreamed of. Now an endorsing artist for both Mack Amps and Carparelli Guitars, she has found a unique style and sound all her own, and is making big waves in the guitar and music communities alike.
This past summer, Val was asked to be the opening act on Ted Nugent's Trample the Weak Hurdle the Dead tour. Val Halla played 41 shows all across America with the Motor City Madman, and has performed to just under 100,000 people in 2010 alone.
Val Halla’s song “The Bad Girl Touch” was featured and reviewed in the November 2009 issue of Guitar Player magazine by the Editor in Chief himself, Michael Molenda. Molenda made note of Halla’s “seductive singing and coy lyrics” in addition to a positive review of her playing abilities.
Only a few weeks later Halla was contacted by Guitar World Magazine to be featured in their 2009 Holiday Buyer’s Guide.
Gary Allen, best known for his days drumming in the Charlie Daniels Band and with guitar legend JJ Cale, remarked “If Nancy Wilson could sing like Val Halla, she could have kept all the money.”
Steve Gunner of Creedance Clearwater Revisted testifies “She is very talented, and has a great future in the music business.” Gunner adds that Halla “is serious about her craft, and I admire her determination.”
That determination was first demonstrated just after Halla turned 17 years old, moving two provinces away to the big city of Vancouver, British Columbia to pursue her music further. “My parents didn’t believe me that I was going for music. They asked me if there was some guy who was brain washing me to go out there. I just told them I knew I had to go, because the music was out there calling to me. I don’t blame them for thinking I was crazy!”
After 7 years of hard work in Vancouver, including 3 years working and apprenticing at Greenhouse Studios doing Recording Engineering, Val Halla decided to leave Vancouver to see what inspiration she might find in Nashville, TN. She spent her time going back and forth between Nashville and Saskatchewan, spending hours on end writing, performing, and recording. After two years of this diligent work which Val has referred to as a "self-imposed musical boot camp", she released the album "No Place" in March of this year.
"I wrote 7 of the songs on No Place myself, and I decided to include 3 songs that were cowrites as well. Nashville is known for its cowriting, so I was encouraged to try it out when I first went there. Cowriting is definitely still new to me, but 3 amazing songs came out of those writing sessions that I am very proud of. One of those is "Be One Tonight" which Murray Pulver of Doc Walker wrote with myself and 2 others. It was so cool because I wrote it the day before heading to Canada to start recording and it made it on the album. We sent the track back down to Murray in Nashville and he performed the guitar solo on it. It feels really good to have other people sharing in that process. Elliott Randall, who played one of my favorite solos of all time on Steely Dan's "Reelin in the Years" also played on No Place. He is the featured guitarist on the albums closing track "Drink My Life Away". This was such a personal and sentimental track for me, I can't believe how well Elliott found a way to express my own sentiments in his playing. I was honored to have him on my record."
Immediately the industry started to respond. In 2010 Val Halla performed alongside Def 3 at the Saskatchewan Olympic Pavilion in Vancouver, showcased in Toronto at Canadian Music Week, showcased in Austin during SXSW, performed multiple showcases at the Florida Music Festival, and showcased in April in West Hollywood while the Musexpo Conference was taking place. This final showcase brought out Nathan Gregory of McGhee Entertainment to the West Hollywood venue The Cat Club, where Val was performing a solo acoustic set. Only two days later, Val Halla was offered the opening spot on the Ted Nugent summer tour.
Now with a wealth of experience & only 26 years old, Val is set to finally make the music she's always wanted to make, and has earned a big enough following to support constant touring. With an ever growing fanbase in both the U.S. and Canada, Val will be touring in support of the "No Place" Album until further notice. Though no recording date has been set for a follow up album, Val is already in the writing process for her next release.
"It's most important to me right now to get in front of as many of my fans as I can, which means putting in a lot of miles in the big old tour van! Every where we go we are making new friends and fans too, so my focus is just trying to get this album out there and the music and live show that goes along with it. I am really proud of this album, in that I had to face a lot of my own struggles and inner demons in order to make it. I'm not saying I've conquered many of those either, but at least I had to fess up to them being there, and I think that's why this record came out a lot more honest and gritty to me. I put my soul out in the open, and its definitely a vulnerable feeling, but when you get responses from people who say they can relate, or how a song gave them strength or comfort or a reason to act out even, it makes it feel worth it. I know I can dig deeper, and I know life is never going to be without struggles, so I am keeping the next album in mind, and thinking of how i can use that opportunity to do something really special. But that will come in time, and for now i'm just loving playing the songs off No Place every night, I know this is my time to enjoy it!"
Val Halla has stayed very true to her rock n roll influences, citing a lot of classic rock artists as her heroes. Her sound has been described by one fan as "Courtney Love meets the Alman Brothers", and by a friend as a cross between the Grunge and Country genres, namely "Gruntry".
"I've had a lot of people within the industry tell me that I need to pick one or the other. If i want to play heavy bluesy distorted riffs, I can't also be doing rootsy acoustic ballads. But all my heroes from the 70's were doing just that, and it worked very well! If a band like the Doobie Brothers, or Lynyrd Skynrd or even Led Zeppelin came out now, they would have some songs that might get played on rock radio, but they'd have some that would fit more on country radio. The formats for the stations now have become so narrow, and the music is sounding more similar and sterile than ever in both genres. There are still great artists in both genres, don't get me wrong. But i think that radio isn't giving anyone who is too far outside of the narrow lines a chance, and ultimately that is hurting today's artists, and their fans. That's why I called the album 'No Place'. If its too 'rootsy' for rock radio, and too 'edgy' for country radio, then I'll be content to have no place to fit in, and i'll carve out my own place! I see it as a really positive thing actually, because I have country fans who like my music, and rock fans who like my music. Why would I ever want to purposefully alienate half of my fans?"
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