Death Valley High
Interview with Vocalist/Guitarist Reyka Osburn
By Jen Canipe
Photos by Jen Cash
California-based Death Valley High combines rock/pop, electronica, and hardcore into an eclectic mix of tunes on their new release, Positive Euth. Vocalist Reyka Osburn describes their music as “a mixtape for a doomsday party.”
Give us a brief history of Death Valley High.
After the breakup of the electronic rock outfit, Tinfed, I started writing for DVH. I was briefly sidetracked when I joined Will Haven’s new hardcore/stoner rock project Ghostride. When that started taking away too much time from DVH, I took a break to record and release, The Similarities of the Loveless and the Undead. The lineup had a few changes, and we primarily played Northern and Southern California. In 2011, we released a second record, Doom, In Full Bloom, which further defined our sound. After making a video and branching out on some tours, we headed into the studio to record our new album, Positive Euth, which is out this summer.
Why did you choose Death Valley High as your band’s name?
The name was chosen for its rich visual facet. It was the thought of blending the TV series Sweet Valley High and Tales from the Darkside into something like the movie Battle Royale.
Tell us about the experience of recording Positive Euth.
Recording the album was better than we’d hoped for! With Minus Head Records’ and Fantasy Studios’ support, we got to make the album we wanted. The environment alongside everyone involved, made it conducive to creativity. I think it shows in the end product!
How is a song created in DVH?
Normally, we have the songs written out and demoed before even bringing them to the table to piece together. I normally bring about two or three to the table and then we all dive in. Once we’ve worked out the skeleton and fleshed it out, we choose our favorites.
Tell us about your tour plans to support Positive Euth.
We’re currently working on West Coast dates, to be announced soon. After that, we’re looking to jump on dates in the Midwest during the late summer, and going to the UK/Europe by fall. Then hopefully, we will come home to some East Coast dates towards the latter end of the year…just getting in front of as many people and audiences as possible.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
I might say my favorite song would be, “A Little Light Conversation.” It stretches most of the boundaries we’ve been [in] before, and still represents the album’s essential elements. When I had come up with the title and started the lyrics, it was intended to be a chaotic burst of energy. After playing around with the piano line, it was clear what should happen…all of the intensity should bathe in this unassuming potion.
What was the funniest or weirdest moment you’ve had as a band so far?
Being asked to go drink beers after a show at some girl’s place. The catch here was, she didn’t even “have” a place! She was inviting us to who-knows-where, in-the-middle of NOWHERE! We sensed a possible coup de main and got the hell out of there!
If you could make your own tour bill, who would be on it with DVH?
It’d be some eclectic mix of styles and tones…something where we’d be squeezed on a bill, not unlike The Cure, Refused, The Hounds, and Bad Powers or Retox. Deathvachella…or Deathvalooza! Horrible…
What are your musical influences?
Hardcore and Post-Hardcore…but even those genres wouldn’t be anywhere without 80’s New Wave & Post-Punk. Let’s give credit where credit is due!
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
Creating something…I drew all the time when I was growing up, always covering my textbooks and folders with ridiculous images. I wanted to be in animation, but that eventually devolved into wanting to make films. Our video for “Multiply” was my first public stab at that medium.
What makes you stand out as a band? Why should people check out Death Valley High?
We’re not everybody’s band. We stand out, by and largely, from our sound. We adopted the term, “Doom Pop,” quite a long time ago. We’ve been seeing more and more bands try and claim it. Maybe “Death Pop” would be more adequate for us! In any case, if you like your vibe on the darker side, we’ve got some things inside for you! Hmm…maybe that’s our new “one sentence” definition?