Valley Sixteen is a 20-year-old indie-pop artist who writes, produces, and records all of her tracks on a bedroom (sometimes a bathroom) floor. She also is quite the world traveler in her quest to find a sense of identity. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, and then moving halfway across the world to Frankfurt, Germany, she realized that her “safe house” may never physically exist. But she finds a constant in music, as it is the only home she has never outgrown, and that comfort is represented in her identity as Valley Sixteen. Her debut single, “Fake,” was well-received on both Apple Music and Spotify and now she is back with her debut EP.
Apartment Flaws strings together a collection of tracks she created in different apartments in different cities through her journey for a physical “safe house”: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Heidelberg, and Frankfurt. The entire project is deeply personal; each track dives into an extremely emotional story and each story is utterly relatable as well, that’s just part of life and growing up.
Her lead single, “Borderline,” dives right into the theme of reflective personal experiences. Backed by a dreamy electro-pop melody, the track touches on a relationship Valley was in before leaving home where she was constantly labeled “the villain” due to her mental health. Her introspective lyrics glide over echoing synths and an sweet string plucks. As she reflects on the treatment she received from her significant other, she takes ownership of her mental health. Ultimately, the song is about making peace with the sensitivity she feels towards the world around her. That acceptance to shine is paralleled by a shimmery closing production.
“Icy” starts off with a more stripped-down sound – drawn-out vocals take front and center. Slowly, more production elements join in to create a soundscape that is the slightest bit experimental without going too far into the deep end with breathy backing vocals underneath the main resounding vocals. The lyrics dive into falling in love with someone who is afraid of commitment. Even though the realization that they’ll never love you the way you want them to is inherently sad, there is also a strength, reflected in the power behind the vocals, that comes with this realization.
The path towards a more mellow production continues with “Sad Eyes.” Laced with reverbing beats and surrounded by ethereal harmonizing vocals, the track takes on more of a slow R&B vibe. It tells a story of a family member who was cheated on and abandoned. The pain is evident in Valley’s emotive vocals as she poses unanswered questions to the significant other. She stretches her vocal range to include more pointed, falsetto lines that draw out the hurt and betrayal.
As the quiet melodies of “Sad Eyes” draws to a close, listeners are ushered into a more hurried and pop-forward bassline with “Fake.” Still generous on the reverbing beats, light piano keys and bright embellishments add to the swaying atmosphere. The track touches on realizing that your closest friendships were never really close at all and the message swirls above the rosy production. Harmonizing vocals also take a prominent place in this track, giving the track more depth while the lyrics reveal the moments you realize these friendships have been fake.
“Everybody Knows” represents a full-circle moment. As the closing track, it’s a reminder that it’s okay to be hard to love and the acceptance that it’s okay for people to leave if they have to. Pulling in elements that have been used in all of the previous songs, “Everybody Knows” takes on a melodic pop production that uses live instruments, layered vocals, and an entrancing beat. Valley’s prominent vocals hint at confidence in knowing herself and how others view her. It’s an important coming-of-age lesson: not everyone will love you the way you are, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
You can listen to her entire debut project below! It’s a powerful reclamation of her experiences; she’s taken this opportunity to write the story that has so far been her life, using the avenue of music that makes her feel the most secure.