Exploring the dreamy soundscapes of rising UK electronic house artist Vale-Smith


Step into the mesmerizing realm of Vale-Smith, a rising star in the UK’s electronic house scene, and uncover the driving forces behind his enchanting, whimsical soundscapes.

Vale-Smith is quickly becoming a rising force in the UK’s electronic house scene, and his latest album “Um Yo” is a testament to his eclectic and boundary-pushing style. It’s a project that honours the vibrant history of the genre while also fearlessly pushing the limits of creativity. But what drives Vale-Smith’s unique approach to music? In this interview, we have the pleasure of diving deep into the mind of this introspective and imaginative musician.

Vale-Smith’s love for melodies is a recurring theme throughout the conversation, as he shares his desire to make people feel childlike excitement and wonder through his music. He also discusses his childhood video game experiences and how they’ve inspired his work, including the album’s looping back on itself with the sound of starting a new save on Kingdom Hearts 2. But it’s not just video games that inspire him; Vale-Smith draws inspiration from his unremarkable hometown and his daily life as a learning support assistant. 

Join us as we delve into the mind of this unique and talented artist, as we discuss creative process and vision for the future and discover the secrets behind his dreamy, playful soundscapes.


Happy: What are you up to today?

Vale – Smith: I just started on the next album a few hours ago actually. It came to me a few days ago what the direction should be for the next one, I have noticed whenever I’m fresh off of a release my motivation to make songs is at an all time high, so I try to take advantage of that. Otherwise though, I’m at work as usual. Enjoying the present as best I can!

Happy: Tell us about your suburb, what do you love/not love about where you live?

Vale – Smith: It’s not that inspiring really, truth be told I really don’t like it. I once saw Hudson Mohawke say something about why his music sounds so colourful. He said it’s because he grew up in an area of Scotland that was grey with loads of rain, so the music ended up being the brightest thing and it embodies what he couldn’t have. That made me think if that’s why I always try to make my songs sound pretty, I think my hometown is quite devoid of personality. I guess you could say I love what it has led me to take interest in due to my instinct of rejecting it, it shows me everything I wouldn’t want to spend my time doing on a daily basis.

Happy: Describe your average work day. 

Vale – Smith: I work in Education as a learning support assistant. I arrive about 20 minutes before the first lesson, catch up with the teacher & fellow LSAs or maybe chat with any students that are waiting outside the classroom. My work never feels like work to me, I love it. I listen and have conversations until the day is done, some students are higher maintenance but I embrace those challenges. There’ve been many heart to heart chats I’ve had that felt like they really made some kind of positive difference. I’ve been introduced to the most fascinating characters here. Every day is really exciting.

Happy: What about your ultimate day?

Vale – Smith: As far as the ultimate plausible day; waking up quickly without feeling gross, go for a walk as the sun rises, listen to something I’ve saved on my phone, come back and run a bath, freshen up and spend the rest of my morning playing a game or watching a film. I’d do that until I get excited and feel a tingle inside me that tells me to make a song, then I’ll put together some music for the next 3 hours, then maybe leave to meet up with a friend. Normally for the cinema or a concert, I’ve seriously valued giving myself something to look forward to in the evening lately, usually time with my friends. To know that something exciting is close by and around the corner makes it easy to comfortably do everything else in this paragraph without any emotional interruptions. As long as my brain doesn’t get in the way and I can do all of this easily, I’ll go to sleep feeling pretty on top of the world.

Happy: Tell us about your creative community.

Vale – Smith: It’s not the most vast but what I have is lovely. I’m quite an introverted creative, collaborating is hard for me but I’m getting better at it. I’ve been sending a lot of beats to my friend David lately, he makes amazing Trap/Plugg music as ‘DXR’. I’ve known him for a while. I love his song “VAULTED FANTASY”. I knew I wanted to be a part of his next release right away after hearing that, it felt like confirmation that I could offer something that could fit with his vision. Things have been looking good since and I’m excited to see what comes of it.

Happy: What did you read or watch growing up that fuelled your passion for music?

Vale – Smith: It mostly comes from video games actually. Kingdom Hearts 2 most of all, “Um Yo” actually loops back on itself with the sound of starting a new save on that game, I did that because basically nothing excites me more than starting Kingdom Hearts 2. To be reminded of how that makes me feel at the end & the start makes it pretty easy for me to never want to leave this album. I wanted to make games originally but that was too frustrating, there were too many rules. Music allows me to imagine the world it’s soundtracking and do so with limitless freedom, there’s no mistake you can make that will ever make it impossible to hit play on a song. It’s why I love melodies so much, I want to make people feel childlike excitement and wonder the absolute most. I treat my albums as a dreamy playground and I don’t think I ever want to lose that, I like it all to sound as if you’re hopping from one level to another, the sound I’ve carved out myself does well to ensure the music feels that way. There is definitely a Vale-Smith status quo that has always remained no matter how much I experiment. I predict that when I’m 35 I’ll be more interested in making sound collage/ambient music or something. For now, I’m more interested in trying to make everything my younger self wished existed at the time.

Happy: What did you read or watch last that opened your eyes and mind to a new perspective? 

Vale – Smith: Probably “Aftersun”. That’s the first time I’d ever felt like I had to mourn or come to terms with a film. I think it made me a more empathetic person and enabled a deeper understanding of what it means to put your soul into your art. That film channelled exactly how I feel when looking back on a memory that hurts, you don’t even know why it hurts but it just does and it scares you that it does. It really reached into me and showed the power of making something personal, which encouraged me to not shy away from more vulnerable moments in my music. “Soul Absence” & “The Real Bright Blue” were originally going to be left off, I was nervous about them as the sounds were born out of darker places but they’ve been big favourites so far from what I’ve seen.

Vale Smith

Happy: The UK has a long and storied history with dance music, from acid house to UK garage to dubstep. How do you see your music fitting into that lineage?

Vale – Smith: The older I get, the more I notice those influences. I spent way too much of my teenage life hating the sounds of my environment. Grime, UK Garage and 2-step were genres that I perceived as beneath me, somewhere along the way I grew to adore it. I recognised it as part of my DNA and ever since I released “Coruscate”, I’ve made an effort to ensure that somewhere in my albums there’s a moment that feels distinctly british. That’s why I take to using Grime samples, as far as the music on “Um Yo”, I hear this influence the most on “Don’t Get Hurt”.

Happy: Your music often incorporates elements of other genres. How do you decide which sounds to incorporate, and how do you balance them with the house/electro elements of your tracks?

Vale – Smith: Melodies are my absolute favourite thing. The synths and timbres I use are the ones that just feel distinctly melodic and comfortable, I’m not huge on saw synths or horns. I noticed once that most any melody or progression I come up with could work quite well as a dance song. I always add drums last because I think it’s really special and vital that what I’m making could still sound good if you were to remove the drums. Anything can work as a house song if it already stands on its own two feet. My desire to make dance music grew after attending so many concerts throughout 2022, I felt like my ear for chords and grooves could apply well to that sound so the evolution into that felt very natural.

Happy: Some critics have noted that your music has a more introspective and emotional quality compared to some other house and electro tracks. How do you approach imbuing your music with that kind of depth?

Vale – Smith: I think that response is so amazing to hear, it’s the ultimate thing I want people to pull from it all. I’m extremely committed to making every sound, every drum hit, melody, chord progression or bassline, across the entire runtime of my albums feel like something that would have the potential to absolutely delight my younger self. When I first heard “Glass Swords” by Rustie, I took it as a guarantee that if I were to make music, there would be an audience for it since there is an audience for this album. It was an eye-opening moment, that introspective feel I think innately becomes inseparable because I’m never just trying to make “a good electronic song”, I’m trying to make a good electronic song that would inspire me in the way Rustie did, I always reach deep into my brain and spend time figuring out what my ideal song is in this moment before I start.

Happy: How has your music evolved over time, and what do you see as the key themes and ideas that run through your work?

Vale – Smith: I think the most apparent change is that it feels more high definition. I don’t think it’s weird that the same person who made “The Real Bright Blue” also made “Daffodil Wisdom”, I feel like that’s very clear in just how the songs feel emotionally. The soundplay is denser and the ambition is larger in the new music but the ideas and goals for what I want them to do for people have remained the same. It’s all for the love of giving people that indescribable feeling. When I imagine myself at home playing Persona 5 for long enough, I’ll fight to do that because nothing else will feel comparable to that joy. I would love for my songs to instil that same excitement, and I believe there’s a real unmatched purity to the space in electronic music that I also occupy. I’m just chasing that purity again and again with each record, that’s all it ever is.

Happy: In the current music industry landscape, where streaming and social media play a huge role in how music is distributed and consumed, how do you navigate the business side of things while staying true to your artistic vision?

Vale – Smith: I find it really difficult to manage that side of things, social media is the only way I think to notify people of my new releases but only a tiny fraction of my listeners even follow my social media. I rely a lot on playlist algorithms to get the sounds out there. It is nice to have platforms readily available for me to post whatever I want, whether that’s a photo I like, some visuals or a snippet. I mostly just try to have fun with the things I post in the same way I do with the music, that way it all feels like it’s a part of the same universe. I’ll think about what kind of content would excite me the most from my favourite artists and go from there. I could probably be doing more to extend my reach but that’s far from my area of expertise really.

Happy: Can you talk about a particularly memorable performance or moment in your music career that stands out to you?

Vale – Smith: I have never performed music in front of a crowd before. I’ve made many mixes and practised DJing loads, I feel ready for it and that is my biggest goal for 2023. You need connections for that kind of thing really and that’s pretty limited on my end, O leap at every sliver of a chance I can get. I’ll have conversations with staff at concerts and attend anything that feels like it could have the smallest chance of introducing me to the right person. As far as what I have achieved so far, it’s easily “Coruscate” achieving TheWonkyAngle’s album of the year spot. I love how he discusses music so much, he’s so earnest and exudes a genuine fascination with both the research side of it as well as his attempts at exploring the intent in everything happening within the music. He lives and breathes electronic music, I can’t believe I was his number one.

Happy: Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future, both in terms of new music and your overall career trajectory?

Vale – Smith: I have a very strong idea of what I want to make on the next record. It’ll sound like another Vale-Smith album but it’ll flow differently, I want to make it more conventional to prove to myself that I can do that and still have it be appealing to me in the same way my other albums are. It won’t be as long but I think it’ll still sound just as huge, I’m really excited. I love seeing all the different reactions, they shape my decisions and ideas more than I’d like to admit. “Um Yo” so far is proving to be my most positively received album yet but I’ve also seen people disappointed. To be able to disappoint in itself I see as a huge compliment in a weird way. I want to do live sessions this year, online and in person. I’m aiming to get in the habit of performing through YouTube live streams and I’ll do anything I can to get myself on a stage in front of people. Whether it’s one person or a hundred, I think my ideas for it will translate well. I want to collaborate with more artists, release sample packs, work with animators and hopefully get the attention of more glorious publications and people like yourself. The most important thing to me when it comes to releasing music is offering something interesting. I know a lot of my listeners consume loads of music regularly, I don’t like the idea of my album blending in amongst it all. Shrugging my album off as merely okay is worse to me than when it actively bothers someone, but I welcome all responses. It’s fascinating to me, I thought “Skip Scarlet” was a shoe-in for the fan favourite track but I’ve seen a fair bit of criticism over that one. I never really know how any of it is going to go, but I always do what I wholeheartedly believe is my best and above all else, I enjoy myself. It took a while to simply let the fallout be what it is, you’re never 100% in the driver’s seat.

Happy: What makes you happy?

Vale – Smith: Self worth and offering something positive. Whenever I successfully remind myself that if I wasn’t here something would be missing, I really honestly smile. It isn’t easy to feel that sometimes, so maybe that’s what my music is here for. Listening to my music makes me feel validated like nothing else, truly nothing in this world could fulfil me more than this cycle. I love that it’s as endless as I want to be, true purity in escapism.

Um Yo is out now via Maulcat Records.