Meet Our SXSW W Hotel Artists: Saints of Valory
3/6/2013 11:55:00 AM
Brazil + Canada + France + Los Angeles = Austin? That's how Saints of Valory do math, anyway. As told to me by lead singer Gavin Jasper at a radio conference in San Francisco last month, this multi-national band began thanks to their missionary parents. Guitar player Godfrey Thompson (the one from LA) and his family ended up in Brazil; where he and Gavin met as kids, formed an immediate bond, and kept in touch before finally rendezvousing in Rio De Janeiro twenty years later to form this band (Godfrey brought the French drummer Gerard Labou with him).
The trio recorded some songs together and threw them up on MySpace. To their surprise, a label in Florida contacted them about a record deal just weeks later - before they had ever played a live show together! The band scrambled to get to the US and contacted another childhood friend, Canadian keyboard player Stephen Buckle, about rehearsing at his studio in Boerne (finally, Texas enters the picture - though Stephen didn't officially enter the band until a while later). Unfortunately, their momentum was slowed when Gerard decided to take a break due to his father's illness and eventual passing.
The group went into a bit of a cocoon-like period, and when they emerged with a more intricate and developed sound, the Orlando label was no longer interested in signing them. Reunited and resilient, the band decided to move to a place where they felt inspired by the live music scene and where other labels had expressed interest - Austin, TX. Here they finally started playing gigs, recorded a couple full-length albums, and caught attention from the right people. This time last year, Billboard named Saints of Valory one of the six best unsigned bands in the country. Since then, they have signed to Atlantic Records and are currently working on their major label debut material.
I'm embarrassed to admit I hadn't seen them until after their signing, but I was - well, ALL of us who finally saw them at Sunset Sessions were blown away. To the point that I offered them the last slot for our SXSW morning broadcasts without consulting Andy, who usually serves as the brains behind our operation. "Is it all right if we're really loud?" Gavin asked me when I made the offer. ALL RIGHT indeed! Bring your earplugs for their Saturday morning set at 9am.