Valerie Broussard is a singer-songwriter from Pennsylvania who has made quite a name for herself with her unique brand of dark pop. Valerie moved to London at the age of 18 to begin her songwriting career. After spending a lot of time honing her craft, she returned to the U.S. with the foundation of her own style of hauntingly goth-tinged pop music. She released her latest single "A Little Wicked" about 6 months ago and since then she's received over 389,000 plays on Spotify, praise from dozens of publications, and a placement on Fox's television show "Lucifer." We caught up with Valerie recently to discuss growing up in the hometown of The Simpsons, how she became a better songwriter in London, how her hit single was inspired by jury duty, and much more! Watch an exclusive acoustic performance of "A Little Wicked" and read our interview with Valerie below.
What was it like growing up in Springfield, Pennsylvania?
It was your typical American suburb, though I grew up in a really quirky family in a big old spooky house so I wouldn’t say my childhood was really all that typical after all. I met some truly incredible friends in that little town, many of which I am still close to.
Did you get a lot of Simpsons jokes as a kid?
Of course. I love how you say “as a kid” as if I didn’t get one from a friend in LA just a few months ago. I think I’ll be getting them for life!
Are there any other musicians in your family?
My uncle plays a smattering of instruments and is highly musical. My older brother is an excellent guitar player. It was really those two who got me into music in the first place.
Did you perform in talent shows as a child?
Just one - at the library when I was six. I sang Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’, much to the surprise of my audience I expect! After that I started to find such things cringe-worthy, probably because I also found them intimidating.
When did you start listening to Opera?
I was exposed to opera quite young but first one I listened to all the way through was Faust, on the recommendation of my brother. He was exposed to it by the book The Phantom of the Opera, that’s one of the operas they perform in it. It’s still one of my favorites, I have a friend who absolutely slays Valentin’s aria. It’s a fantastic tune.
You moved to London at 18. What made you want to go so far away?
I think I was dying to get out of small town America. I wanted to be the sort of person who had adventures. Romantic as that notion is, I think it turned out pretty well!
How did the initial conversation with your family go when you made the decision?
I don’t think my parents were too keen on it at first…but the idea really grew on them. My parents have been to Europe a bunch of times now and they absolutely loved it! My brother was supportive from the start, I think he knew what was right for me. I think he always has.
What was the biggest culture shock for you living in London?
There are honestly a lot of things that took getting used to. Understanding that my healthcare was free and really quite good took me awhile. I kept trying to pay for things!
It's apparent that you travel a lot. why? Are you running from or searching for something or neither?
I think it would be easy to accuse me of both of those things, but I don’t see it that way. The world is vast and beautiful and I see no point in staying put. Traveling has a way of restoring your faith in humanity. Just the other day I made friends with an elderly piano-man in a restaurant in Gdansk, Poland. He didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Polish but we ended up singing and playing a bunch of old jazz standards together. It’s stuff like that which makes me want to keep traveling.
Let's get to "A Little Wicked." Is it true that the song was inspired by jury duty? Can you explain that?
Yes! It’s true! I won’t lie I wasn’t very excited to be there in the first place and this slightly slimy official kept calling me “honey” and putting his hand on the small of my back. Instead of actually saying anything I just started scribbling away in my notebook and I wrote “no one calls you honey when you’re sitting on a throne”. And thus the song was born!
How would you describe the genre of music that you make?
People have been calling it Baroque Pop which I quite like. So let’s go with that!
Take us inside one of your writing sessions. Where is it? How many people? Whats the vibe?
It really depends on who I’m writing for, and what city it’s in. Usually though it’s between two and three people, there’s a chill vibe. If it’s with a producer or songwriter I know well there’s definitely some goofing around. With one of my favorite producers, we take a break every few hours to drink tea and watch standup comedy.
Who is AG?
She’s a brilliant fellow songwriter, producer, mentor and friend. She produced “A Little Wicked” as well as a number of my forthcoming tracks.
What can we expect next from you?
I don’t want to give too much away but there will definitely be a new release before the end of the year.
If another one of your songs was to be featured in a tv show, which show would you want it to be?
Well you’ve set me up perfectly to announce that 'A Little Wicked’ will be on the finale of 'Guilt’ on Freeform which airs on Monday the 22nd of August. I’m thrilled about that. We have a few others in the pipeline as well over the next few months that I’m excited about. That said I’m really into 'Preacher’ on AMC at the moment, so it would be a dream come to true to have a song placed there.