WHO: Honey Owens with a revolving cast of contributors.
WHAT: Acid-soaked psych-gaze.
SOUNDS LIKE: Early Slowdive with longer hair and way heavier drugs, or Brightblack Morning Light and the Doors holding hands, walking underwater.
YEAR FORMED: 2006
MOST LIKELY TO BE FOUND: Working at retail store Rad Summer, touring with Atlas Sound or chillin’ among stacks of weird vinyl at Exiled Records.VOTER QUOTE: “I’ve been seeing various bands by Honey ever since I moved to Portland (some of the first shows I ever saw, actually), but I feel like Valet is the pure essence of all the things she’s done; informed by tons of influences but boiled into one very distinct sound.” —Eric Mast, co-founder of Audio Dregs and Fryk Beat Records, a.k.a. visual artist and electronic musician E*Rock
Even the most cursory exploration of the gnarled roots of Portland’s musical underground will reveal the fingerprints of Honey Owens, a.k.a. Valet. An active participant in the fringes of local music for the past decade, Owens’ avant-résumé is beyond vast. Here’s the short list: co-founder of elusive MLK music venue Dunes, part of the collective behind Southeast Division’s vintage clothing/music/odd stuffs store Rad Summer, co-curator of local CD-R label Yarnlazer, frequent Jackie-O Motherfucker collaborator, Nudge contributor, member of Dark Yoga…OK, OK, get the picture? If it’s weird, Owens has been there.
The slow-burning opener to Valet’s latest, Naked Acid, says it outright: “We Went There”—hey, no arguing with that. And “there” can literally be the far reaches of anyone’s imagination (see the rainbow-scape cover art, complete with rock formations and Siamese cat, for a lysergic example). With the help of oddball crooner Adrian Orange and Silentist drummer Mark Burden, the intensely inward-focused album drifts spacily across the sonic spectrum like a musical Odyssey—from seductive siren calls to cyclopean terrors, lazy like a lotus-eater and as shape-shifting as Circe. Equal parts expansive psych-rock epic and hermetic shoegaze meditation, Naked Acid is a hand-constructed Pandora’s box that’s truly in a league of its own—and it speaks to the singularity, and open nature, of its creator.
“It’s sort of become its own thing,” Owens says about the Valet project. “Like I’m no longer responsible. Like I show up to Valet and it just happens…it’s grown into its own self.” Recently returned from a national tour with Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox’s Atlas Sound side-project—both as a member of the band (along with boyfriend, co-conspirator and White Rainbow main man Adam Forkner) and as the opening act—Owens has already embarked on Valet’s next musical journey. And she’s recruited a cadre of all-new players hailing from every expanse of Portland’s outsider scenes—from visual artist and musician Eric Mast to photographer Rhys Balmer and Nudge’s Brian Foote. “We joke that it’s the ‘Band Formerly Known as Valet,’” she says of her new installation-based, as-yet-untitled project. “We’re doing a small tour of galleries, apartments, one beach and one club,” she explains, adding that the train leaves in June.
That’s all the hints we’re getting, but if it’s coming from Owens—who likens Portland to The Empire Strikes Back’s Cloud City—expect the weird, the wonderful and the totally rad.
Brainwashed.com's two-part interview/performance video:
"Kehaar" Live 2-19-08 in Atlanta @ drunken unicorn (courtesy of analogmonkey.tv):
"Kehaar" from Naked Acid (Kranky):
SEE IT: Valet plays Saturday, June 21, at East End. Website: myspace.com/honeyowens