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The Glorious Return of Valerie’s Maethelvin

The Valerie Collective’s Maethelvin is ramping up for an exciting, maybe life-changing couple of months. On Wednesday, the retrosynther will release Composer Series Volume 5, a collection of his work meant to close one chapter of his musical career and open a new one. He’s also doing shows in Tokyo and Hong Kong with friend and fellow Valerie member David “College” Grellier. 

Believe it or not, Maethelvin’s contribution to the Composer Series, which follows releases in that series from College, Forgotten Illusions, Sternrekorder, and Stephen Falken, marks only the second-ever release from him, even though we’ve been enjoying Maethelvin songs since 2007.

“Over the past few years, mainly because of my primary job as a UX/UI designer, it has been really difficult to do more,” the Nantes, France-based musician told Vehlinggo recently. “These past few months, though, I’ve tried to come back to music, and this album is a first step toward this goal.” 

Since that The Last Escape/Cruising 7-inch split with Falken in 2007, Maethelvin has released a number of great, often classic, 80s-inspired tracks such as “Lost in Big City,” “As We Were,” and “Delight.” All of those and more will be on Volume 5, which covers Maethelvin’s first seven years from 2007 to 2014. It’ll show up on his Bandcamp page on Wednesday, April 15.

“These tracks were never packaged like this before, and I really wanted to put them out this way,” he said. “…It was important for me to finalize this release, because it’s, in a way, closing this first era.”

Maethelvin in action. Photo Credit: Maethelvin.
Maethelvin in action. Photo Credit: Maethelvin.

As he has been preparing to put this release out in the world, he’s also been working to lay the groundwork for the second phase of his career.

“I’m currently working on new tracks, and hope they will be available quite soon,” he said. “The music style will stay quite the same: Mainly instrumental, only synths and drum machines… but perhaps a little bit more funky and shiny than the first [seven years].”

He’s also gathering up sounds for both for his upcoming live shows — a May 29 gig at the Trump Room in Tokyo and Valerie’s Eighth Anniversary party a day later at Zafran in Hong Kong — and for a new release to follow Volume 5.

The live sets will draw from classics such as “Lost” and “Dragster,” but they won’t sound exactly the same.

“I rewrote them to make them sound a bit more club-oriented and make them fit into [the live] configuration,” he said.

The Beauty of Nantes

My favorite Maethelvin song is “As We Were,” a gorgeous and chill cut with a soft, catchy synth riff and some synth leads straight out of Flyte Tyme (he calls it “romance disco,” which is brilliant), but I was curious what song of his was his favorite.

He joked that he liked them all, but then zeroed in on “Night Love” as the most important, because it more or less kickstarted the Maethelvin project as we know it.

“Basically, this track was kind of a joke,” he said. “I composed it to make David believe that it was a rare track made in the 80s by an un-famous composer that I named ‘Maethelvin,’ because no results were available through Google… and it worked!”

“More than that,” he added, “it was the first time I was composing this kind of track, and you can find every element I’m still using in my songs: The kind of synth sounds, drums, atmosphere…”

Maethelvin, like Grellier, has lived in other places, but like his friend he finds that Nantes, the gorgeous city in western France and the birthplace of Valerie, is the best place to live and create.

“It is a very nice place to live,” he said. “It’s very comfortable living down here. It’s quite cheap, the weather’s fine, and there are plenty of cultural things to do.”

Being around his friends is nice, too.

“Basically, Valerie is a collective made up of good friends, and I think this is the best thing about being part of it,” Maethelvin said. “At first, we were having fun nights every week, watching 80s movies and TV shows, or just listening to synth music. And this is where Valerie’s roots are — enjoying retro stuff with good friends.”

“Lost” is one of the nine tracks that will show up on Volume 5. If you don’t already know it by heart, check it out on Soundcloud:

(Feature Photo Credit: The cover art for Maethelvin’s Composer Series Volume 5 release.)