Voyage LA - Hidden Gems Article


Today we'd like to introduce you to Dina Valenz. 

Hi Dina, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I continued playing open mics, singing in the high school Vocal Ensemble and in my church choir. Eventually, I went on to attend college at the University of California, Irvine and formed my first band called Not Like the Other. We played gigs at the strangest places from dive bars, to boxing rings, to parking lots but it was so much fun! As most young bands go, we were not great, but we had a lot of fun together and eventually went our separate ways after graduating. That’s when I decided to go solo and really try to give my music career a shot.

I worked in television production as my day job and took songwriting classes through the UCLA Extension program in the evening where I met my mentor Mark Winkler. He really believed in me and encouraged me to take more creative risks and develop my songwriting style. Mark and I wrote a few songs together and he produced my first album in 2013. I took the show on the road after that and toured. I had the great fortune of playing so many amazing venues and events throughout the country including most notably the Aladdin Theater in Portland, OR, and a showcase at the SXSW music festival in Austin, TX. The touring life was fun, but it was also draining so I decided to take a break from the road in 2017. I would still play local venues here and there, but I was burned out and where music had brought me the most joy in the past, it was now causing me the most stress. Just as I was beginning to feel the urge to write music and play again — the pandemic hit and I was forced to continue my musical hiatus.

During the first year of the pandemic, I wasn’t singing, I wasn’t writing, and it was taking a major toll on my mental health. After doing some inner work, I realized that a major part of the reason I was struggling was because of the lack of music in my life. Together with some of my neighbors, we started hosting safe and socially distanced front yard music events where we would get together to play songs on our instruments and sing. I almost instantly felt better having that sort of community and joy back in my life. Coming out of the pandemic I made a big effort to incorporate more music in my life. I started writing again, I joined a choir, and I started receiving requests for me to play at local events and private parties.

I feel whole again! My calendar is full of great community events that need live music, I’m meeting wonderful people via private parties and corporate events, and I recently joined an amazing 5-piece band called Jon Franco and the Rebel Scum. I’m excited to see where this musical journey will take me next.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There have been so many challenges throughout my musical career. Being a solo musician is hard because in addition to writing, singing, and performing, I am also forced to be my own promoter, booker, web designer, social media manager, etc. It’s a lot for one person to take on and without having anyone to share the load with I burned out.

Additionally, the money isn’t always great. Tours are expensive and there was no way I could maintain the lifestyle I wanted without also having a day job. I learned a lot working for myself as a musician and I believe that a lot of those skills have made me successful in the profession I have today working in a nonprofit development.

I had to learn that just because I wasn’t going to be the next Alanis Morrissette didn’t make me a failure. I can keep making music and work a full-time job that also feeds my soul. I am happy to share that I feel more joyful now than I ever was when I was living the “musician’s dream”. I have a career I love, a lovely home in Long Beach with my husband and rescue dog, a desire to serve the community, and a reignited passion for music and singing, which I am honored to have the opportunity to share with the local community and the world.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m a pop/rock singer-songwriter with a deep connection to my community in Long Beach. I am very proud to have been voted Best Local Artist in the 2022 Absolute Best of Long Beach Awards.

In addition to performing my own brand of acoustic pop songs, I also love including cover songs in my sets. That’s the thing that’s so special about music– it has the ability to unite and inspire. I am available to perform solo or with my band for private parties, corporate events, and community fairs and festivals. As much as I love sharing my original music with people, nothing makes me happier than seeing someone really get into a cover tune and watching them enjoy it!

Lately, I’ve been working on incorporating more songs in Spanish into my repertoire. I am a proud Latina and I feel a deep connection to my roots and my family when I sing in Spanish.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
The quality that has been most important to my success has been my ability to push forward and adapt. No matter what life has thrown my way, I have always been able to figure out how to make things work. For me, that has meant taking a break, prioritizing my needs, ending relationships, taking new opportunities, shifting my expectations, and ultimately pursuing the things that bring me the most peace and joy.

Contact Info:

Back with a new EP, So Cal native Dina Valenz’s joined forces with producer Jay P, with the collaboration yielding a new sound direction. Performing extensively locally, Dina returns more confident, bolder and with more attitude as she continues traversing the bumpy road of young love, armed with guitar in hand. Discussing the relatable sacrifices one does for long distance love and the “best part of her day”, several genres (pop, country, EDM)  blend together to relay these messages.Whether it’s bubbly “Show Him Off” and radio-friendly “With My Shades On”, Dina combines a little Alanis and Lady Gaga for a new brand of infectious pop anthems you’d turn up in the car on sunny car rides in the summer. Showing versatility on “Fighter” and “I Hate That I Miss You”, Dina brings out a new harder club goddess edge. Taking a gamble on changing things up to reflect an expansion of range, proved a good one.” - Carlita

— Music Emissions

Dina Valenz is a rising young singer/songwriter whose talents are evident on her new six-track EP titled,With My Shades On. Set to release in mid-February 2015, this latest release marks Dina’s sophomore effort, and carries a more experienced tone than her previous EP, Miles & Miles. While this new EP seems to have more weight lyrically – showing Dina’s growth as a woman – the music stays true to the pop-rock sound the artist established with her debut release.With My Shades On, offers the pop music fan a great deal of options. For example, my favorite track from a musical perspective is I Hate That I Miss You. It has a dance vibe that any club DJ could add to his/her rotation and get the party started. On the flipside, I Can’t Forget You, is a much more meaningful song because it speaks to the real life drama of trying to maintain a long distance relationship. This particular song will be easily appreciated by anyone who has ever attempted to date someone in a different city or state.The rest of the project is worth checking out as well, and if you’re a fan of dance, pop-rock, or contemporary pop music then you’ll likely find With My Shades On to be of interest. Be sure to stop and check out this amazingly talented musician.” - The Miews

I Am Entertainment

Intro: Dina Valenz is a singer/Songwriter that hails from Los Angeles area. She’s been making quite a name for herself regionally and nationally. She has received critical acclaim for her amazing songwriting. “Miles and Miles” is her latest 4 track release and the result though far from a self-indulgent ego trip, rather a moving and elegiac artistic statement from start to finish. This is not your overly predictable Ramon Noodle Pop Rock ale artist, no Valenz goes much deeper than that. In-fact Valenz could even be classed as a 4 genera artist: Alternative Rock, Pop, Americana and even contemporary Singer/Songwriter. Valenz has way too much precision and clarity to live in the shadows of overly-predictable Pop Rock. Indeed this is clearly evident in songs like the title track, “My Favorite Pair of Jeans” and “Skinny Bitch” which methodically ups the ante to a very respectable level of catchy musical expression and craftsmanship that transcends typical pigeonholing. The music is also commercially viable with a fresh sound and an entertaining vibe that makes a real connection with the listener. All pieces within this album hold the attentions span of the listener perfectly. In a nutshell this is Alanis Morissette meets Jewel. The 5 song line-up comes fully loaded and appeals to many listeners with a wide variety of musical styles.MUSIC can be heard vi SOUNDCLOUD – I would imagine in time we will hear more from this amazing artists in the near future. No doubt Dina Valenz has carved a marketable niche for herself thus far setting himself up for more marketable success down the road. I would not be surprised to hear his music featured in a major Motion Picture or TV Series one day. But for now I can honestly say this is one artist that clearly gives you a clairvoyant snapshot that is highly original, uplifting and dare I say brilliantly catchy in scope.” - Michael Rand

All What's Rock

Remember light and bubbly pop? It seems almost every decade bares this mark of female bands and/or singer-songwriters who balance airy, breezy songs about love with a few songs with bite about politics, societal clichés or said lovers who might eventually yield heartbreak. Dina Valenz's latest EP, Miles & Miles fits this Cali artist well into this class of cool chicks. With a Broadway theatre quality voice (reminding me of Idina Menzel), she wavers from soft whispers to rocking out for emphasis on "All of My Tomorrows" and "Miles &Miles".Before you peg her as that girl with only songs about being in a comfortable relationship (admittedly that's where I naturally gravitated), she cheekily roars back with doo-wop inspired "Skinny Bitch" about the lady carrying pets as accessories,designer labels and fake bodyparts we've probably all encountered who inexplicably steals the guy away. Ending the EP on a strong note, "Miles &Miles" could easily wind up on a movie or musical soundtrack, proving Dina won't have to travel very far to reach her promising next-level potential.” - Carlita

Music Emissions

TOTAL: 3.6 out of 4 ratingLocation: Los Angeles, CAGenre: Pop/Rock/AcousticKey Tracks: My Favorite Pair of JeansDina Valenz is a talented young singer-songwriter from San Pedro, California whose latest EP, Miles & Miles, can be described as fun, sincere, and blunt. Miles & Miles is a four song lesson on creative songwriting that exposes the world outside of Los Angeles to Dina's talents as a singer-songwriter.An awesome combination of acoustic driven pop-rock, the project has a great deal of relatable subject matter that is delivered from Dina's bird-like voice. Songs like "My Favorite Pair of Jeans" make Miles & Miles a great addition to your iTunes and Spotify playlists. With some some help from co-writer Mark Winkler, Dina creatively declares, "You are comfortable, and you are wonderful. They don't make them like you baby, anymore. We've been through 100 washes, and been hung out to dry. Baby you're the best friend that money can never buy. You're like my favorite pair of jeans."Songwriting at this level is an artform that only those with elite talent have mastered, and Miles & Miles is proof that Dina and her co-writers belong in that class. You'll hear it also on other songs, like the title track Miles and Miles.Overall, Miles & Miles is a journey that is worth taking with Dina Valenz. Much to my delight, I found Dina and her EP to be very refreshing and well worth checking out.  ” - Senseitional (Reviews Editor, I Am Entertainment)

I Am Entertainment

Dina just released her four-track debut EP, which was executive produced by veteran contemporary jazz singer-songwriter Mark Winkler (who also co-wrote with Dina the infectious jangling pop/rocker “Favorite Pair of Jeans”) and arranged by renowned jazz pianist/keyboardist Jamieson Trotter. This EP gleefully dances up and down the spectrum of modern-day Pop-Rock with hints of Americana-Blues-Folk served on the side. The CD Opens with the stark title track’ and pulls out all the stops until the final track “All of my Tomorrows.” The EP as a whole pretty much hits on all cylinders. “Miles and Miles” is an eclectic mixture of many different styles of music and covers a lot of ground. The music and vocal presence of Valenz present the perfect musical backdrop for just sitting back and jamming out or playing in the car for a long drive. While each track is similar within their own right, all songs on “Miles and Miles” delivers unique, emotionally charged experiences that will satisfy any aficionado. Of particular note are the smooth, soothing vocals provided by Valenz. She delivers sold performances within her own right, all the while retaining a feminine fullness that compliments the skillful array of sounds brought forward by the rest of the band. Though I could be wrong I suspect musical influences here are as follows: Sister Hazel, Sarah McLachlin, Heather Nova, Anna Nalick.To sum it up: I give the Dina Valenz and enthusiastic 4 out of five stars and highly recommend this EP to any fan of pop, rock, Americana and Folk. Grab yourself a copy and kick up your heels to some solid songwriting! It definitely sets the standard for the genre, and should be a big hit this Summer.Dina Valenz – Miles and Miles (EP) Locale: Los Angeles Sounds Like: Sister Hazel, Sarah McLachlin, Heather Nova, Anna NalickOfficial URL: AVERAGE/AVERAGE/ABOVE AVERAGE/STELLARFinal Rating: 4/5 StarsReview by Trevor Gray (UK) edited by Heather Savage” - Trevor Gray

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