Right now—maybe in your city or town—Honey Owens aka Valet is performing as part of Bradford Cox's traveling Atlas Sound show. That's awesome and all, but on her own she creates sweaty, blissed out desert jams from a warehouse in Portland. We were feeling her upcoming album Naked Acid so we decided to run a Gen F on her in FADER 52 (on stands now!) Check the Gen F After the jump and download "Kehaar" from Naked Acid below.
Download: Valet, "Kehaar"
Valet is Portland's Street Dream
Story Sam Hockley-Smith
Photography Leah Nash
In a converted Portland warehouse called the Oak Street, Honey Owens lives in a loft with her cats Casper and Tiger and her boyfriend Adam Forkner, who makes music as White Rainbow. Below them is Adrian Orange, creating quavering folk, and under him is the office of his label, Marriage Records. Owens has been in Portland for 11 years, doing what you do in the Northwest: starting lots of bands and playing in everyone else’s. She’s cleared rooms with the outer-orbit rock experimentalists Jackie-O Motherfucker, co-run a CD-R label with Forkner called Yarnlazer and co-owned bars. The whole time she’s been making psychedelic, reverby shoegaze free jazz under the name Valet, and will release her most recent album Naked Acid on Kranky. “This whole record is this kind of ‘I live in the Northwest but what would happen if I was ancient and I lived here and went through time and was psychic’ thing,” she says. Like a fever dream, Naked Acid weaves through your brain until it ends and you’re left trying to figure out what you just heard and why you can’t remember any of it. Then you want to listen again. It’s so fluid that it’s almost like it doesn’t exist.
Though Naked Acid is loosely a concept album based on Owens’ perception of Portland, it is also about her idea of the original woman, as well as her dreams about Casper and Tiger. The whole thing sounds pretty fucking alien, but it’s also her most accessible album yet. “It’s like when you look in a mirror and you’re like, Oh I’m not very good looking,” Owens says. “You spend your whole life trying to get away from that first thing, trying to become something else, then all of a sudden you make something you really like, and you pull up the first thing you made and you are like, Whoa, it’s the same thing. My essence is in all of this.”
Unintelligible words—vowels and consonants fractured and tonal—flit in and out of the songs, making the music sound like the perma-grey top left corner of this country, as occasional bursts of bright hot desert heat punch through in clipped guitar strains. It’s an album for anywhere, but Owens makes it about Portland, because ultimately she and it are the same.