The city’s ocean breeze and cooler climates brought Victor Casillas Valle to San Francisco, but it is the experiences and people that have kept him here. Just as the city has been giving to him, Valle has also offered his own gifts to SF.
Originally from West Covina, Calif., Valle brought his passion of music and writing to SF with the startup of his own music website, We Move Against the Tides at wemoveagainstthetides.com, which focuses on the Bay Area music scene.
Although Valle’s repertoire of music writing began at 13, he knew that music was in his future at a much earlier age. “I started playing piano before I could talk, and music runs in my veins,” he said. “My mother and father were both musically oriented, and I grew up around it. I [knew] whatever I would do, music would play an eminent role in it.”
Writing became a passion for Valle when he started composing journals, lyrics, and poems in middle school. Then in high school,
Valle took a journalism class thinking that it would be easy. To his dismay, it was quite a challenging course. Nevertheless, the subject matter sparked his interest, and Valle moved up the ranks from staff reporter to section editor — later finishing his high school career as the editor-in-chief. “Music writing made the most sense to me in middle school, but I never considered it journalism — which, in retrospect, is a bit funny.”
Throughout high school, Valle combined his love for music and writing by running his own blog and speaking to musicians around Los Angeles. However, he had bigger plans in mind: “I wanted to start a music website that was localcentric, runned by a staff, and very in-depth and thorough.”
After meeting some friends during his first year at USF, Valle developed We Move Against the Tides. Since its conception in February 2012, WMATT has brought in a lot of people interested in local and underrated artists in the Bay Area. The website features reviews and interviews, along with content from their radio/talk show on KUSF. It plays local music and invites artists into the KUSF studio as guest hosts and live performers.
I spoke with Valle about the future of WMATT, today’s music scene, and what the experience of starting his own site has taught him. He also compiled a list of songs by Bay Area musicians for the second installment of “Tunes for Final Exams.”
FOGHORN: What are your goals for the online publication? Personal goals?
VV: I’d love for it to be a publication that people come to for quality writing about artists they may not know about. I want our storytelling to be intriguing, thorough, and fun. I just want people to know what We Move Against The Tides is and what we’re all about.
FOGHORN: What do you think about today’s current music scene? And why is it important that we pay attention to local and underrated artists?
VV: Today’s music scene has its ups and downs. Some artists are writing about important and interesting stuff, and I’d argue others are full of publicity stunts. It’s hard to say one word about the entire scene though. They are the roots. They are the pioneers and groundbreakers. Without following people who are starting from the bottom, we lose the pure creativity, passion, and ingenuity that music is known for.
FOGHORN: What song(s) or musician(s) have you been listening to recently? VV: In terms of local artists, I’ve been listening a lot to Ghost and Gale. They have this song called “Wicked Heart” which I’m utterly obsessed with. It’s so profound and simple. It’s one of those songs that you can imagine being a part of your life soundtrack.
FOGHORN: In which setting do you enjoy music the best (e.g. concerts, small venues, by yourself on the bus, etc.)?
VV: They are all extremely enjoyable for different reasons. Huge concerts have this “bigger than life” feeling that is encapsulating. Smaller venues make you feel like you’re part of a community and make things feel more intimate. Listening to music on the bus is such an experience of becoming introspectively lost. Music is amazing in all contexts, I’d argue.
FOGHORN: What’s the best decision you’ve ever made? How has it affected you?
VV: I’d argue that it’d have to be first deciding to start that music website. Being self-starting led me to be that way up until this point. And now, if I really want to do something, I’ll find a way to do it — or even better, make a way to do it. It’s a lesson I learned when I realized I don’t have to wait for something to happen if I really want to do it.
You can check out We Move Against the Tides at wemoveagainstthetides.com or listen to the radio show on KUSF.org on Mondays from 5:30–7:30 p.m.