I had the pleasure of meeting and performing with Dina Valenz in Portland, OR last year for Matt Boydston record release show. It was a fantasic night of music and talented performers. Dina's songs were playful and sharp and her voice carried her songs with strength and a beautiful sound all her own.
Dina is a Los Angeles based singer songwriter, who recently released her EP "With My Shades On". If you get a chance to catch one of her shows, you will be in for a real treat. Here is what Dina has to share about her singing and songwriting.
SS: Do you have any rituals before you perform to get your voice ready?
DV: I do a couple vocal exercises and sing along to a few of my favorite happy songs to get psyched up for the show.
SS: What is your go to vocal trick?
DV: Not really a trick but I try to make sure I'm good and warm before a performance. That includes sipping on hot tea with honey.
SS: What have you learned about your voice you didn’t know 5 years ago?
DV: Don't force anything. If I am performing a challenging song and I can sense that my voice isn't at it's best that day, I will readjust and maybe go into falsetto instead of belting out the high note etc. There was a time when I felt like I had to push through to get the best performance but as long as the energy is there and you're not straining the performance won't suffer.
SS: Any advice for other singers on how to maintain and improve their voice?
DV: It's important to give your vocal muscles a good work out. Sing everyday but be sure you warm up first.
SS: Any dos and don’t for singing?
DV: Don't be afraid to try new things.
Do let yourself feel the emotions of the song.
Don't get too caught up in the technique.
Do have fun!
SS: Who is your favorite singer and why?
DV: My favorite singer of all time is Jewel. She has a very unique sound to her voice and has great range. The thing I like most about her is that she's raw. She has an incredible voice but she's not afraid to let everyone hear the notes that don't sound so pretty. She lets her emotions come through in her performances and does not hide behind filters and auto tune even in the studio.
SS: Any upcoming shows? What are you working on now?
DV: I've been busy with the release of my newest EP "With My Shades On" which is currently available on itunes, amazon & streaming. I've been doing a number of shows in promotion of this record which have been really fun! The next big thing I have coming up is a showcase at the Orange County Fair on August 1st where I'll be playing the Meadows Stage.
SS: Best piece of advice you have received about singing?
DV: Be yourself. Try not to sing like other people. If your voice has a unique sound, that's great! It makes you different and helps you stand out in the crowd. It took me a long time to be comfortable with my own voice. Coming away from vocal classes I thought I should sound like the Disney princesses and thought I was doing something wrong because I didn't have a strong soprano voice. I'm glad I met the right people along the way to guide me and help me feel confident with the big belty voice that I have. Now I feel like I can perform any type of music with the knowledge that I can make it my own.
SS: Of all your advice and singing tips, what is your #1 tip you would like to add to the singers tip page.
DV: Going along with the previous question I would say my #1 tip is not to get too caught up in technique. It's important to know the fundamentals but be sure you are being true to your own voice and be proud of it.
SS: Do you have a process to your songwriting you have found to be the most effective? If so, what is it?
DV: I'm a melody person. I always have my cell phone near by so I can record anything that may pop in my head at any given moment. When I sit down to write I will usually go to my voice memos and see which melody stands out and go from there. The melody will give me the direction that the song needs to go and then I work on the lyrics and craft the story.
SS: Do you have a favorite songwriter and why?
DV: Yes! 3 and they're brothers who were big in the 90s. Yea that's right Hanson! lol I've been a huge fan of theirs since they came on to the music scene in the 90s and have continued to be a big fan of their music until now. The melodies that these guys come up with are incredible. Everything is hooky and that's what I strive for in my own writing. Happy music that will stick with people and make everyone feel something.
SS: What would be your tip for other aspiring songwriters out there on how to write a song?
DV: Listen to a lot of music. I'm always really inspired by what I'm listening to at the time. Keep listening to music and look up lyrics to read along. It will help you learn what works and what doesn't work in a song. If you can, get someone objective (other than your mom) to listen to your songs and have them tell you what they really think. Be open to constructive criticism and keep writing!