The Clouds Lift: An Interview with Owls & Lions

When Jay Della Valle and Nicole DeLoi first met at a wedding, they knew they were soulmates. But not in the way you’re thinking.

They were both working this wedding as a DJ and violinist, respectively. Della Valle had been working the wedding scene as a DJ and with a live band for quite some time, and DeLoi had just moved to the area to work on her music career. She was immediately invited to join Della Valle’s band, but they soon found themselves creating music that wasn’t the same style. As the band separated, they decided to stay together as a duo.

“We knew we could rely on each other and get paying work and continue to keep doing what we're doing,” Della Valle said. “This immense respect and attraction for one another on a friend/soulmate level... it was just easy to not give it up. We just had a thing that people enjoyed when we performed together.”

In the years since their project, Owls & Lions, began, they’ve focused less on rock clubs and more on weddings, festivals, theaters and house concerts. However, they just released their first EP, There’s a Light, in early 2019.

They had two songs that they originally recorded and held onto for a long time because they knew they wanted to make an album but didn’t have the resources. Della Valle said he didn’t want to make the mistake of releasing the songs, “I Do, Me Too” and “Perpetual Bliss”, just for the sake of releasing them, so they waited for the right moment.

Those songs were produced by Hanan Rubinstein, who has worked with the likes of Alicia Keys, Rita Ora and J. Cole. When they had about 20 more songs, they reached out to Rubinstein again to see which songs he’d want to be involved with. From there they dove into the creation process with him and came out with what they decided were the best songs that represent who they are.

“It's allowed us to have people listen to our music and get into it and enjoy it and come to shows and know the words and look forward to content,” Della Valle said. “We told ourselves we were going to celebrate each song and make as big of a noise with each song as we can. I've gone about it the wrong way so many times with just putting it out and not following up with it. If you don't care and love it and celebrate it why is anybody else going to do it?”

They are currently finishing a promotional run of the single “Take The High Road”; a song that many people have said is their favorite off the EP. It is unlike the rest of the tracks in that it starts off with a conflict and ends with a more optimistic outlook.

According to Della Valle, he came up with the title first and channeled a story with the song, piecing together different aspects of their lives. The end result of the song turned out great, but he knew the music video needed to be better.

“The video needs to make the experience of the song that much better,” he said. “If it doesn't serve the video, it can't exist.”

Della Valle spent months interviewing animators that had the exact style they were looking for, ultimately working with Nathan Morrow and his simple, line-drawn narrative. His creation ultimately captured the concept of the song, giving the listener a better understanding of their take on darkness and the light.

“You go through a dark time sometimes and somehow you get out of it,” Della Valle said. “The clouds lift and you ascend into a better place.”