Biography

Valensia (born Aldous Byron Clarkson; 13 April 1971) is a Dutch singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, cinematographer, movie director and writer, most known for his symphonic anthem and international hit Gaia. Within the world's professional music scene, Valensia is regarded as one of the most gifted all-round symphonic pop composers of all times. Having started writing music at the age of five, Valensia had his major success at the age of twenty-two, with his international hit single Gaia, which broke all possible rules, from composing to pop music-marketing, selling over 1 million copies worldwide.

His debut album was awarded with the Dutch Zilveren Harp and the prestigious Edison Award. In Japan Valensia even momentarily surpassed then-reigning pop star Michael Jackson in popularity when his debut single topped all the charts.Influenced by Queen, Kate Bush and The Beatles, Valensia influenced a generation of symphonic artists and rock groups with his unique use of chord progressions and micro-arrangements. Unknown to the general public, he created a vast number of choruses with their unique standards. Like many of the aristocratic acts, Valensia had to compete with the rise of the grunge and Britpop in the early nineties. He chose for a successful career in Japan and Southern East Asia and officially left the music industry in 2014, with his 6th album "Legacy". In 2018 however, he made a come-back with his 7th album "7EVE7".

Valensia
Valensia
Valensia

Early life (1971–1988)

Valensia
Aldous 'Andy' Byron Valensia Clarkson, aged 17, in Waalwijk, 1989
Aldous 'Andy' Byron Valensia Clarkson, aged 17, in Waalwijk, 1989

Valensia was born Aldous Byron Clarkson in Scheveningen, The Netherlands on 13 April 1971. His parents, James Henry Clarkson (1940-2006) and Jacqueline Vossen-Clarkson (1950-1999) planned to emigrate to San Francisco, U.S. but returned to the Netherlands just weeks prior Valensia's birth. His father James Clarkson was born in Buitenzorg, Java, in the Dutch East Indies (present day Republic Of Indonesia) from Indo, Dutch, English, German and Jewish descent and his mother Jacqueline Vossen was Dutch-born, possibly from Sinti descent. The just-married couple traveled cross-country from Washington DC to San Francisco, almost losing the 2 month Valensia in utero during a blizzard up in the Rocky Mountains. The family moved back to The Netherlands in 1971 in The Hague, relocated to Delft in 1973 and Tilburg in 1974, then settled in Waalwijk in 1979, where Valensia (nick-named "Oldie" from Aldous) would stay until emigrating to Denia, Spain in 1994, initially fleeing from the overwhelming wave of success after his debut album and single, but becoming a Spanish resident in 1995. In Tilburg, Valensia composed his first bits on the piano of his mother Jacqueline; bits Valensia later would incorporate into his music, such as the intro of "The Polka" (K.O.S.M.O.S., 1996) or "Bonenhood" (The Blue Album, 2002).

Valensia attended the Dr. Moller College in Waalwijk in 1984, the same college his father was a teacher, causing frictions between both of them. Valensia was a rebellious student and oftentimes suspended. A teacher recalls the 15-year-old Valensia:

"He wasn't really causing trouble but he just wasn't there. When I would pass his desk he would always be in the same position: His left hand covering his face and his right hand on his lyrics or artwork. He had the name "Gaia" written on his agenda 1985–1986 and there was nothing one could do to get him back to planet earth once in writing-mode. I once slammed with a large book on his desk. The entire class jumped. He stoically looked up at me and said: "You wouldn't happen to know a word rhyming with stoically?""

Valensia was halfway writing his debut album at the age of sixteen. His father had Valensia switch from the Dr. Moller College for the Michael Mavo. Valensia says about his college years:

"I was a pain in the ass. Either doing my music or chasing girls, deliberately getting the lowest grades possible, because I knew I wouldn't be needing those anyway. Even for music I got the lowest grade in human history. I didn't care when or where Beethoven was born. I still don't."

In 1987 Valensia dedicated most of his time composing and styling the rock group Mistress, he formed with his friends C.J. Otten, lead singer, Patrick Buys, bass and Marco Kootkar, drums. They recorded one of Valensia's first songs The Way Of Romana in Venlo, the studio arranged by Valensia's aunt, Jillian Clarkson, who later would accompany him as his agent, arranging record deals in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and The Philippines. Valensia did the lead vocals on the song, which later would become July July (The Ex) (The White Album, 1994). For Valensia the recording was of great personal importance, confirming both his writing and vocal abilities. In 1988 Valensia had finished his debut album while graduating from college with the lowest grades.

The 1988 Valensia album's track list:
01. "Tere" (featured on the debut album Valensia, 1993)
02. "The Sun" (featured on the debut album Valensia, 1993)
03. "The Way Of Romana" (featured on The White Album E.P. July July (The Ex), 1994)
04. "Illsia" (featured on Gaia II, 2000).
05. "The Line" (featured on The Blue Album, 2002)
06. "World's End" (featured as "Acquelcuela" on Gaia II, 2000)
07. "Mistress" (featured as "Blue Rain" on Gaia II, 2000)
08. "So Hard Goodbye" (unrecorded)
09. "Singing The Swan" (featured on The White Album E.P. July July (The Ex), 1994).

Valensia's 1993 debut album features 2 of the 9 songs, while all other tracks have been used on his later albums. School exams stalled further development, much to Valensia's dismay. By the time they graduated, the band Mistress had fallen apart.

"We should have recorded the entire album in Venlo, like we did with The Way Of Romana and gotten a record deal: the timing and the band were perfect, we were the new Duran Duran."

In 1989 Valensia's mother urged him to go to the Dutch conservatoire, mastering an instrument while his father urged him to get a job. Valensia worked exactly one hour at Diepop Waalwijk B.V., a cold service packing company. Valensia promptly left when he translated the company's name to English. Due to people discouraging him to sing his own songs, he placed an advert in the Dutch Music Maker, looking for a lead vocalist, naming his future band "Valencia". With lead singer Addo Kruisinga he then formed the cover band "Red Lane" to practice live performances. One of Valensia's most memorable shows still is their 1989 gig at The Kajuit in Übach. According to Valensia:

"1989 was a great year for the glam rock scene. We had a great stage, great audience and wonderful groupies. Looking back, I don't see much difference between that show and the shows I did as Valensia. I learned that this band-comradery was what appealed to me most in the music-industry. And I went solo."

In 1990, Valensia was offered a deal by studio manager Inge Jagt from the Soetelieve Studios, 's-Hertogenbosch to record his debut album in the dead hours. The then nineteen-year-old Valensia was absolutely ecstatic and recordings began in July. The tracklist contained Phantom Of The Opera, The Sun and Tere. But in the fall of 1990, the studio manager was fired and Valensia's album recordings were halted and the tapes put under lock and key. It meant a blow for Valensia as he'd spent months preparing the songs and recording harmony vocals.
Inge Jagt suggested writing "something with a children's choir" to Valensia, who had just composed various fragments for a song which ultimately would become Gaia. It would take until the summer of 1991 to come up with the replacement for the chorus, as the song initially would be an ode to his Spanish hometown Denia. Valensia replaced the Denia chorus with the Gaia chorus and struggled to record the gargantuan Magnum Opus on a Fostex 8-track recorder, lend to Valensia by Jan Bijlsma and Arjen Lucassen, then bass player and guitarist of the Waalwijk-based group Vengeance.

Valensia got to know Jan and Arjen when he auditioned as a guitarist for the band, who found the then 17-year-old Valensia too inexperienced and too young. It was bass player Jan Bijlsma who coined the idea to send a demo to John Sonneveld, who had produced two Vengeance albums. In 1992 Valensia spent most of his time traveling to Hilversum, trying to get a record deal. He was rejected by all major companies, including EMI, Sony and even the record company to which he would later sign, Universal, turned him down. In November 1992, Valensia received a call from producer John Sonneveld (Anouk, The Golden Earring) telling him he was interested in producing the album. Unsure if he could handle such complex arrangements, John hired producer Pim Koopman (Kayak, Diesel) and presented the Valensia project to Universal (then Phonogram Holland) who then offered Valensia a 4-song recording contract.

Car accident (1992)

Tilburg, november 1992
Car after accident
Car after accident

Just one day after signing the recording contract, Valensia was involved in a car accident as a co-driver when an Audi 80 rammed against the passenger seat Valensia was seated, causing the Volkswagen to loop three times before ending up in between the two lanes of the N261 Midden-Brabantweg freeway. Valensia miraculously survived the accident because he was not wearing a seatbelt and was released from the hospital with blunt renal trauma and severe muscle rigidity. After consideration, it was decided by both Valensia and Universal not to reschedule production. Valensia has said: "It had such an impact on me since it occurred just 24 hours after signing the record deal. I'd been mentally strong up until that moment. Now it felt I was on God's to-do-list.". He would write the songs Catalepsia and Evil Evil (both B-sides for the singles Tere and Nathalie, 1994) as a form of therapy.

Overnight success (1993)

Valensia at the Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum
Valensia, just having signed his first contract with Universal, May 1993
Valensia, just having signed his first contract with Universal, May 1993

Valensia recorded his debut album as well as all other Universal-signed albums in the Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum, which in 1992 was at its height regarding international fame. Recording in the Netherlands was fashionable for top acts from all over the world and Valensia suddenly found himself as a twenty-one-year-old amongst veterans like David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, The Scorpions and Michael Jackson. Valensia describes this period as the tail end of the Golden Age of pop music, which were without a doubt the years of decadence:

"I saw Roy Thomas Baker come in, recording on a golden camera. When we had dinner, he demanded the studio's driver to get another papadum 'cause his was broken. Driver returned with an intact papadum, Roy said: "Thanks" and crushed the papadum. I thought: "What a bunch of spoiled bunch of people." And I also thought: "I really love being here"."

Although Valensia was quite modest, his song "Gaia" demanded the biggest budget ever spent by a Dutch record company on one single. About 3 weeks into the production, a few days prior to the recordings of the Metropole Orkest, replacing the synth-generated orchestral sounds, Phonogram's A&R manager Herman van der Zwan came walking into the control room, about to pull the plug. After a heated debate, John Sonneveld and Pim Koopman persuaded van der Zwan to continue the production and Valensia got 100% artistic license. Pim Koopman would later say:

"It was unheard of. No debuting artist gets 100% artistic licence but our philosophy was: If we're going to do this, we're doing this to the hilt. Which means all wishes of the artist will be catered to."

Phonogram green-lighted the production of Gaia and they spared no expense from this moment onwards. Valensia then brought in his famous aunt Emmy Verhey to play the violin solo. Up until the design of the CD single Valensia had the final saying and in November 1993, "Gaia" was released, shooting to the top of the Dutch charts, only to be held off the number one position by Meat Loaf's come back single "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" Valensiamania occurred overnight in times where regal pop stars had become unfashionable but Gaia superseded fashion in the Netherlands of 1993. A disc jockey noticed he was flipping between radio stations and hearing Gaia being played simultaneously on almost all stations. Since Dutch pop group Doe Maar there never had been a true pop idol and Valensia was the new pop idol par excellence. In just a matter of days fans had gathered with sleeping bags in front of his parent's house, waiting to catch a glimpse of the new pop icon.

TV debut (1993)

Valensia and Emmy Verhey
Valensia with his aunt Emmy Verhey at The Postcode Loterij Show, January 1994
Valensia with his aunt Emmy Verhey at The Postcode Loterij Show, January 1994

Valensia made his television debut doing the Postcode Loterij Show hosted by Pernille la Lau, with Emmy Verhey, a session band and a children's choir, playbacking "Gaia". Next, he performed "Gaia" on the TV Show hosted by Ivo Niehe. The next performance would have been The Vijf Uur Show but Valensia was reluctant to perform there, since the audience mostly consisted of elderly ladies seated on tables, stating he would "feel ridiculous". A&R manager van der Zwan agreed it wasn't the right platform for a song like "Gaia". In 1994 there weren't any other TV shows to do. It was strongly advised not to appear on Dutch festivals as Valensia probably would become the target of objects thrown by the grunge and pogo type of audience, leaving him to do radio shows only.

Bidding war (1994)

Valensia
Taken from the Niels van Iperen/Valensia photoshoot in 1995
Taken from the Niels van Iperen/Valensia photoshoot in 1995

Phonogram only had offered Valensia a 4-song deal and now was looking at a situation where Valensia had become the biggest Dutch pop artist with his debut single, having hits in Israel, Greece and Italy. A bidding war between all major record companies started, once word got out Valensia technically was a free agent now.EMI outbid Sony Music, offering him Hfl. 175.000 signing fee plus a Hfl. 350.000 advance. Valensia wanted to sign up with EMI and was determined to do so. Pim Koopman said:

"That's the game. If they wanted to have Valensia, they should have offered him a contract for a full album. Good for him."

Phonogram director Jan Corduwener visited Valensia's home in Waalwijk (he was still living with his parents at that time) to try and convince him to stay. At the end, it was Sonneveld who kept Valensia in the Phonogram catalogue. Valensia agreed under the condition of adding a Key Man's Clause in the agreement: He would remain with Phonogram provided they guaranteed there would be no change of A&R management.

Valensia recalled:

"I knew the stories about A&R managers changing. A new one is installed and surpluses the old acts."

Phonogram didn't add the key man's clause but it was a handshake deal. Unfortunately, things happened as Valensia had predicted: As soon as the agreement was signed, Phonogram released a statement that A&R van der Zwan would be leaving Phonogram. According to Valensia, the Dutch Calvinistic narrative is "Act normal: that's crazy enough" dictated the Dutch would refrain from idolizing their own artists but, as with pop group Doe Maar, the opposite proved to be true: Valensia couldn't leave his house without bodyguards, had to have shops closed in order for him to enter.

In March 1994, Valensia heard he had achieved overnight stardom in Japan that same month. His debut album was released in 27 countries, some of which he never knew he was a superstar, such as Russia. Even at his thirtieth birthday, Valensia discovered there was an entire hotel chain in Armenia named after him, bearing his logo.

Many groups, especially choirs, have since covered "Gaia" agreeing the song is very difficult to perform. In the Netherlands, many conservatories and music schools have taken Gaia as a study case for composing and arranging. Valensia noted:

"It has always been one of the biggest honors. Yet, it's odd knowing I was urged to go to the conservatoire, likely unlearning all what enabled me to compose Gaia. What I have learned is that there's nothing worse for a composer than to analyze what you're doing. It's like closing the funnel that feeds you the ideas: the more I learned, the harder it became to simply get ideas. The true art is simply write and never analyze what you did."

The use of the name Gaia was popularized by Valensia, especially in New Age circles. It is also estimated over 500 girls in the Netherlands are named after Valensia's song.

The first Dutch CGI video (1994)

In Dutch fashion, budget for a video clip became available when Gaia already was a hit. Phonogram brought in various concept designers and settled for Czar productions. Valensia had storyboarded a version of him performing by all iconic monuments of the world, such as the Great Pyramid, The Taj Mahal or the Chinese wall.

In an Amsterdam meeting, the directors of Czar laid out their conceptual art mood boards: A black and white video of a bedridden, elderly lady being treated by a nurse. Valensia needed no explanation that the elderly lady represented the world. There also was a chessboard concept, where Valensia would be a chess piece. Valensia recalls:

"Life is just a "game of chess". You know: leftist cabaret."

Valensia declined all concepts, until Czar came up with the concept of making the very first Dutch 3D animation video. Van der Zwan recalls:

"This was 1994, meaning we had about this huge room with rows of 40 big computers rendering day and night: it was quite a spectacular sight."

Valensia, in a huge and freezing warehouse in the industrial area outside Amsterdam, was having problems with the art department, who wanted to dress him in a seaweed costume and a Baron von Munchausen outfit, complemented with a Salvador Dali mustache. Phonogram had to intervene when Valensia requested a heater as it was a little over zero in the warehouse and got into a serious row with the producers when they said:

"Come on, aren't you a healthy Dutch lad?"

Temperature-sensitive Valensia fell ill during the most hectic promotional week.

The videoclip was received with mixed emotions. Valensia recalls:

"I really liked the shot of me playing a white, grand piano on some sort of column, while lightning flashed between a pyramid city below. I thought that was extremely well done. I just don't get the bold men and the flying omelets."

MTV Grand Prix Nomination (1994)

Valensia 1994
Valensia in Spain, photographed for his first INROCK magazine interview in july 1994
Valensia in Spain, photographed for his first INROCK magazine interview in july 1994

The Gaia videoclip was nominated for MTV's alternative for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest: the MTV Grand Prix Awards. Valensia was invited for an interview via phone with MTV London during the broadcast of the show. The show was on 30 April 1994, on Dutch Queens Day. MTV headquarters was located right next to the Dam, meaning Valensia had to cross a huge crowd on the Dam in Amsterdam to reach it. Valensia's requested safe guidance through the mob but this was rejected. Crossing the sea of people he still got spat on, kicked, beaten and insulted. Inside the Amsterdam MTV building the atmosphere turned grim when Valensia entered with Phonogram's international manager Marcel Gelderblom. There were about ten reporters who despised Valensia. Valensia recalled: "Where I walked, these Che Guevara t-shirts wearing people started rioting. The press hated my guts and I couldn't understand why that was. In retrospect, it was a political struggle. Not to me but to them."

Valensia was interviewed by MTV host Paul King, dripping from human saliva and pieces of apple in his hair. Valensia was supposed to answer to King's question how the mood was: "We are having a party!", but instead said: "We're seriously counting the votes". In the hallway, a journalist hissed to Valensia: "You capitalist scum". Valensia, 23 years old, didn't understand what the journalist was referring to. He and the Phonogram assistant left prior to the ending of the show, which ended up in a heated debate about taking English classes with the assistant because Valensia mispronounced the word "debut", which has a silent T. Gaia didn't win the MTV Grand Prix.

"Gaia" the song**

Gaia single
gaiathesong.jpg
"Gaia" The most expensive CD single edition ever printed in The Netherlands

The lyrics mostly have been interpreted as environmentalist and Christian. "Every way leads to heaven" and "We need a hand from above" seem to be directly referring to religious concepts. Although Valensia never has denied this, he did add that the first line of "Gaia" implies "Every religion is the same." ("I know He has many names.") meaning God can be Buddha, Allah or any name mankind has given to their concept of God.

The line of the bridge ("Who's going to judge the world when a crime has been done by the world itself") indicates there is a power higher than men who will judge the right or wrongdoing of men.

The lyrics of "Gaia" are warning against the consequences of a human-destroyed environment, though approach it from a totally different angle. The Gaia theory suggests that the world is an organism, and therefore will react with natural disasters to wipe itself clean, prior to being polluted far before the point of no return. Valensia adds:

"I am basically an environmentalist, however I know our planet is exposed to a cosmic environment with its own laws. Volcanic eruptions release large quantities of greenhouse gases. An asteroid impact can sterilize this planet drop of a hat. The Earth’s recent global warming may be due to human activities from burning fossil fuels. According to the Gaia theory, the Earth has ways to respond to such threats, meaning it won't be the end of the world but it might be the end of humanity, unless we find alternatives."

That's what the "unless" means at the end of the song.

The song is written in C minor, with its bridge in A minor and its chorus in D major, making its basics very standard. The way the chords follow up are extremely unconventional, going off the grid within the verse at (I know He has many names), going from C sharp to A minor and repeating this maneuver once again to conclude in the song's into chords, to land at the C minor chord again, concluding the verse's cycle.

The way of placing unusual chord progressions under a simple and conventional sounding melody line is very rarely used, especially in pop songs. The chorus of Gaia is a D major, descending 4 semitones per bar 6 times before landing on F sharp major, jumping to B minor, then pausing at G minor, to return to D. The repeat of the chorus rolls up instead of down but intercepts perfectly with the G to conclude the chorus in B flat, finishing in D again.

Gaia's chorus is a perfect example of a newly invented standard for a chorus. Where there are literally millions of songs written, using the standard four chords C - A minor - F - G, Valensia used a standard he structured himself.

Bringing in Valensia's aunt Emmy Verhey to play the lead solo on the instrumental segments gave an amazing power to these sections, giving the entire song an extra lift.

The most intriguing part of Gaia's structuring is the unique transposing of the last chorus, of which the first half is played with a Bach trumpet with its own melody line. According to Pim Koopman, he was baffled when he was writing down the score for the Metropole orchestra to play "Gaia":

"To be writing, expecting the song to be transposed upwards, probably a full interval, maybe two, and then noticing the song actually goes downwards. I thought: "What is happening here?" For a moment it felt like the laws of musical physics were violated! Then I figured out how he did it."

The miracle of Valensia's transposition is that it suggests to go upwards, where in reality the interval goes a semitone downwards. It occurs at the moment the harmony vocals repeat the words "All on my own". When reaching F sharp, the chords go from A to B to D flat for the final chorus: a semitone lower. This enabled Valensia to finish the song in a conventional E major. To get there, a second unique standard was written for the softer segment of the song.

A standard becomes a standard when it's repeatable:

C sharp minor - G sharp minor - A major - E major -F sharp - Cis sharp minor - D major - A major (to be repeated, landing on C sharp minor, and so forth).

The melody line is simple (our youth has a few words to say, maybe they know we wiped their future away) and there's no feel of any excessive usage of chords.

The third remarkable feature of Gaia's structure is the combining of two lead vocal parts within the same standard. Valensia's lead sings (Whatever we do, chances are few: every way leads to heaven.) Then a second lead comes in, singing a totally different lead melody, performed by a children's choir (And we all want a better place but we got to let it go, let it go.). According to Koopman the two melodies did not interfere with each other but rather complemented each other:

"That's just a thing which occurs once in a blue moon. This was divine perfection: every note placed exactly where it was supposed to be. That, to me, is genius composing."

Valensia always joked about it:

"I just had two pieces, liked them and just threw both of them in, hoping for the best."

He would later add:

"It basically happened as I said. I most certainly didn't plan this note for note. It just happened to fit extremely well. That level of composing is achieved by playing the chords, then stop playing and then listen very carefully to what you hear somewhere in your head. It's almost a form of meditation. No mind, no composing, only listening. Sometimes you'll hear it. It becomes difficult once you realise it was meditation. Then you try - and fail."

According to Valensia a song like Gaia is the result of enjoying the craft of songwriting. There are many references to many pieces of songs Valensia knew and wove these bits into the song. From an Alice Cooper solo (Poison) to The Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever, while Mecano's Hijo De La Luna served as the main inspiration for the song. Valensia has said in many interviews:

"I was 18 when I wrote Gaia, I had no idea where I was going with it and most certainly no idea it would become a classic. Had I known, I'd probably changed a few notes and words. What pleases me is that I added new chord standards that are unique. The greatest thrill is not being aware of it when composing, except for the feeling "this is sounding nice"."

Management

The Wisseloord Studios, Studio 2
Valensia and producer John Sonneveld during the Tango Tamara sessions, June 1993
Valensia and producer John Sonneveld during the Tango Tamara sessions, June 1993

In May 1994 as Universal Holland (then Phonogram Holland) was monetarily managing Valensia, a very unorthodox situation in the music industry. While negotiating with Whitney Houston's manager Clive Davis to become Valensia's manager, Valensia was offered a 4 nights string of live concerts in the Rotterdam Ahoy, by Mojo Concerts, an offer halted by Universal Holland. This led to a first disagreement between Valensia and now Phonogram's director Jan Corduwener, known as "the man who took David Bowie abroad".

Valensia objected to the strategy of starting small but gave in and stopped rehearsals for the Ahoy shows. Then Phonogram invoked an "anti-over exposure act" for Valensia, meaning all promotional activities were halted to prevent a so-called "over-exposure" of the artist. Valensia strenuously opposed and the infamous brawl followed, when Valensia said: "You realize you just ended my career, right?" He would later write the song Holland (Legacy, 2014) about this Dutch phenomenon. In this song Valensia refers amongst other things to the 1990 FIFA World Cup, when the unbeatable Dutch team including AC Milan's Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard turned into a demotivated and disillusioned team when politics halted legendary soccer player Johan Cruijff as national coach, to be replaced, against the will of the players, by Leo Beenakker. Valensia has said in several interviews:

"This is Calvinistic Netherlands. There's all that amazing talent out there but the policymakers insist on screwing it all up at the moment you're winning."

With all interviews and shows being halted, Valensia flew to his family residence in Spain in July 1994 to write new material for the upcoming album and would remain in Spain. According to Valensia, it wasn't the stardom which he avoided but rather the nuisances of the people having to deal with his stardom which made him leave the Netherlands.

"The Sun" (1994)

The Sun
Valensia's second single released in February 1994
Valensia's second single released in February 1994

When Valensia's second single "The Sun" was released, he received heavy criticism after his appearance on the Dutch 5 Uur Show when he, now at the height of his Dutch career, for the first time performed without a piano but singing and dancing in front of a microphone stand in a Michael Jackson type of style. Only a few years later many artists like Justin Timberlake would incorporate the Jackson moves into their dancing styles but in 1994 this caused a nation-wide controversy. Valensia was summoned to a meeting at Phonogram to be grilled by the staff. Pim Koopman said:

"I had people walking out on me during that show! I don't think it is the end of your career but it was a close call."

It was decided that Valensia should refrain from any dance moves and Phonogram ordered any TV programmer to only film Valensia in extreme close-up. Valensia was now accompanied by two assistants to make sure this wouldn't occur again. Valensia would later say:

"The whole world was caught up in that Chandler Vs Jackson allegation case. I thought the reaction was overly aggressive. In Japan, there was no problem whatsoever."

The Edison (1994)

The Edison Award
Edison Award
Valensia's 1994 Edison Award

Valensia winning the Dutch Edison Award at the age of 23 caused some controversy during the award show. Dutch guitarist Harry Sacksoni criticized the jury for giving Valensia an Edison Award that early in his career during his acceptance speech and this was cut out of the show's broadcast. A behind-the-show brawl between Sacksioni and Valensia occurred when Sacksoni approached Valensia, saying: "First make a decent career for yourself", to which Valensia replied: "First write a decent song".

The White Album (1994)

The White Album
White Album
Valensia - The White Album, 1994

Because of the amazing success in Japan, Universal Japan requested a mini album which they would call The White Album. It should feature at least one Queen cover song and 5 new Valensia songs. Universal Holland and the producers were against the Queen cover idea as Valensia was heavily criticised in The Netherlands for being a Queen imitation and exploiting Freddie Mercury's death. Queen was a very popular band in Japan, having experienced their first big success abroad the U.K. in Japan, who rather saw Valensia as the new artist they fully embraced, instead of a musical resurrectionist. Phonogram halted the Queen cover and let Valensia record Duran Duran's A View To A Kill instead, much to the Japanese company's dismay. According to Valensia, Phonogram's decision rendered the idea of a cover obsolete.

He hastened to prepare the songs for this album, using mostly songs from his 1988 album he never made.

Back in the studio, Valensia now was held in highest regards and was pampered with the most exclusive foods and was catered to his every wish, as American-inspired studio tradition dictated back in the early nineties. Alides Hidding from The Time Bandits came over to have a chat with the producers about his new demos, during dinner. According to Valensia, the response of the producers wasn't overly enthusiastic. Valensia recalls:

"That used to occur more often. I was the big star now but that's an image I still remember: one day I'll be standing there as an ex-pop star."

K.O.S.M.O.S. (1995)

K.O.S.M.O.S.
K.O.S.M.O.S.
Valensia - K.O.S.M.O.S. (1996)

In 1995 Valensia was back in the studio to record his second album K.O.S.M.O.S., an abbreviation of a seemingly Dutch sentence which Valensia never has commented on but indicates a disagreement between him and Universal Holland.

The atmosphere was tense during the production of K.O.S.M.O.S. and Valensia initially was sent back to Spain by his producers after they listened to the demos of "The Mercurian Mystery March I", "The Mercurian Mystery March II", "Waltz Of The World" (in 1998 recorded in order to get a recording deal for "V"), "Phantom Of The Opera" (in 2000 recorded for the 4th album "Gaia II") and "Holland" (in 2014 recorded for the 6th album "Legacy") Valensia had written the tracks mainly for Japan, knowing they were waiting for a Queen-styled rock album and was extremely agitated not being allowed to record his tracks. For K.O.S.M.O.S., mostly ballad-type songs were allowed, to great dismay of Universal Japan delegates, who had flown over to listen to the finished K.O.S.M.O.S. tracks in the Wisseloord Studios. Valensia walked out in the middle of the listening-session, watching the Japanese delegates' disappointment. Later, the Japanese product manager confirmed he had hoped for a rock album but decided to promote K.O.S.M.O.S. in Japan either way, since Valensia was a huge name now. In August 1996 a Japanese promotional tour of 16 days was done, to be followed with a series of concerts in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka. Because Valensia has been introduced as a 3D animated artist, the Japanese audience were extremely excited knowing Valensia was a real artist and both tours were overwhelmingly successful.

Japan K.O.S.M.O.S. Promotion Tour (1996)

Valensia in Japan 1996
Valensia at ZIP FM in Nagoya, August 1996
Valensia at ZIP FM in Nagoya, August 1996

In August, Valensia visited Japan for his 16 days scheduled promotion tour. Flown in on the upper deck executive class of the Japan Airlines jumbo jet was the first of exceptional gestures from Universal Japan. It was two years after the height of his fame but still he was welcomed by hundreds of fans at the airport. This was also arranged by the A&R manager of Universal Japan, Tami Fukatami, who had arranged buses to have the fans transported to Narita International Airport, located about 60 kilometers from Tokyo.

When visiting Nagoya, Valensiamania was still raging and the record company had to hire two extra bodyguards to protect him from the predominantly female fans, some armed with scissors to cut off a piece of his long hair. There was an incident when leaving an Osaka in-store event when Valensia got swarmed by too many fans, one of them cutting his neck with her scissors by accident, as she was pushed by the crowd. Valensia calls this "his favorite scar".

With his first single "K.O.S.M.O.S." at number 1 on most of the Japanese charts and second single "Thunderbolt" just released, all instore events were jam-packed by a multitude of fans, at times a security staff of ten to fifteen people were busy keeping Valensia clear from girls who at times fought themselves free to be able to touch him. Even from within the inner-circle girls applied for the makeup job in order to get close to Valensia. He was praised by the record company for his stamina during the extremely tight schedule. Valensia recalls:

"I was hailed as a king and pampered like a baby. I honestly enjoyed every minute of it and because of the fans there's this adrenaline rush going on that keeps you going. Japan actually transcended all I had seen from my idols. It was a continuous flow of admiration, attention and pampering. Japan gave me back the sparkle in the eyes I had lost since the car accident. For that I'm eternally grateful."

Valensia visited Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka, returning to Tokyo at the end of the tour. It was one of the most extensive promotional tours ever done, considering Valensia would return to Japan in October 1996 for the actual live shows. He was given a first prototype of Valensia's signature model guitar during a meeting with his endorser Fernandes Guitars.

Valensia's Unicorn Guitar

Unicorn Guitar
Unicorn Guitar
Front and back of the "The Turquoise Unicorn"

Prior to the promotional tour, one of the world's leading guitar manufacturers Fernandes offered Valensia the opportunity to design a guitar according to his wishes and specs. Valensia designed the Fernandes model called "The Unicorn". Only 3 guitars have been built; The Turquoise Unicorn, The Orange Unicorn and The White Unicorn. What distinguishes the Valensia Unicorn from all other guitars is its cut away neck, enabling you to reach to the highest regions without your thumb bumping into the joint. The guitar is mainly held by its "unicorn". Valensia's Blue 1996 Unicorn was one of the first guitars to be permanently equipped with the Fernandes Sustainer, It consists of an electronic circuit that takes the signal from a standard guitar pickup, amplifies it, and feeds it back into a separate pickup coil, causing the string to resonate infinitely. Now a "household" device, used by the greatest guitarists in the world, such as Steve Vai, Neil Schon and U2's The Edge. Returning to the Netherlands in September 1996, Valensia had to prepare his live shows in all haste, realising he had never performed live as a lead singer. After the canceling of the 1994 Ahoy shows, Valensia was warned not to play any Dutch live shows as it was predicted it would be a beer-fest and maybe too dangerous because of the aggressive Dutch crowds during the early nineties, crossing over from the hair bands to the grunge-era.

Valensia had great difficulties assembling a band on such short notice. He approached guitarist Marcel Signor and drummers John Snels and Juan van Emmerloot as he wanted his backing band to be good-looking: a request from Japan as well. However, the record company took over and appointed Hans Eijkenaar, according to Valensia possibly the best drummer in Holland, to recruit and coordinate the band. Valensia invested the $50,000 fee he would receive in hiring a part of Michael Jackson's lightshow, which was said to him still was in Japan as Jackson just finished the Asian leg of his HIStory tour. Looking at the HIStory 1996 tour dates, Jackson was touring in Russia, Poland and Spain, meaning Valensia was tricked out of his fee by Universal Holland, using the house stage lights for his Far East tour after all. Eijkenaar recruited guitarist Age Kat, bassplayer Lené Te Voortwis and keyboardists Coen van Baal and Ronald Kool.

During the first rehearsal in Amsterdam tensions between Valensia and Kat rose when Valensia strapped on his Fernandes Unicorn and Kat commented: "First thing I would do is sawing that piece off". Valensia responded by firing Kat, being sick and tired of the Dutch critique but Eijkenaar intervened and Kat stayed on. Eijkenaar and Valensia hired Wisseloord Studios for a few days to prepare the slaves for the live shows, as it was impossible to perform a song like Gaia without an orchestra.

Michael Jackson (1996)

Michael Jackson and Valensia
Michael Jackson and Valensia in the Grand Hotel in 1996
Michael Jackson and Valensia in the Grand Hotel in 1996

Michael Jackson happened to be in the Wisseloord Studios in September, remixing his new track "Blood On The Dancefloor" while Valensia was preparing his live support tapes. The Wisseloord catering girls and Valensia had gotten close friends over the years and they suggested setting up a meeting between Michael Jackson and Valensia, which was difficult as part of the studio was hermetically sealed. Valensia rejected it as he found it awkward meeting Jackson as a fan. The studio manager however arranged a meeting in The Grand Hotel, Amsterdam, going around Jackson's Dutch agent. At 10 pm Valensia arrived at The Grande and was taken up to Jackson's suite. Jackson had just finished his Japanese leg of the HIStory tour in Japan and apparently was informed about Valensia as the new star who resembled the legendary icon. It wasn't until 2019 Valensia gave an exclusive interview about the secret meeting with Michael Jackson in the Netherland's biggest magazine De Prive, to defend Jackson against the shockumentary Leaving Neverland, which he found appalling.

Valensia revealed he had spoken to Jackson till about 6 AM about all sorts of topics minus music. Valensia called the allegations wildly exaggerated, fabricated lies to, as usual, make a small fortune. To defend Jackson Valensia talked about Jackson's plans to expose various pedophilia networks, who had tried to make Jackson an affiliate. Jackson had declined and declared war against these organisations. In Valensia's fashion, the story got immensely big overnight but was halted by the biggest press organisation for unknown reasons. Valensia says:

"I wasn't too pure about the relationship with Jackson: even I wanted to be in his inner-circle and wanted us to become close friends. Michael had no filters, just like me. Whenever the discussion was about him, he would talk for hours about anything. And I wanted to show how bloody loyal I was: No one except for my mother knew about this meeting. I had sworn. But just because Jackson would think: "Hey, here's a guy I can fully trust. I'll invite him to Neverland". So looking back, I was working with a double agenda as well: i wanted him to be my friend."

Jackson never called Valensia after their meeting.

"My star was on the rise but it faded like he was fading. I don't think he was interested. When he died, my world collapsed for several days. And I'll never know what got to him. I knew he could be very persuasive, I could see a situation where he just demanded Propofol. Insomnia drives you crazy. But then again, I'll always be in doubt what really happened there."

The Valensia Far East Tour (1996)

Valensia live
Valensia performing live at the Akasaka Blitz in Tokyo, October 1996
Valensia performing live at the Akasaka Blitz in Tokyo, October 1996

The two nights in the Akasaka BLITZ (赤坂BLITZ) were sold out and arriving at the venue, Valensia discovered he never looked at the stage riders: the floor of the stage was covered with rubber anti-skid squares. This meant he couldn't do any dance moves as these require a smooth surface. It was impossible to change them at such short notice. During the sound check, Valensia quickly practiced with a gravity microphone stand and trying to keep his microphone away from the floor monitors to prevent feedback. Valensia explained in the Japanese INROCK magazine: "I never held a microphone in my hands. It's unheard of to play such huge shows while having rehearsed on stage only 2 nights, without no experience whatsoever. The show tonight will be my like my first gig in a club as a lead singer."

About 10 minutes prior to the show, road manager Jan Abbink walked into Valensia's dressing room, asking if he was up to do this. According to Jan Abbink, he'd peaked from the wings and he noticed this wasn't a festival crowd but a hall packed with an audience with exclusively Valensia fans. Valensia recalls:

"I could handle the crowd, in fact I've always loved it. I hated my inexperience though."

For Valensia it was a winning game though. Every move he made on stage was adored and cheered by the fans. With the addition of Michael Jackson's lightshow it was a spectacular performance, especially when Valensia did his guitar solo, surprising both his audience as well as Universal and Fernandes.

Guitar Piano Playing Style

Valensia
Valensia
Valensia playing guitar live with his "Guitar Piano Playing" style

Valensia gained a lot of attention with his amazing guitar skills. As a crossing of Eddie van Halen and Steve Vai he was a very experienced live performer. Jan Abbink recalls:

"There was this act built in by Valensia we never saw him do during the rehearsals. He would unstrap his guitar and toss it on the ground, kneel down in front of it, and start playing it with both hands as if it was a piano. I've seen top guitarists do it as a show element but Valensia could actually play it. This I've never seen before."

Valensia uses a technique called "hammer on" but uses it in a different way. He uses 4 fingers of his right hand and three fingers of his left hand while both hover above the fretboard. He uses the way the guitar is tuned (Standard guitar tuning: E-A-D-G-B-E) as root notes to play arpeggios with both hands, creating a third "free" note which is the root note. Valensia has the technique to hit a loose string, usually the low E, unstrap the guitar and place the guitar on stage, while the sustaining E string, as well as the other 5 strings, remain untouched: the slightest bump will cause the string to stop vibrating or other strings to vibrate, so this has to be executed very precisely.

The Far East Tour was a huge success and Valensia was offered to score music for Mitshubishi Motors. When a delegate of the company met with Valensia backstage, offering him the job just 15 minutes prior to go on stage, he asked when Valensia would be able to do this. Valensia replied:

"What about now? I got nothing to do at the moment."

The tour concluded with a wild after-party with the entire crew and band getting drunk. Valensia recalls:

"I don't drink so I must be the only one who remembers that night. I do remember walking into the lobby of the hotel with a Japanese girl when I saw two sneakers sticking out of a planter with an amazingly beautiful Bonsai tree in it. Attached to those sneakers appeared to be a totally passed out Hans Eijkenaar. Not really aware our plane was about to leave in 3 hours."

Valensia as well as the band and crew were in ecstasy, although most of them completely hung over when saying goodbye to Japan, leaving from Osaka's Kansai airport. During the drive to the airport, Valensia had a long conversation with A&R Fukatami, explaining the K.O.S.M.O.S disappointment. Fukatami explained how he wanted a rock album and that he was working on something, not explaining what that was. Valensia's translator would later say Fukatami was negotiating with Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker to have him produce the third Valensia album.

Valensia recalls:

"The ways of the Japanese are very appealing. There's this kind of magic in the air. There's a special way they treat you as an artist or musician. Once you leave, you leave enchanted and infatuated, having fallen in love with the country. I saw this happen to many bands. Although Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai was filmed in New Zealand, it's a movie which perfectly captures the way I feel about Japan. I found peace and stilness of the mind there. It's hard to say goodbye every time."

When Valensia returned to the Netherlands, the Universal A&R manager Marcel Gelderblom invited him and the band to a luxurious Japanese restaurant but didn't show up himself, leaving Valensia to pick up the hefty tab. He then proposed a series of joint live shows with the relatively unknown singer Joep Koelewijn, upon which Valensia canceled the idea to perform live in the Netherlands altogether. Valensia stated many times:

"In the Netherlands you have to redeem yourself from this kind of success. They'll either ignore or down-play it while they celebrate your next door neighbor kind of artist, like Guus Meeuwis or Marco Borsato. It took me years to understand this is part of socialism. Socialism and showbusiness don't go together very well - unless it's Joe Public you put on stage. That's why I always leave."

Southern East Asia (1997)

Valensia live
Valensia in Osaka, Japan, during the 1999 V-Tour
Valensia in Osaka, Japan, during the 1999 V-Tour

Returning to Spain Valensia got word he was placed in the B category of Universal's artists stable. Valensia, driven by the huge success in Japan, again had an argument with the company's international division, wondering why all national and international promotion had halted. Upon hearing "There's no interest" he travelled to Malaysia to meet with his aunt Jillian, who was running the then-booming entertainment company Articulate.

Valensia and Jillian consequently flew to each Universal branch in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and The Philippines to negotiate deals for each territory.

The Malaysian Universal branche turned down Valensia because the Gaia video featured a cross, which posed a problem for the Muslim country. But in Thailand, director Jerry Simms signed up Valensia to release The Very Best Of Valensia album (1998). In Indonesia, director Haris Effendi signed up Valensia after Jillian took Haris and Valensia to a dance club, where Valensia improvised a Queen-medley for a surprised crowd. Effendi asked Valensia to write a song especially for Indonesia, "like Extreme's More Than Words". According to Jillian, "Valensia asked her for a pen and a napkin on the plane back to Kuala Lumpur. I said: "What are you doing?". He replied: "Writing the song, dear"." The next evening, Valensia was recording the new song in the famous Synchro Sound Studios and recorded a video clip there, directed by Jillian's husband Floris Leenen. Jillian commented:

"It all happened at the speed of light. I booked the studio and two days later I sent the completed master of both the song and video clip to Haris. He was so pleased with it, he instantly released it, giving Valensia his first number 1 hit in Indonesia. It was incredible."

This marked the first time Valensia was met with company politics and conflicts. By enforcing fame and a number one position in Indonesia and success in Thailand, Valensia had disgraced the international division of Universal Holland. When informing the manager of Universal's international division of the number one hit, he refused to put Valensia through to the CEO of Universal, which ended in a brawl over the phone.

Jillian recalls: I remember standing in the kitchen of our house in Kuala Lumpur, listening to Valensia shout over the phone:

"I invested a fortune to make money for your bloody company!' Later I learned Universal already had written him off. Then comes Valensia with a number one hit. That's inconvenient."

Valensia flew back to the Netherlands with a self-endorsed number one hit, costing him nearly 100.000 euros, wanting to send a clear message to his record company but not realising he was already out of the game, all budget now reallocated to new promising acts André Rieu and Jantje Smit. Valensia would later comment:

"I should have known as it said so in the memo. They were categorized as A artists along with Elton John, Bon Jovi and Metallica. I was up there with the B artists with names like Tara or Zara and acts I'd never even heard of. That's how major companies 'surplused' their acts. I just wished they told me. I would have gone jet-skiing instead."

The third album (1998)

Valensia III
Valensia III
Valensia - Valensia III (1998)

Valensia had a 5-year running exclusive artist agreement with Universal while being surplused. It obliged them to fund the third album of Valensia, who now wanted to write exclusively for Japan and Southern East territory only.

Former international manager Marcel Gelderblom became Valensia's new Artist and Repertoire manager. Gelderblom wasn't agreeing with Valensia's plan, saying he wanted to make an album for the Netherlands as well, holding back Valensia from returning to the studio until he would come up with songs in the vein of Alanis Morrisette or other popular artists defining the sound of the nineties. Valensia wrote the songs and spent the rest of the winter building a flight simulator.

Studio access denied

Valensia in cockpit
Valensia in cockpit
Valensia in cockpit on an Alicante - Amsterdam flight

As an aviation-enthusiast and a known person he knew most of Transavia captains, flying almost exclusively as a pseudo deadhead in the cockpit, thanks to now-retired captain Jo Schoenmaker and strangely, the late artist Sugar Lee Hooper who shared an Alicante-bound flight with Valensia, spending the entire flight in the cockpit. Valensia says:

"My eyes weren't good enough plus I got mild dyscalculia: I never will be a pilot. But I learned how to fly a 737 by captains and co-pilots kindly explaining to me every button and switch, and I got Sugar Lee to thank."

On an Iberia flight, the captain let Valensia take some measurements of the cockpit and started building a flight simulator, waiting for the record company to book the studio. According to Valensia, this was the first time he began thinking of measuring up Wisseloord's studio 1 control room, to build a replica of the studio itself.

It resulted in the constructing of an exact replica of the Wisseloord Studios control room in 2006. When Valensia's first A&R manager Herman van der Zwan first entered the control room in 2016, he said:

"It's like stepping into a time machine and traveling back to the early nineties."

Valensia studio
Valensia studio
Valensia studio, Dénia, Alicante, Spain

1997 marked the end of Valensia's career at Universal. When he was finally granted access to the studio, the budget was tighter. Producer Pim Koopman couldn't join the team and a large part of the pre-production of the album was done in John Sonneveld's studio within the Wisseloord Studio complex.

Quite a few false starts were made, including the idea by Marcel Gelderblom to have a Valensia Ft. Arnhemsgewijs single. Both Sonneveld and Valensia didn't understand the idea but went along with it. Initially Universal had tried having a rapper writing the lyrics for a song but couldn't agree on whether it should be an East coast or West coast rapper. The song was recorded but no one had taken into account the rappers from Arnhemsgewijs sang in Dutch. Valensia said:

"I think nobody knows about the Valensia Ft. Arnhemsgewijs idea. The guys were really great guys, but collectively we were all thinking: "What are we doing here?""

Valensia only sang the chorus, similar to the Joni Mitchell sample on Janet Jackson's 1997 hit Got Till It's Gone. Valensia loathed the Jackson song as well as his own song but it was the only way to remain in the studio.

Tensions rose when Sonneveld suggested guitarist Lex Bolderdijk to play some tracks, which highly infuriated Valensia, shouting:

"What possibly would a fucking sessie musician add, a guitarist, mind you, what I can't play with one fucking hand?!"

Valensia also recorded his Alanis Morrisette styled songs Do You Feel Okay Now, Let's Talk About Me, The 1st One together with Hans Eijkenaar and Marcel van Schie and the songs were sent to Universal Japan, who responded with an enraged e-mail, wondering "what the hell Valensia thought he was doing".

Valensia recalls:

"They didn't know I was forced by Gelderblom. They absolutely hated it. Rap wasn't even a thing in Japan. Alanis wasn't that big either.
Universal Holland refused to release the album. When the A&R manager asked what kind of music they wanted, they said: "Valensia music". That I rather enjoyed."

But this just frustrated the Dutch record company even further, refusing to give more studio time to record Valensia songs. At the end even the Valensia-funded "The Beating Of My Heart" was included on the album to save money.

The biggest setback Valensia faced was that he had lost Roy Thomas Baker as a potential producer.

Tensions rose even further when Valensia, who lost his USA deal to Ace Of Base in 1994, when Sonneveld told Valensia during dinner that Dutch female rock icon Anouk was about to travel to New York to sign a million dollar deal and Valensia, losing his USA deal to Ace Of Base in 1994 advised Anouk's team to proceed very cautiously. According to Valensia, Sonneveld responded extremely condescending to his advice, saying:

"I'm sorry but Anouk is on quite another level then you are."

Valensia recalls:

"It was a very humiliating remark. I only wanted to advise. I never fucking cried. I cried that day… Anyway, I read she fucked the US deal up herself, being drunk. I was right: Bless her."

Universal Holland decided not to release Valensia's album at all, much to Conamus chairman Jerney Kaagman's dismay, advising Valensia to sue Universal. While Universal Japan did release Valensia's third album but didn't promote it, strongly disagreeing with the tracklist which consisted of Valensia song pur sang like Gantenbrink, Love Me and Millennium, the songs the Dutch forced onto the album an only one song A&R Fukatami requested, this being the rocker Dead Or Alive.

"Rebellious"

Valensia 1994
Valensia in his Home Studio in Waalwijk, 1994
Valensia in his Home Studio in Waalwijk, 1994

Interview with Henk Van der Meijden

Phonogram had prohibited Valensia from doing interviews with big tabloids during the period 1993–1998.

He now deliberately gave an exclusive interview to the notorious Dutch journalist Henk van der Meijden for his Prive page in the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. He did so to prove the so-called serious pop magazines were more gossipy and prone to twist the truth than the so-called gossip magazines themselves. Valensia and Van der Meijden met in the Kurhaus, Scheveningen, Valensia's place of birth.

According to Valensia, Dutch pop magazines are "a bunch of frustrated musicians, whose only journalistic feature is projecting their own failure onto the interviewee". Van der Meijden indeed published Valensia's story accurately.

Valensia recalls:

"Henk van der Meijden was portrayed by the leftist socialists as The King Of Gossip. He's the sweetest guy ever, the first Dutch journalist to not approach me with that negative attitude, so what's going on there? Gossip magazines usually are right on the money, that's what I learned."

The Gouden Harpen Gala Incident (1998)

Valensia 'Silver Harp'
Valensia and Ad Visser at the 'Harpen Gala' 1994
Valensia and Ad Visser at the 'Harpen Gala' 1994

As a Silver Harp Award winner, Valensia attended the annual Harpen Gala 1998. A photographer was taking pictures of all Dutch celebrities walking in but halted taking pictures when Valensia walked in. At the party he was ignored and by the time the show started Valensia was so agitated he decided to entertain the guests seated around him by joking about the presentator Harm Eden's voice and the nominated artists, not realising Dutch TV moguls like John de Mol and Joop van den Ende were seated behind him. He was permanently banned from the gala.

Meanwhile, Valensia was invited to record a rendition of his new song Millennium for the Japanese ZIP FM Anniversary album, with new lyrics which should feature the radio station's credo "Only One, Only You": Valensia continued to be a successful pop icon in Japan but the plans for a tour were canceled.

Valensia recalls:

"They had this heavy rock album in mind, producer by Roy Thomas Baker. I don't blame them for canceling everything. They had nothing to work with."

Valensia had no further obligations and returned to Spain. Upon arrival, he received a call from Robby Valentine, proposing to start with the superband V they had planned, way back in 1992. Valensia immediately said yes, being tired of the solitude.

He had another album to make for Universal but Valentine's manager assured him this would be canceled without any problems. In the summer of 1998, Valensia let his contract declare null and void to focus on V.

"V" (1998)

V
V
Valensia and Valentine

"V" was meant to reunite two of the Netherlands biggest talents under the moniker of V. In reality it was Valentine's manager Willem de Bois' only option to get his artist signed to a major company again, thereby selling V to Universal under the condition Valentine would get a separate deal as well.

V got signed by recording Valensia's Mercurian Mystery March, Waltz Of The World and the Valensia/Valentine songs Free and Lion. V also recorded the song Holland but the song got canceled by Valentine prior to finishing it. Universal offered V a million dollar deal for 3 albums. The first sign something was off was when Valensia noted their supergroup V was booked as "Valentine" in the Wisseloord Studios, which led to some confusion as the studio staff assumed Valensia was a visitor or hired musician. Another problem was that legally Valensia longer was the owner of the masters since this was a licence deal.

The second sign was former director of the Wisseloord Studios, Bart Sloothaak, who always acted like a father figure for Valensia, knowing Valensia never had a management, brought him to his office and warned Valensia to "steer clear from those people".

After an attempt from the manager to get the full million dollars on their account, Valensia threatened to withdraw from the project altogether, if "things weren't divided equally".

The writing proved to be extremely problematic. Valensia recalls:

"We both were in a musical depression, watching the world around us loathing the kind of music we did. We should have recorded everything in Japan. Whenever there were girls asking for autographs, it turned out they didn't come for us but for our engineer Holger Schwett, because he was the producer of Postmen, a hip hop act. Universal Japan was expecting this over the top symphonic bombast, and we just couldn't do it in this state of mind. It was terrible."

Valentine indicated he wasn't up to write anything symphonic, or anything at all for that matter. By lack of a better idea, Valensia wrote most of the material. Valensia recalls:

"It was as if there was no animo to compose for V at all. I didn't understand the reluctance."

Of the 16 tracks from the V album he wrote 12 songs: Tokyo-kko, The Bell, The Internet, And When I See You (Renee Mon Amour), Email Baby, New Age Woman, All We Want Is A Little Bit o' Love, For Holland With Love, The Mercurian Mystery March, Waltz Of The World and As The World Goes 'Round. The song Free was based on Valensia's demo Phantom Of The Opera.

"V" Tour Japan (1999)

V
V
Valensia and Valentine performing live

Upon release of the V debut album, Valensia was approached by one of his Japanese fans, who had been interested in a concert booking agent to organize a V tour in Japan.

Preparations for the V tour started in the fall of 1999, with Valensia's school friend and old Mistress member, bass player Patrick Buys and drummer Juan van Emmerloot. It was agreed that instead of Valensia's live crew, Valentine's crew would be hired for the tour.

Valensia requested an extra week extension for promotional activities, so both artists flew to Japan one week earlier than the rest of the band, crew and personnel.

Upon arrival in the Roppongi hotel, there were no fans, nor any Universal staff, prompting Valensia to call the Japanese A&R manager. No promotion appeared to be arranged by Universal Japan, which infuriated Valensia to such an extent the A&R manager hastened to fill the week with promotional activities. Valensia recalls:

"I returned to Robby, telling him we would get the promotion after all but it would be too late. People won't even know we're here."

With the band and crew arriving, things turned grim for Valensia. Later he would learn the crew was informed by the Valentine management that Valensia should be taken out during the tour. Drummer Juan van Emmerloot would later confirm this, when Valensia was physically threatened by the crew and was placed in coach, alone in the tail of the plane to Holland, while the band and crew flew back first class, paid by Valensia.

During the entire tour, the crew had detuned Valensia's guitars, distorted his monitors on stage in order to disorient him tonal wise, tried to sabotage his endorsement with Fernandes and forced Valensia to the background, presenting Valentine as the frontman of the group and at the Nagoya show slammed Valensia's head against a metal door during the sound check, causing him to faint and provoking a concussion just 2 hours prior to the show.

Valensia arrived at Schiphol airport sick and with a concussion. Avoiding the Dutch fans he fled home to find out his mother Jacqueline had died at the age of forty-nine, due to a neglected and untreated series of heart attacks, of which the fifth one was fatal.

Valensia recalls:

"I learned a lot that day. I remember standing by my mother's open casket, whispering to her: "They surely got you". It took me quite a few years to cope with her loss."

Valentine, however, was present at Jacqueline's funeral.

"Valentine seemed to be either unaware or indifferent of his manager monopolising V. Later he would admit his management talked him into this collaboration as a tool to get a new record deal. The upside about Willem de Bois is that he arranged an enormously profitable deal for us. He's an extremely talented negotiator. I just wished it all was done without all the bloodshed."

Gaia II (2000)

Gaia II
Gaia II
Valensia - Gaia II (2000)

In January 2000, Valensia signed a new record deal with the smaller label Marquee Inc. Japan. It was the first time Valensia himself hired the Wisseloord Studios and John Sonneveld as his engineer. Brother David Clarkson now was a professional drummer and recruited to play all songs of the album.

Old frustrations played up between Valensia and Sonneveld flared up when Sonneveld wanted to wrap for the day while Dave was on a roll. Valensia proposed he would take over the recordings, which agitated Sonneveld.

David Clarkson recalls:

"It was my first time in Wisseloord, the adrenaline gave me wings and I was performing excellent. My brother noticed it and I think Sonneveld forgot Valensia was paying, not the record company. John gave in and went home. We could go on all night if we wanted – and which we did."

It resulted in the drums for an entire album played in one day and one night.

Valensia traditionally recorded his first two songs in the Wisseloord Studios with producer/engineer John Sonneveld, when tensions started to build up. Japan had requested the environmental song "Realm Of Nature". According to Sonneveld Valensia wrongly pronounced the word "realm". Valensia pronounced it as "rɛlm", whereas the correct pronunciation should be "ree-elm". Barry Haye from The Golden Earring was called to check the word but he couldn't be reached.

By the time the track was finished, featuring the wrongly pronounced "re-alm", Valensia halted production only after two songs and bought ProTools recording software, finishing Gaia II on his own.

Valensia recalls:

"I didn't know anything about sound production and it would take me several years to become a professional producer. Gaia II sounded pretty terrible but I couldn't do the verbal karate over each note or word anymore. Besides that, there was no budget for it."

Marquee had promised Valensia an equally big advance a major company would pay and an extensive Japanese promotional tour. Marquee delivered and even bought billboard time to feature Valensia's 4th album, on the condition the album would be named "Gaia II". Valensia was invited for the 2000 Gaia II promotional tour in Japan which turned out to be a very successful and pleasurable tour after the 1999 V debacle. His predominantly female audience weren't the screaming teenagers anymore and would oftentimes proudly pose with Valensia together with their babies.

When Valensia visited the Osaka Virgen store, the Valensiamania oddly returned and his performance drew such a large crowd, security barely couldn't handle it. During an improvised guitar solo, when Valensia did his trademark piano playing on guitar, one girl fainted and barely missed Valensia while hitting the floor. A Virgen store security worker said:

"I saw some girls faint at big concerts of big pop stars. But I never ever saw it happen in a Virgin record shop before!"

At a meeting with the president of Marquee Inc., Naohiro Yamazaki, Yamazaki expressed his concern of the collapse of the CD industry and the overall decline in CD sales because of the rise of the internet and illegal downloads. The writings on the wall predicted a total collapse of the music industry, and Japan indeed is currently the only country in the world left with a modest CD market. For Valensia it would mean a huge step back regarding the huge budgets: A promotional tour of this magnitude couldn't be done for the next album and live shows would be too expensive for a promoter or record company to finance.

Valensia visited Japan four times and realized this would be the end of the golden era, which Japan had extended for him for almost a decade.

The Blue Album and "V" (2001)

The Blue Album
The Blue Album
Valensia - The Blue Album (2002)

2001 was a busy year for Valensia, who would become father of his first child Alyssa Gaia Clarkson in December. He had been working on both albums simultaneously: The fifth Valensia album which would become The Blue Album and the second album for V, to be titled Valentine Versus Valensia.

The Blue Album would be the most experimental album Valensia has ever made and remains to be his personal favorite album to this day. It was also the very first album Valensia recorded without input from any outside parties, featuring songs like Inshallah, seen by many composers as the most complex pop song ever written.

The Blue Album would become Valensia's most appreciated album since his debut album. Valensia seemed to be at the peak of his ability and in top form. His daughter Alyssa just was born and positive vibes brought back the freshness in the compositions.

For the second V album both artists had to sit down and talk, after what happened in 1999. They both agreed they weren't able to write together, Valentine criticising Valensia for being overly dominant and Valensia criticising Valentine for finishing collaboration songs on his own. So they agreed they would separately write their songs, leaving open verses and bridges for the other to sing, agreeing the chorus would be always sung together.

When Valensia flew to the Netherlands to sing his parts, he found out he only had tiny fragments to fill, such as the song Take Me Home, in which Valentine sings all verses, bridges and choruses, the only gap left open being "my love" in the chorus.

Valensia was furious beyond words. He recalls:

"It was like the world sinking in underneath me. After all that happened in 1999 I took a fucking plane to sing two fucking words."

This caused Valensia and Valentine not to work together anymore but rather were sending each other their tracks with written instructions.

Unfortunately, the incident stirred up all the memories of the previous album and the tour so Valensia filled in most of the parts he'd left open for Valentine on his own songs and started to write hidden messages about the sabotage within the lyrics.

The lyrics of V-sualised were written in a way the first letter of each word would form a different set of lyrics, exposing what Valensia felt was the truth about V.

The title of the song Since All Bitter Opal Tears Are Gone Elsewhere spelled "Sabotage" and riddles were hidden all over the album.

"V" II (2001)

Valentine Vs Valensia
Valentine Vs Valensia
V - Valentine Vs Valensia (2002)

When the Valentine Vs Valensia album was released in 2001, Valensia knew V was surplused anyway and decided to go full throttle in the first V interview about the 1999 album and tour sabotage.

Valentine was offered an interview to fire back but declined, to Valensia's dismay. As far as he was considered, they were in a McCartney-Lennon type of fight and "let it generate exposure. At least the friggin' album will be promoted".

Valentine chose to post an online statement instead:

"I can't see his face, I cannot hear his name, for me he doesn't exist anymore. This all too much. My family and friends, my girlfriend and ex-wife won't let him get away with it. This time he went too far. I'm only disappointed that the Japanese media prints all this slander and terrible lies. There will never be another V."

Valensia would later incorporate this text in the song "Ready To Roar" (Metal Majesty, 2005):

"Well you can't see my face and can't hear my name, for you I don't exist anymore, this is all too much.
Your family and friends, girlfriend and ex-wife of course won't let me get away with it, this time I went too far.
You're only disappointed that the media prints all this slander and terrible lies, there will never be another V."

It would serve both Valensia and Valentine well in order to force Universal to pay out the third and final advance from their V agreement, as this song was theoretically a Valensia - Valentine collaboration. "I wrote the song, he wrote the lyrics."

Valentine struck back with a killing set of lyrics, roasting Valensia in his song Payback Time. The lyrics of the song were very direct and basically a death threat: ("You're gonna die, you're gonna die, pathetic fat loser.")

Valensia recalls:

"I knew I could take that with a pinch of salt. I was actually glad he said it. Showed that he cared."

Upon hearing the song he called Valentine, who went silent for a second, then started laughing. There never was animosity between the two of them as friends. They were, and still are like brothers. They're talents and personalities dictate there's a bond. As artists, they apparently were rivals, the two being very competitive. They're good friends and go way back but shouldn't be working together. It didn't work for Jackson and Prince either.

Valensia and Valentine restored their friendship during the third album. Ironically, this time they really collaborated together on songs like Why? and The Fight Is Over Now, featuring Valensia on piano and Valentine on drums and guitar. Valensia sang his part while laying on the studio's carpet. The song Why? was spontaneously written and arranged by Valentine on the fly and immediately recorded. Valensia recalled:

"These were great moments for the both of us, and how we should have worked on all the albums. I know it was the outside world of the grunge and hip hop Zeitgeist which killed our creativity. It was frustrating."

They delivered the album which consisted of Valentine's demos, Valensia's Metal Majesty songs and only two songs on which they truly collaborated. They knew it didn't matter anyway: Universal wouldn't release the album in any case. They just received their advance, buying them time to think about their future in a dwindling industry which never would recover.

Metal Majesty (2002)

Metal Majesty
Metal Majesty
Metal Majesty - Metal Majesty (2003)

In spite of The Blue Album being viewed as Valensia's Magnum Opus, the record industry was collapsing. Record label Marquee indicated they weren't capable of financing a new Valensia album, unless he would come up with a heavy rock album to penetrate the Japanese heavy metal market.

Valensia recorded 15 new songs that were released under the moniker Metal Majesty. Parallel to Metal Majesty, Valensia recorded The Queen Tribute album.

The Queen Tribute album (2003)

Queen Tribute
Queen Tribute
Valensia - Queen Tribute (2003)

Requested by Marquee Inc. Valensia recorded an album with only Queen covers. A closely copied rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody showcased Valensia's capability to sound remarkably close to not only Freddie Mercury but the entire band. Valensia effortlessly played the signature Brian May sound and at times, the resemblance of his voice with the voice of the younger Mercury was uncanny.

Valensia surprised Queen fans all over the world with the album, especially with his rendition of the Mercury-penned "My Fairy King", which is possibly the only cover superseding the original Queen recording.

Valensia's Queen Tribute was embraced by the Queen community as well as the artist himself. Many Queen fans plead Valensia would make a better lead singer than former Free lead vocalist Paul Rodgers, who was touring with remaining Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor. Valensia wasn't aspiring to the impossible job of filling Freddie Mercury's shoes though. Valensia recalls:

"Freddie Mercury was my hero as a 4-year-old. The very thought of working with Queen just was too big to even enter my head. Plus I knew both May and Taylor weren't looking for someone who sounded like Mercury. I would have been an imitator. I was always interested in doing arrangements and harmony vocals on a new Queen album, however."

To emphasize the Queen Tribute was not a public job application, Valensia added in his liner notes a Monty Phyton's Art Gallery-sketch inspired tongue-in-cheek message, stating:

"No, no, no. I said no and I meant no: I will NOT be Queen's new lead singer!"

To Valensia's surprise he learned Brian May and Roger Taylor did hear his album and apparently had read the liner note. Queen's archivist Greg Brooks said May and Taylor referred to Valensia as Mr. No.

In the end, Valensia contacted May, answering a question May asked on his website regarding eye floaters. May replied to Valensia he had heard great things on the Queen Tribute and most particularly loved Valensia's rendition of Liar and the May penned Smile song Polar Bear.

Retirement

Valensia
Valensia in 2007
Valensia in 2007

After releasing a second Metal Majesty album in 2004 and concluding the third V album, Valensia was involved with the planned "Year Of Water" project by Sumavi and prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, contributing the song Aquatica. However, the project never materialized and Aquatica was released as a download for the 2004 Thailand Tsunami relief.

Hard work in an insufficient lit area caused a blind spot in his left eye, which was wrongly diagnosed as a brain tumor in the fall of 2005. A second opinion also indicated a brain tumor and Valensia paid for an immediate MRI scan. No brain tumor was found. He also started suffering from RSI and realized he was demanding too much of his body.

When he received the news that his father James Henry Clarkson passed away, Valensia announced his retirement from the music industry in 2006.

In 2007 however, Valensia had written about 35 new songs, mainly to please his new partner. For the first time, the new material was written to also please the radio stations.

According to Valensia, every artist who has experienced huge success will be addicted for life. Valensia said:

"I heard Duran Duran's John Taylor say exactly the same thing: the easier it was to achieve, the harder it becomes to achieve it once again."

Herman van der Zwan, the A&R manager who had signed Valensia back in 1993 contacted him in 2008 after Valensia's first appearance on Dutch television since 10 years in KRO's De Reunie. Van der Zwan arranged a meeting between Valensia and award-winning producer Elliot Kennedy (Bryan Adams, The Spice Girls, Gary Barlow). Unfortunately, the meeting never took place because van der Zwan was in Indonesia with Laura Fygi. By the time he got back, Kennedy had committed himself to other projects. Van der Zwan offered other producers as an option but Valensia lost interest. He adds:

"If someone like Kennedy comes along, I want to be on a plane to London. If that momentum is lost, it's lost."

There were many false starts in 2009. Valensia recorded a song with Within Temptation producer Oscar Holleman. Valensia contacted Universal's new A&R manager, who was a Valensia fan. He requested a Gaia-type song. Valensia wrote Aglaea but after many versions to modernise the song, it got canceled.

In 2010 Valensia and Marquee planned to release the maxi single One Day My Princess Will Come. After hearing the masters Valensia immediately canceled its release, officially stating the mastered version could cause serious sensorineural hearing loss because of the boosted high frequency harmonics. Because Valensia had not signed the agreement, Marquee had no choice but to cancel the release.

spo0K (2011)

spo0K
spo0K
spo0K poster

Valensia spent most of 2010 preparing for his upcoming debut movie spo0K, a supernatural horror. It was his intention to demonstrate you can make a good movie for a fraction of a Hollywood budget, having learned that 90% of any budget usually is wasted on talking. Instead of conceptualizing on paper he just modelled all props with his hands. There would be no CGI, having pioneered GCI himself in the Gaia video and not being fond of GCI in horror movies. With a Welsh and British crew and a British/US cast production started in February 2011, at the main set Casa Santonja in Beniarbeig, Spain.

Valensia had a hard time keeping the crew and actors from revolting, which happened when Valensia fired a crew member. Valensia recalls:

"All were great, talented people. But they were aware I was a pop artist. They had this attitude like: "A rockstar needs to make a movie". It was during the reshoots the actors saw I did know how to make a movie."

The tensions occurred because of the continuous clashes between Valensia and his DP. Valensia would arrive on set and saw the crew covering all windows of the 14th-century building, according to the schedule which indicated a night scene would be filmed during day time, when in the evening they would shoot the daylight scenes.

When Valensia urged to change the schedule, his DP declined his request. Valensia recalls:

"This was how the movie failed. I warned them it would take them the entire day to cover all 40 windows, so it would be dark when we could start filming."

Instead of learning their lesson, the filmschooled crew stuck to the schedule and started placing lights in front of the windows, simulating sunlight. By the time they were done, only one shot could be filmed. It left Valensia with only 60% of the movie filmed and half of it was unusable because of the DP taking over directing.

Valensia decided to reshoot 50% of the movie with actors Mitchell Moran, Ed Coupland and Aranzazu Diez. One problem was that the images were hard to combine but the main problem was the storyline being lost. In the end Valensia added an opening sequence to the damaged movie, entirely filmed in his own living room. This gave him a distribution deal with the Canadian based Factory Films. spo0K was a modest success, earning a 4.1 star rate on IMDB.

The Macabre (2012)

The Macabre Ayahuasca Hammer Experience
The Macabre Ayahuasca Hammer Experience
The Macabre Ayahuasca Hammer Experience poster

spo0K actually was declared abandoned by Valensia in 2012, deciding he would be better off filming with a smaller crew with a newly written screenplay The Macabre Ayahuasca Hammer Experience.

Flying his Kosmos ultralight on the Benicolet airstrip he had spotted the ideal location when lining up to the runway. He traveled to the breathtaking site, which appeared to be the Monastery of Sant Jeroni de Cotalba, one of the most historic constructions in Valencia.

With the help of Valensia's spo0K assistant he could rent the monastery and with the help of actress Aranzazu Diez an impressive cast was assembled, including Spanish actress Macarena Gómez. Actress Natalia Bilbao,Tommy Zandali and his brother Philipp Zandali were also recruited by Diez. Tommy had been Orlando Bloom's body double in Pirates Of The Carribean{{'}s Dead Man's Chest (2006) and At World's End (2007). Valensia casted British actor Hugh Holman and the rather odd choice of recruiting the then 16-year-old Wiegert de Vries and David Waringa as his runners, which prompted Gómez to abandon the production.

On the second production day, there was a huge Gota Fria, flooding the entire area. When cast and crew thought they had lost an entire production day, Valensia announced he started production 2 days earlier than they knew. They had been informed that the first 2 days were test shootings. In reality, Valensia already started production. Due to the heavy rainfall, the area now had a perfect grim look and this lifted the spirits of the entire crew.

This first production week was prepared to do all Gómez scenes as she was a busy actress, leaving Valensia with no schedule to work with. After an amazing production night where Valensia was rushing to shoot as much with Gómez as possible, Gómez commented: "I have to admit you're an excellent director", giving him an extra morning to shoot. Valensia took the challenge and shot all needed shots with Gómez together with Holman from 9 AM to 4 PM, rushing through the monastery.

Then disaster struck, when Valensia's expected funds were withheld in the middle of the production, forcing him to abandon the production of The Macabre. Valensia sued the company and settled for $90,000. Then disaster struck again when the company didn't pay, declaring themselves bankrupt. This left Valensia without a movie to sell and with a financial disaster. Valensia recalls:

"I could have chosen not to do any of the things I've done, I choose to do it. At the end of the day I did have the albums and the movies. Getting screwed along the way is what every artist experiences."

Legacy (2014)

Legacy
Legacy
Valensia - Legacy (2014)

Valensia recorded his 6th album Legacy in 2014, including the song "Aglaea" he had written for Universal Holland in 2009. The 1995 written song for K.O.S.M.O.S. was re-recorded and included, along with a string of new songs like Tere III, 7 Ways To Be Loved and The Cabinet Of Curiosities. The album also included the canceled song "Here Comes The Moron" as well as spo0K's closing credits track "God's Lesser Creation", dedicated to Madeleine McCann.

Valensia comments:

"I didn't consider myself being a pop artist anymore but that doesn't mean I can't release an album once in a while. Songwriting continues automatically."

Two video clips were recorded for Legacy: A tongue-in-cheek video of Valensia trying to perform "The Candle" but his partner taking over his performance, leaving him with not much to do during the video, deciding to mop the floor in the background.

Valensia stated:

"It was a blend of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" and John Lennon's "Imagine", with Yoko Ono always being overly present. It had a lot of different meanings, actually."

Levine (2017)

Levine
Levine
Levine poster

Right after delivering the Legacy masters to Marquee, Valensia was filming his upcoming second feature film Levine.

Levine was Valensia's way of getting rid of the built-up anger during the filming of spo0K and having to abandon The Macabre, which he considered to be a ground-breaking horror movie. Without any budget, cast or crew he started filming the story of a girl who survived a car crash and is haunted by her sister who perished during the crash and starts using her social media accounts to contact the surviving one.

Without a cast, Valensia put his partner in front of the camera and gradually wrote more characters in, such as American actors Terry Moran and Margaret Lewis-Moran. He eventually appeared on screen himself, portraying the homeless and alienated father "Fleques". Valensia, now with a mustache, appeared to be a spitting image of Johnny Depp, who in his role as Willie Wonka in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory often was compared to Michael Jackson. Even Valensia's daughter Alyssa plays the part of novice Constance Crenshaw in the movie, tallying up the non-existing cast to 6 actors as Valensia's partner plays both sisters.

Valensia decided to handle all crew tasks himself, exactly in the same way he did during his musical career when he took over the bass playing, piano, synths and even the violin, which he only could play holding it on his lap, like a little cello, eventually taking over engineering and producing. Valensia commented:

"I would find myself recording the score for Levine, the movie I made, with the fiddle stick between my teeth, one hand holding the violin and the other hand operating the console. There was an electric buzz which only went away when holding my foot on the wires."

Valensia indeed did the tasks of about 100 people all simultaneously. He would write and block the shot, design the set, then dress it, light it, do the sound recording, determine the angle of the camera which he operated.

His partner recalls:

"There were several shots in which he acts himself, while dollying the camera with his left foot: I have never even heard of this. Watching the shot you don't realise it's all him, up to the colouring, the editing, the foley and the score, which is an orchestra being played by him, overdubbing 100 violins. I don't think there's anyone on earth who can do this."

Valensia's body couldn't handle months of intense labour: he suffered from impingement syndrome, unable to move his right arm due to a damaged rotator cuff. When visiting the hospital, surgery was recommended.

Valensia decided to work with his left arm instead while it took a full year before his right shoulder was cured.

He worked on Levine from 2015 till 2017, keeping an eye on the release of the latest Pirates Of The Carribean installment. Valensia recalls:

"When I started wearing a mustache, people thought I was some sort of captain Jack and started taking pictures, posing with me, even asking for autographs. Here I was with that20 years spanning career, while all I had to do was grow a mustache: same effect, much less work."

Johnny Depp's character was staggeringly popular, only rivaled by the former popularity of the late Michael Jackson. Valensia added a sub-story with more Pirates-like features in Levine, knowing it would help him to get a distribution deal.

But when Levine was released in 2017, Johnny Depp was accused of domestic violence by his ex-partner Amber Heard. Companies that were about to sign a profitable distribution deal suddenly withdrew and canceled the Levine movie. It reminded Valensia of his 1993 success right in the middle of the Michael Jackson accusations.

Valensia put Levine on hold and currently is working on a second cut of the movie, awaiting Depp's victory regarding the Depp-Heard defamation case.

Valensia adds:

"I hope Depp wins the case for personal reasons. He, like countless others, was victimised by a gender-biased system. It's an agenda which traumatizes children and destroys families. I've been there, I know."

Life Form (2018)

Life Form
Life Form
Life Form promo

In the summer of 2018, Valensia worked on his new feature film project called Life Form, which is set in the world screenwriter Dan O'Bannon created in his screenplay Alien, which was turned into one of the most iconic sci-fi horror movies by Ridley Scott in 1979. Valensia pitches a screenplay in a moodboard via a teaser online.

Valensia comments:

"It usually takes years for these kinds of projects to materialize. I can't do this one by myself as it has too many actors. I recorded a part of it in the Mediterranean sea and in my swimming pool to give the viewers an idea of what to expect. There are many Alien fans out there who aren't interested in all the shoot outs but rather in the eerie silence of the unknown, and what lies in the shadows. I liked that about Alien I. I love the realism of Life Form. It is a feature film I will be directing, at some point in the future."

7EVE7 (2018)

7EVE7
7EVE7
Valensia - 7EVE7 (2019)

A seventh Valensia album was released in 2019, called 7EVE7, featured as an ambigram on his album's artwork.

This was the first all Clarkson-produced album, since Valensia's brother David Clarkson didn't only do the drums but also the programming, producing and mastering of 7EVE7. For David Clarkson, 7EVE7 was a challenge production-wise. David Clarkson recalls:

"Both Valensia's debut album as well as K.O.S.M.O.S. are extremely good sounding, high end productions, recorded in the best studio, produced by the best engineers and producers. Especially K.O.S.M.O.S. I think is one of the best, if not the best Dutch sound production ever. And I had to try and come as close as possible. I think we came very close."

Valensia signed with King Records Japan, who wanted an album like his debut album. Valensia deliberately arranged and composed in that very same style, sending out the message that his style was his own style in 1993.

Valensia recalls:

"In 1993 it was all about how I was copying Queen. Now it is all: "This is a copy of yourself". Which I don't mind being."

7EVE7 was criticised for lacking signs of musical development. According to Valensia there are only 12 tones in the musical universe we occupy.

"But what I understand is that people tend to get worked up when I copy elements of other songs, which I do. But even my versions are just renditions of the composition itself. The composition is just the chords and melodies. If you'd do a classical rendition for an orchestra, this is when my music shows itself. That time will come. Just not done by me."

Queen (2019)

Queen III
Queen III
Valensia - Queen III

Valensia was offered to do a new Queen tribute album in the wake of the immense success of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. The record company and Valensia clashed when he said he did not want to redo too many Queen hits but rather search for unknown and unfinished Queen material, preferably recordings from even before the Queen era.

Indeed there were quite a few interesting things to be found, like a surviving recording of a young Freddie Mercury, singing one of his very first songs called "Green" with his band Wreckage. Valensia spent several weeks researching the material available, to see if an entire album could be made, consisting of Mercury (or other Queen members) - written songs. The concept was to arrange and record the songs in the early Queen-style which Valensia masters, and probably is the only artist alive today to do this.

Valensia outlined several compositions such as the pre-Queen rocker Vagabond Outcast and even the Mercury (Bulsara) penned Feelings Ended, Worn Away, from which only the lyrics survived. Valensia said:

"The challenge with F.E.W.A. was looking at the lyrics and judging from the rhythm and cadence of the words which melody could have been the original melody. Of course I'll be 90% off but it's that 10% I'm after."

He spent most of his time composing without instruments, listening to whatever would come to his mind. Then he would record all the pieces on an old memo recorder and from there build the basic framework of the song which would be F.E.W.A., which appeared to be a song in the vein of The March Of The Black Queen (Queen II, 1974).

Green was easier to decipher as there was an old tape recording as a guide for the melody. The lyrics "There's a sudden change in me", "Tomorrow I'm going to see the last of the blue skies above me", "And I'm ready, I know I'm going away" seemed to indicate a Bohemian Rhapsody-like saying goodbye to his old self, in search of the new person.

Green was sung in an Aretha Franklin kind of feel, which indicated a Somebody To Love (A Day At The Races, 1976) feel.

Vagabond Outcast's lyrics were hard to hear even for English speaking fans, who never fully deciphered it. For Valensia it may have been easier to do, since he has been writing these kind of lyrics for most of his life.

The record companies were more interested in perfect renditions of Queen's greatest hits and the production was abandoned in the fall of 2019.

Recently, Valensia has been flirting with the idea to complete the Queen III album, when listening to Aretha Franklin's My Precious Lord (Take My Hand), imagining how this would sound as a Mercury-performed and Queen-played song.

"Vocals"

Valensia
Valensia singing
Valensia performing at the Diamond Hall, Nagoya 1996

Valensia's vocal range extends from bass low B (B2) to soprano high B (B6) or falsetto D (D6), as recorded in the upper-harmonic voice during the outro of the song Scaraboushka, being one of the highest male voices ever recorded in pop music.

Valensia's lowest recorded vocal note is a bass low E (E2) on the song Electric Lady House which makes his recorded vocal range 1 full tone short to reach a recorded full four-octave vocal range. According to co-producer and brother David Clarkson, Valensia reaches low bass G (G2), which isn't exceptionally low (co-producer Pim Koopman sang a G sharp (G1) on the song Thunderbolt and according to Valensia, Pim could even reach E (E1) "Thanks to all the Brandy").

On the age of 26, Valensia had a vocal range of a few notes over 4 octaves, being cited as 'the only one who can pull off the ultra-high falsettos of Queen's Roger Taylor in Valensia's highly praised cover of the Queen song 'My Fairy King, reaching an A (A6), only to be surpassed by Valensia's highest ever recorded note on V's song "Free" which is, like on Scaraboushka, a C (C6)

Valensia has an amazingly versatile voice as featured throughout his career, best known for his crystalline and pure vocals on "Gaia", phrasing his voice to the exact mood the segment of the song dictated.

On his later works, Valensia demonstrated his powerful, David Coverdale-like throaty rock-growling on his Metal Majesty albums, on the second album "2005" in particular. One of his most heavy vocal styled songs ever is "Hold On The Night" from the 2005 album.

On the more Beatles-ended songs such as Catalepsia and Here Comes The Moron Valensia uses a completely different, squeezed throat voice, like John Lennon made his voice sound like Rittle Richards when he wanted to add this raw edge to his voice, or like Paul McCartney putting on his "Lady Madonna" voice. "Or Madonna, putting on no voice", says Valensia.

On the more lyrical compositions Valensia would use a Kate Bush-like, ultra-high, witchy falsetto. The seemingly higher pitched lead vocals on the single "The Sun" was the only song ever which was pitched up, due to a mistake of the engineer who forgot to pitch back the Studer recorders to the normal pitch.

Valensia never has used vocal enhancers, autotune, tone correction on his recordings. Especially for the Queen recordings it was speculated Valensia used harmonizers to achieve the huge harmonies, which wasn't the case.

Audio snippets:

Harmony vocals

Valensia
Valensia recording harmony vocals in Wisseloord's Studio 3, July 1994
Valensia recording harmony vocals in Wisseloord's Studio 3, July 1994

Praised as one of the very best harmony vocals arranger and singer alive, Valensia oftentimes uses very complex harmony arrangements. A conventional vocal harmony usually consists of 3 tones, for example C, E, G for a major harmony and C, E flat, G for a minor harmony. When a fourth note is added, standard arrangers add a high C, which is the octave of the low C.

Valensia frequently adds a fourth and fifth tone but adds them in front of the standard harmony, mostly using the 2nd, 6th or 7th interval. A typical Valensia harmony would thus be a B flat, C, E flat, G as a C minor harmony. All possible variations of layering have been done (taking the C as the standard chord) such as C, D, D sharp, G, B flat.

The harmony comprises of two semitones (the distance between C and D, and D and D sharp) which creates a certain resonance which, if sung absolutely clear, is very pleasing to the ear. With a tone added to determine the interval of the chord, such as Valensia's prefered 6th or 7th interval, the harmony gets a new dimension and vibration between all tones. To achieve the big sounding harmonies, Valensia records each tone 4 or 8 times, making the total of notes sang on one harmony 4 x 5 or 8 x 5.

These unisone tones then are either panned 2 left and 2 right in the stereo spectrum. They are sometimes set in mono and sometimes put in pairs of 4 throughout the stereo spectrum, depending on the kind of harmony vocal. This means one harmony oftentimes consists of 40 vocals, pretty much filling up one single 48 track machine. Producer John Sonneveld said:

"I think, without a doubt, Valensia must be the best harmony vocalist performer and arranger there is."

Private life

Valensia's family
Valensia's family
Valensia with his family

Valensia always led somewhat of a reclusive life. According to Valensia it never was intentional.

"I love to surround me with as many people as possible, provided there's a stage in the vicinity. If not, I get bored. I don't drink. If I did, you'd find me on the floor surrounded by hundreds of empty Champaign bottles. I got no filters or limits, that's why I rather don't do anything but work."

Valensia has been living since 1995 in the totally reformed mansion he bought from his grandparents: a luxurious lot on a mountain slope, overlooking the Spanish coast, with a replica of the Wisseloord Studios control room adjacent to his house, overlooking the pool.

He lives there with his partner Caroline, mother of sons Ivy Alois Valensia (aged 3) and Bodene Alesis (aged 2). His 19 year old daughter Alyssa returned to the Netherlands for her study as a chef. Valensia spends most of his time in his studio and flying is one of his passions.

"Covid and the Spanish lockdown in 2020 went right past me. For me there was no difference: I'm either home or in the studio, which is built at my house. I don't think I ever left my property during Covid. The only difference is that I couldn't walk and sing at night or at dawn. When there's nobody out, I go out."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License