Lexi Valentine calls exactly on time for our interview on the morning after Magneta Lane’s Witchrock EP release show; besides being on time, she’s energized, and then quickly apologizes about being too talkative. Her excitement doesn’t skip a beat over the next half hour as we talk about the band’s sort-of meltdown and sort-of comeback.
“After Gambling With God came out [in 2009], everything was such a mess on [the business] side of things,” she says. “When we first started, everyone thought we were 19, but we were like 15. We knew nothing about the business. Being in a band for 10 years, you learn so much. And the other thing is that, as a woman in the industry, you don’t want people to think that you’re just some stupid girl on stage with a guitar. I want to know my business. That was something that was super important to us.”
For Valentine that meant starting her own label (Splendor House Records) and getting Canadian early-aughts hitmakers Finger Eleven’s Rick Jackett and James Black in on the writing process for perspective—and building confidence. “I was so spent with everything that had happened, I needed fresh ears,” she says, explaining how they met at a party and bonded over—what else—music. “They pushed me to not be afraid in my lyrics, or even in my singing. Then they said they really wanted to produce this record. We’re going to go back in the studio to continue with them because it’s working out really well.”
Despite the personal overhaul, Witchrock still sounds unmistakably like Magneta Lane—irresistible melodies wrapped in a warm and subtle early 90s alt-rock smudge. I try to hint that I thought the band to always be underrated and ask Valentine if she agreed that the trio always seemed to get unfairly be wrong-place-wrong-time lumped in with an Avril aesthetic.
“We’re too indie-rock for mainstream, too mainstream-poppy for the really cool indie-rock artsy crowd, and we’re just like, what the fuck? Nobody ever told us that this is what we were signing up for,” she says.
“Looking back now, it doesn’t even feel like us really. It’s almost like this weird role we were playing. All we wanted to do was play music, but then there was all this other stuff that came along with it. Maybe because we felt awkward while a lot of that stuff was going on, because we were still trying to find our feet as people as well, maybe that’s why a lot of the things happened at the wrong time. I think our confusion was very evident in what we were doing earlier on. Whereas now, it’s just like, this is who we are. I’m very comfortable in my own skin.
“Being in this band used to be more of a selfish endeavour. We were 17 and wanted to be rock stars,” Valentine says. “And now that I’m older, I want girls to get something from this. That to me is probably the most important thing now, being in a band. That’s the reason we’re doing it now.”
This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of AUX Magazine. Download and subscribe for free in the App Store.