Gold Record for local music duo

Jeff Mendel and Angela Gail of In the Valley Below. Photo by Bryan Esler.

When Grand Rapids residents Angela Mattson and Jeffrey Mendel became pregnant 11 years ago they were planning on giving up on the dream of performing in the band they had formed, “In the Valley Below.”  After writing and releasing a song called Peaches, and sending it to every label they could think of with zero response, they believed they had no choice but to pursue something else. Luckily, someone put Peaches on Spotify, which changed everything. 

Peaches eventually rose to number 18 on the US Alternative Songs Chart and, in March of this year, achieved Gold record status, selling 500,000 units in Canada. Mattson describes the band’s sound as “dark” and “hopeful.” Their music is reminiscent of Depeche Mode, Eurthymics, OMD and can be found on Spotify and YouTube. 

The passion this couple has for music – and for each other – is palpable.

“While we fell in love early, it didn’t immediately transfer into commercial success,” said Mendel. Soon after the song was uploaded to Spotify, manager Pete Dalli contacted Mattson and Mendel, encouraging them to write more and to start playing shows. Mattson and Mendel had performed with many bands in L.A., neither had a lot of experience as lead singers, or even as duet performers. 

As most performers will relate, their first show was not the smashing success for which they had hoped. Years later, the couple learned their debut went so poorly that Dalli considered dropping them. Fortunately, he offered encouragement instead, which motivated the couple to keep at it.

After about a year of performing, they began feeling more confident, and then the record labels started calling. In 2014, “ITVB” signed with Capitol Records, and released their first album, “The Belt.” The band later signed with Bright Antenna Records to produce “The Pink Chateau,” accompanied by an album-length music video, evocative of French cinema.

Mattson described the “crazy” rise in the popularity of the duo’s single that went Gold: “It takes a lot to get a song on the radio. Record labels promoted the song for a while, and then it dried up, only to resurge a few years later, when people started requesting the song on the radio.” 

Listen to Peaches here.

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