Amber Valentine Of Jucifer
Band Photo: Jucifer (?)
Jucifer is one-of-a-kind for many reasons; they are an extremely heavy two-piece made up of man and wife team Amber Valentine on the mic and guitar and Edgar Livengood on the drums. For nearly twenty years, they have traveled the world without stopping with their incredible stage gear in tow; towers of amps that often fill the venues they play up to the ceiling. I was able to speak with the enigmatic Amber while she was on the road to talk about a nomadic lifestyle, their film career, and an album steadily being worked upon.
Buick McKane: How are you doing today?
Amber Valentine: Really tired, I just drove three-hundred miles on three hours sleep! But we had a really fun show last night and the drive was actually beautiful, lots of swamp and live oaks and birds to look out the window at.
Buick: How is this tour stint going?
Amber: Great. Shows have been good... It started out brutally fuckin' cold, up north in January, but last couple of weeks down south have been almost perfect. I really like the cold but it's a relief to get out of it after awhile.
Buick: Your van is legendary, but when you go abroad like you will this year, what do you travel in?
Amber: Not an RV like we live in here! They have 'em but it wouldn't make any sense to rent one. In Europe we've toured in a bus or a sprinter. Sprinters are just vans with high roofs but they can be pretty nice inside, like at least have a table and maybe a little coffin hole to sleep in. They're better for Europe because if you're in a bus there, a lot of times it can't be parked near the venue. Which sucks for loading and sucks even more if you left something you need on it. And buses have a toilet but it's only for peeing... which calls for some crazy control, especially when you're eating weird food! We went to Russia this year and flew or took a train everywhere... everything was provided at the shows so we just had my guitar, our clothes and merch to travel with. That was the lightest we've ever toured.
Buick: I hear there is an album in the works, can you give me more details about it?
Amber: Yeah we're working on one and we thought we'd be done with it by now, but we haven't had time to get in the studio enough. We have a session coming up in the summer when we get back from Europe, so we're hoping to finish and get it out in the fall. Really stoked on it, we've been trying out some of the songs live and people are digging them.
Buick: Will you be making music videos for any songs soon?
Amber: I just watched one that's about to premiere! It's for a song off “Nadir,” the 1994 EP we just re-issued. It'll come out in the next week or two. Yeah, we're gonna make a couple of others in the next few months too. And the last video we put out (for “Hiroshima”) is also gonna be on a really badass French box set comp that comes out soon.
Buick: The Slow Southern Steel Documentary that y'all were featured in just finished its tour. Have you seen it yet?
Amber: No! It's a crazy tease because we were right behind the whole tour. And when it first premiered CT had invited us but we were in Russia. Which was awesome, being in Russia, but we've been waiting to see the movie dammit... Then again, it's always weird to watch yourself talk on camera. So maybe we can wait - haha!
Buick: A theme in the film was that southern bands, like other aspects of southern culture, are seen as lowly compared to other places in America. Have you ever felt that discrimination?
Amber: Definitely, yeah. Like being a blonde chick, being southern can get you condescended to or it can get you perceived as a caricature. I mean, I guess any background can get you that! But there is an assumption about southerners, and an assumption about blonde females... being both can get you into some annoying situations. The attitude is wrongheaded, but I'm used to handling it. I get a little sadistic kick out of blowing the minds of people who've stereotyped me.
Buick: I heard about a film y'all starred in called "Metalhead." Do you know when it will be releasing?
Amber: It's still gonna be awhile. We need to hook up with the director and the crew a few more times, and all of us have really busy schedules so it's hard to find a time we can connect. But I think it's about 3/4 finished.
Buick: Because of your constant touring, you've played with dozens, if not hundreds, of bands. Are there any bands you haven't played with yet that you'd like to play with?
Amber: Oh god lots... all different kinds too. Anybody good that's cool to hang out with. The best thing for us is festivals when we get to play together with so many bands at once.
Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Amber: Just thanks to everybody who supports us! Coming up on our twentieth year soon, we're really conscious of how many people have helped us and made it possible for us to exist for so long. It means a lot.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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