Blurred backdrop for Havana Nights - Single
Album cover for Havana Nights - Single

Havana Nights - Single

Valerie Toledo2024

In 1980, my grandfather risked everything to bring his family to the United States, boarding a small ship during the Mariel boatlift with my grandmother, my mother, and my uncle. Before they faced the seas, he spoke these words to his family: “We’re going on a journey that will be difficult. No matter what happens, don’t cry. You have to be brave.”43 years later, he faced the most difficult and universal trial — the journey from this life to the next.I wanted to write him a song that communicated my gratitude for everything he had given me without dampening his spirits.I wanted the song to echo that message he gave his family 43 years ago: “Ahora no llores.”On May 15, 2024, on what would have been his 72nd birthday, you'll get to hear about his journey and the legacy he left behind on my new single Havana Nights.If my Abuelito was here, I know he'd dance all night to it.

Blurred backdrop for WITHIN THE CONFINES OF YOU
Album cover for WITHIN THE CONFINES OF YOU

WITHIN THE CONFINES OF YOU

Valerie Toledo2023

We all have confines others suggest for us, but only we can make them into Real places. Sometimes, the things that happen to us stay inside us for so long that they begin to take form and change over time. They take over our minds and we get stuck there. I didn’t mind living in that place — it helped me make this record. For me, my great loves and heartbreaks took the form of the open ocean, a ship, a storm, a war, a different era, dreams, novels, and an imagined future, coalescing into an asylum I lived in voluntarily. This record is about those places I got stuck in, how I gripped the keys to my own confines. But it’s also about how I broke out. WITHIN THE CONFINES OF YOU, Valerie's debut album, will be out on October 13, 2023.

Blurred backdrop for Roses - Single
Album cover for Roses - Single

Roses - Single

Valerie Toledo2023

"Someday, I hope I get to live in New York."I can't count how many times that sentence came out of my mouth as a teenager.For many people, just getting to New York is victory, a sure sign you've made it. Why is going to New York such a common dream? Movies? TV? Music?Is it indicative of some shared consciousness, of some innate need to be in that city? Or is it something more sinister?I thought that if I moved to the right city, got the right job, made the right amount of money, and met the right people, I'd "make it."After a few months atrophying in a New York office, I realized the scheme. Make the city so compact, artificial, and distant from nature that you can't distinguish between your work and your life.Nature reminds us of leisure, leisure reminds us that it's 10pm and we're still in the office. A cage of mirrored glass and concrete keeps you from leaving.When I got stuck living there it was hard to adjust knowing the city was killing me, eroding my humanity.But around the same time Jorge taught me about gratitude journaling, God planted a cherry blossom outside my window. It made the exercise a little easier.Despite the misery outside my apartment, I found home in Jorge. Home is not where you live, home is where you feel alive.That's what Roses is about.

Blurred backdrop for 1945 - Single
Album cover for 1945 - Single

1945 - Single

Valerie Toledo2023

1945 is one of the first songs I ever wrote. It started off as a poem I wrote in high school, made its way into my voice memos about 2 years ago, and somehow became what you're listening to today. With 1945, I wanted to capture a few things.That war-like feeling of loving someone but also wanting the upper hand.That headstrong insistence that the other person should surrender, even if you know it will annihilate the two of you.That sensation where you can't tell if you're flying to the best thing ever or falling toward a watery grave.I hope 1945 captures something for you. And if it doesn't, I hope you'll at least dance to the beat.