Musically, Valora could be considered fans of hard rock bands such as Muse and Foo Fighters, but within the band’s style flows an expanse of rock influences. “My favorite bands center around a great vocalist,” Syd says. “Any band that has a killer front person, I’m gonna be interested.”
A California native, Syd grew up in Uptown Whittier. Though she started taking voice and guitar lessons around age 11, it was much earlier when she first knew music was her destiny. At age 5, she heard the National Anthem sung at a Dodger game, and that was it. But having a direction didn’t mean she had an easy time of it.
“I was different,” she says. “Being an outsider made me a little lonely, but that’s what made me what I am now.” She wasn’t one of the cool kids, but she began writing and playing some cool rock ‘n’ roll with a chosen few who understood her. Musically, Syd’s influences spanned genres and generations, including gospel singer Yolanda Adams, Jack White, Janis Joplin, Chrissie Hynde, Jeff Buckley and Muse. On stage, Syd notes, “I liked to channel flamboyant male artists. I like Iggy Pop and Chris Robinson. Both have that seductive, intriguing side of a woman coupled with the strength and power that’s traditionally thought of as male.”
She and her band began knocking on music industry doors, and eventually some of them opened. For a paltry $500, an early incarnation of Valora snuck into Whittier High after hours and shot their own DIY video for “I Waited For You,” which intrigued Hollywood Records execs. Cut to Syd paying a visit to the label. “I was asked to play one of my songs for them right then and there,” she recalls. “All I had was this out-of-tune guitar, but it was one of those ‘no turning back’ moments. I walked out with a record deal.”