Valley Sixteen’s newest single, “Side Effects,” is an all-consuming lament about a toxic relationship. Valley Sixteen’s vocals and soundtrack emphasize the struggle and toll the relationship took on her.
“A few years ago, I found myself in an extremely toxic relationship with someone years older than me. Without realizing it, the relationship spiraled into an extreme depressive episode - causing me to take 3 months (literally) off school,” Valley Sixteen writes. “So, as a big fuck you, I wrote, produced, and recorded 'Side Effects' on the floor of my apartment in Cape Town, and later, brought the track for further production with the super talented South African producer, "Spectr".”
Opening with a siren-like call, Valley Sixteen begins singing about how she felt around her ex-partner. Her vivid, sick-like imagery emphasized how poorly she felt being with her ex. Relating her ex and the relationship to a really bad sickness (which it was) forces listeners to understand how bad and problematic toxic relationships are. They need to be taken seriously and are extremely harmful.
Her deep vocals are full of emotion, capturing the listeners attention. I was completely enthralled and entranced by her singing. Sometimes her vocals vibrated, conveying a feeling of brokenness and being pulled apart.
At some moments in “Side Effects,” both Valley Sixteen’s singing and the song’s soundtrack quiet down. It contrasts with other parts of the song that are loud and harsh, rightfully angry and hurt. The contrast of the quietness eerily strengthens the pain and emotions Valley Sixteen feels. She wants to be heard and her feelings acknowledged by her ex, and she knows screaming and yelling for help will do no good.
A lyric that stood out to me was, “The symptoms I've been living with / Are making me get lovesick.” Normally lovesickness is romanticized so that it’s a symbol of how much one means to another. However, Valley Sixteen turns that on its head, emphasizing that lovesickness isn’t always good. For her, lovesick is still loving someone even though they hurt you so much. She’s aware of how bad the relationship was and how badly it affected her, yet she still can’t shake her feelings for her ex.
“Side Effects” is a powerful single worthy of everyone’s time. Keep an eye out for more beautiful, captivating, and strong songs from Valley Sixteen.
Valley Sixteen is the moniker of 21-year-old Gabi du Plessis. A singer, songwriter, and producer, du Plessis is based in South Africa and Germany. At 17-years-old, du Plessis performed on Idols South Africa, exiting after a hurtful comment about her voice. After writing for many artists, du Plessis is back, sharing her voice and music. Starting this month with her single “Side Effects,” du Plessis is releasing a single each month. Through her music, du Plessis aims to “bring an honest, non-glamourized perspective to matters of the heart and mental health.”
Written by Anne Friedman