YONAKA: “If I can share my experience and someone hears it and understands, that’s a big deal for me”

As YONAKA return with new EP Welcome To My House – which welcomes listeners into vocalist Theresa Jarvis’ life through seven unique songs – the band talk mental health, not being pigeonholed and becoming a trio…

YONAKA: “If I can share my experience and someone hears it and understands, that’s a big deal for me”
James Hingle
Brian Ziff

YONAKA have been busy in the past few months, with the release of PANIC, Welcome To My House and Give Me My Halo all showcasing the exciting new phase of this band. Following the release of debut album Don’t Wait ’Til Tomorrow in 2019 and mixtape Seize The Power in 2021, the Brighton collective have now brought this all to a head with new EP Welcome To My House.

The trio launch their sonically-charged record with the anthemic charms of By The Time You’re Reading This, which shows their aspirations to fill the bigger stages on offer. The seven-track EP doesn’t conform to one genre, with YONAKA dipping into wonderfully crafted pop hooks and gritty rock oomph. Basically: it’s an EP to quench any palette.

We caught up with the band to find out more about their latest chapter…

Welcome To My House is finally upon us! Are you happy to have this labour of love out in the world now?
Theresa Jarvis (vocals): “Yeah, we’re excited! We’ve put out three songs already, and they’ve gone down really nicely. I am looking forward to everyone getting to hear the whole thing. I’m interested to see what has grabbed people’s attention the most because it’s quite a varied EP. It’s not like one specific genre, or one specific concept.”
George Werbrouck-Edwards (guitar): “I think the stuff we’ve already released, the fans have been pretty open minded towards – especially with our style shifts. It’s good to put out different kinds of music and it goes down well. Hopefully it continues that way.”

Talking of changing your style and mixing up genres, is it important to you to not pigeonhole yourselves?
“Yeah, I feel like when we are writing it comes from a feeling and a mood, rather than kind of just being like, ‘Okay, now we have this kind of rocky song, so let’s write another rocky song.’ We base it on: ‘If it feels good, then let’s write it.’”

You’re launching your new EP with the release of By The Time You’re Reading This. Was this song in particular one you wanted to save for release day?
“That song is quite upbeat, fast-paced and really fun, and so we’re using By The Time You’re Reading This to kind of head up this EP. The song is about living in the moment and it’s a feel-good song. It’s just loud and fast!”

You’ve also made a music video for each track as well. Was that something done over time, or did you do all of that back-to-back?
“We filmed them back-to-back. We spent one day filming the PANIC video and that was like a full video where there were different scenes, and all this kind of stuff. And then we filmed five videos the next day – we are actually calling them visualisers because they’re not like moving scenes actually. But yeah, it was pretty intense!”

Is there a running narrative through each video? Would you like fans to watch them in a certain order?
“They do stand on their own, but I would like people to watch the videos in the tracklist order. Even though the songs on the EP don’t necessarily fall into each other or tell a story, but there is a certain way that you can listen to it that feels like you’re on a little roller coaster. And you’re going like, ‘Yeahhhhh!’ and then you come down for a second. It feels like that.”

A lot of Welcome To My House comes from Theresa’s lived experiences. Was it a cathartic experience writing these songs?
“Yeah, it was really cathartic. It’s nice to get it out of my head and onto paper! I’ve really benefited from hearing about other people’s experiences through life – especially when it comes down to things like mental health. If I can share my experience, and someone hears it and understands that, ‘Oh, I’m not fucking crazy,’ and that they’re not freaking out on their own then that’s a big deal for me. Because they’re not alone in that, and I’m not alone in that. It feels good, and it just pours out. Sometimes I’ll write a melody and I’ll have to make words to the melody, and then sometimes when it’s just right there the words come out at the same time as the melody.”

Is that how you guys normally come up with melodies?
Alex Crosby (bass): “Sometimes it can even just be a voice note. You just get an idea and then you’re scrambling to find your phone just to get a little teeny idea or something down. There’s been a few occasions on this EP where voice notes have actually ended up on the recording – on Welcome To My House, there’s one right in the middle. It was just an acoustic sound from my phone, and we couldn’t really get that sound anywhere else, there was something about just what we captured on that. But the sound of it is sort of charming: imperfect things, and just capturing something in the moment, can be really nice.”

Lastly, YONAKA are a three-piece now, with drummer Rob Mason having departed the band earlier this year. How’s that going?
“Yeah, it’s been good. We still get drummers on board, because we still need drums! We’re still working it out and it’s a massive change that has had to happen, but we are enjoying it. Things do happen for a reason and changes do come, and it just depends how you roll with them. You either freeze and you go, ‘Fuck!’ or you just keep rolling and you make it into a positive.”
“For now, in terms of writing music, it’s going to be the three of us.”

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