Yours Truly: “We need honesty in all aspects of our lives. I don’t want to portray something I don’t believe in”

In writing Yours Truly’s new EP, vocalist Mikaila Delgado underwent “this really unglamorous self-discovery”. Now, with the band coming into their own, the singer is determined to show the world who she really is – at all times…

Yours Truly: “We need honesty in all aspects of our lives. I don’t want to portray something I don’t believe in”
Emma Wilkes
Olli Appleyard

Barely anything was normal about Yours Truly’s debut album cycle. That’s how it went from the off – the day after the LP, Self Care, was completed, Australia went into lockdown. While its sugary melodies, bright riffs and introspective yet hopeful lyrics were a tonic in a pessimistic time, the pandemic denied Self Care a chance to spread its wings as much as it deserved – especially in a live setting. Although the band’s home country was briefly the envy of the world when it opened live music up again before most other places, Yours Truly only got to squeeze in a couple of shows before restrictions tightened again. “In Sydney, there were these random times when you were allowed to get together in groups of three or four, then you were only allowed to spend time with one person [at a time],” remembers vocalist Mikaila Delgado. “The laws were constantly changing.”

The band’s label, UNFD, suggested they do some B-sides in order to push the album again. In desperate need of something to do, they agreed, originally envisioning the project as a three-track EP titled Self Sabotage. “It was supposed to be the dark side of Self Care,” Mikaila explains. When they got to writing, however, they just couldn’t stop (“It was so hard to pick three songs because we were just loving what we were writing!”). Indeed, their new material was practically in another postcode from Self Care, so Yours Truly decided this new EP – which became seven tracks long rather than three – would mark the start of a new era entirely. Its new title came from the last line of its final song, Lights On – is this what I look like?

“Having no pressure on ourselves to write anything in particular allowed us to try things that we didn’t think we were allowed to do,” says Mikaila. Said things range from pulsating electronics to vocal effects to breakdowns, sounds the band could have never imagined they would incorporate within their music. “I never, ever wanted to have electronics in our music. But then we figured out a way to do it that came from an organic place. The electronic parts on Lights On are literally [recordings of] Lochie’s [Cronin, guitarist] voice that we messed around with and made sounds out of. It’s not a synth sound you get on your computer – we actually made it.”

They form the building blocks of a frequently darker, heavier sound. The catchiness of Yours Truly’s earlier pop-punk days is still ever-present, most prominently in the grooving Careless Kind, while the Josh Franceschi collaboration Hallucinate spices up post-hardcore with influences of drum’n’bass and Walk Over My Grave laces its gritty dramatics with frustrated angst. It’s the most distinct, ambitious and creative this band have ever been, proving how much they are capable of while still sounding, for all their growth, like themselves. “[This EP] allowed us to find the band we wanted to be, which is the band that we probably were underneath.”

Mikaila wants to emphasise that is this what I look like? is not strictly a pandemic project – there’s nothing about COVID or anything associated with it. Instead, it’s more specific and personal than that, although its emotions certainly sprung from the environment of lockdown. “The songs are about the internal conversations I had with myself while I was going through [during] the pandemic,” the singer says. “The next chapter of my lyricism began literally the day that we went into lockdown.”

While Self Care saw Mikaila contemplating her relationships with others, is this what I look like? is an exploration of her relationship with herself, which she’d neglected since she’d been swept away into the life of a touring band, and had other, external things to attend to. “I never took time for myself,” she reveals, “I felt like I had to reintroduce myself to myself as a person because I had been in this band since I was 16, 17, and my identity was to do with being in a band. Once I no longer had it that it all started to spiral for me. I started to lose a lot of respect for myself. I had to go through this really unglamorous self-discovery.”

It was also around this time that Mikaila made her first trip to therapy. As useful as it was, a lot of the work she was doing, she realised, she was already doing through writing music. “Writing songs and hearing them back helped me to overcome things,” she begins. “It involves a lot of unpacking, but I’m doing it in a way that I know is rewarding.” Writing Hallucinate, in particular, was especially powerful, a way of getting something productive and positive out of her experiences living with anxiety: “Anxiety destroys a lot of my experiences and makes processing things harder for me. When there’s something about yourself that you don’t like, turning it into art or something like that makes you feel like it’s worth [something]. That’s why art is such an outlet for people.”

This approach means that everything Yours Truly release remains brutally honest. It’s an approach Mikaila carries into the rest of her life, particularly on social media. If she’s having a bad mental health day, she’ll tweet about it. If her physical health is confining her to bed, she’ll talk about it too. It’s her own way of cutting through the ultra-shiny highlights reel that social media so frequently is, which can only serve to someone’s bad day into a worse day when it seems everyone is happier and achieving more than them. “I feel like we need honesty in all aspects of our lives. I don’t want to portray something I don’t believe in.”

Ultimately, she’s giving any fans who are struggling music to relate to. Not just that – she gives them all of her.

“I feel like they deserve to see the real version of me all the time.”

is this what i look like? is released on July 15 via UNFD

Check out more:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?