After being recognised by the likes of NME and Kerrang!, noted as the ones to watch, YONAKA have had to add several dates to their adrenaline ridden shows. With no signs of stopping, the chaos causing foursome aim to take the world by storm. You can check out their EP Heavy on Spotify now.
Can you just tell me who all of the members are and what they do?
I’m Theresa, the lead singer. Then we’ve got Alex who plays bass. We’ve got George who play the guitar and Rob who plays the drums.
And how did you guys meet?
We’ve been friends for quite a while. We all met in Brighton in university 7 years ago. We were always around each other but never played together or anything like that. I was like in the same year but I dropped out and then ended up going back, so I graduated a year later. Then about a year after that we started making music together and we just sounded really good.
So you were like let’s just start a band and see what happens?
Yeah, it was really great so we all dropped everything outside of the band and made it our main priority.
Why have you called the band YONAKA?
It means midnight in Japanese. We wanted it to be a dark thing. We listen to a lot of Jeff Buckley who is one on my favourite artists in the world. His music is so sad. It’s the only music that actually makes me cry. It’s not happy music – not like pop music in the charts. I always felt that music had to be upbeat and happy but when I listened to him, I realised you can write about whatever you want. And so, we wanted to represent something dark but didn’t want to be called Midnight because that sounds shit. One of my friends is half Asian and was like oh by the way, yonaka is Japanese for midnight and that was it.
What genre would you say you guys come under?
I would say its like a mixture, hip hop, pop, rock. We all come from different musical backgrounds so it’s just a mould of different sounds. I feel like genres disappearing you know like Goth’s and Emo’s. You don’t get set things anymore which I think is good. I sometimes miss it because it was nice having your own little crew but I also think its good because you can just draw over so many different people’s interests. Everyone loves a bit of everything now which is good because it helps us.
What music do you listen to?
I listen to a lot of Billie Eilish at the moment, I love her. I love Amy Winehouse and Jeff Buckley. I’ve been listening to a lot of David Bowie because I never kind of had my fix with him, which is quite embarrassing because I’m 25 but now I’m really getting in to it. I listen to a lot of rap, a lot of hip hop. I love listening to things that don’t sound like the instrument they’re being played on. I think we try to do that in our music as well. It’s cool if you can get a guitar to sound like a cat screaming or something like that.
What kind of things do you write about?
I write things from my personal experience so it’s very close to my heart. A lot of the stuff I write is from family experiences and stuff that really effects me. I’m very connected to my emotions and the way I feel about things like love and hate and being told what to do. I find it hard to write about the world and stuff that’s going on like politics. I care about it so much but I can’t write about it. I like to try and write in a way that everyone can connect to it.
What would you say your favourite track is that you’ve written and why?
I love Ignorance because I feel like when I wrote it I didn’t really know what I was talking about but, a few years later, I really understand it. I read this thing the other day about Florence and The Machine; she is writing a book and one part is about having premonitions when you write songs. How they don’t make sense until a few years later and I totally had that with Igornance so I have a special connection with that song. We also wrote this new song called Fucking With The Boss and it just feels so good and I feel so empowered when I sing it. You know when you’re just fed up of people telling you what to do.
You’ve been shortlisted for Live Act of the Year at the Independent Festival Awards. Is there anything out of the ordinary about your performances?
I always want it to go full on crazy, I just want people to be doing like backflips and stuff. Last night was really funny, we did Brighton and people started a mosh pit and my mum was just in the middle of it. I couldn’t sing the song because I was laughing too much. I just saw her face but my mum’s a little hard nut she just started pushing everyone.
But no we just want people to go crazy because I find people get scared and don’t move sometimes. They’re like, “are other people watching me move?” or whatever but I think that’s what we really try and do with our music. We want it to be a place where you can just be like, “fuck it”. You can just totally be yourself and feel like you’re in a room when nobody’s watching you and totally lose yourself.
You seem to be growing pretty fast?
It doesn’t feel like it’s going fast. I think it’s because we just just want to be everywhere doing everything all the time. We want it to go full throttle basically. We are starting to sell out some of shows which feels amazing. Doing a support slot is great but when you do your own show and people turn up its like, “they’re actually here for us”. That feeling of success is just amazing.
Do you think you’ll ever try America?
Yeah course, that’s like 100%.
You’ve released an EP. What are you guys working on now?
We made a video the other day for Run so we are going to be releasing that and we are going to release another song very soon, Fucking with The Boss. We have been writing so much so we are going to go into recording and just release as much as possible. We wanna release an album but I don’t think that will be until next year because we are still little.
Do you ever find it difficult to write all of your own material?
We find it quite hard to write when we are touring but it just means we get backed up with all these ideas so when we do go to write, there’s tons. I always have my phone on me just like whacking ideas and melodies in every 5 seconds. It’s quite rare that we don’t carry on with a song but there are a few that we just stop and tried something else. It’s all an experiment really.
Who have been the best people to support and why?
When we did the Frank Carter, tour that was really great. We watched them every night and they never got boring. They never hold back.
If you could tour with anyone in the world, dead or alive who would it be?
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
10 billion times better than where we are now. We want to make it. We want to be doing it for the rest of our lives. We want it to happen. We want to start cracking the world basically.
“YONAKA play The Garage, London on February 28”
HEAVY EP, out now: https://atlanti.cr/heavy-ep
Photographer: Niklas Haze
Production: Lilian Buechner
Stylist: Kirubel Belay
Hair & Make Up: Reve Ryu