Yonaka frontwoman Theresa Jarvis grew up in a small town in Kent, which didn’t exactly cater to her burning desire to play music. “It was ridiculous. In my [music] class there were four of us, I don’t know how we made it work really. It was shitty; no one was even good,” she laughs.
“I was always writing music, I had this little songwriting thing with my friend when I was younger, and we started doing covers, but we wrote like two songs! Then I moved to Brighton, and it helped loads because everyone’s doing music and everyone’s really good. It was great to be surrounded by people who wanted to do the same thing. None of my friends back home were into music.”
“We’ve all been friends for about seven years,” she says of her fellow bandmates. “Not good friends, but we met and were all doing our own thing, doing our own projects, but nothing was clicking. Then we got together, and it was weird how good it was. It made us feel really good, and we were like, ‘Wow this is it!’ So we’ve been together for about three years now and gigging for two and a half.”
“The best thing [about being in Brighton] is it’s a very small place; it’s easier than London to get your name around the town a bit. Everyone knows what’s going on. The bad thing is that there’s a type of music in Brighton, and I think everyone’s doing the same thing, so it gets a bit samey. It’s rocky, grungey, psychy kind of music; there’s very little dance music.”
Yonaka meanwhile have a distinct tribal dark pop sound. “It just happened,” she explains. “We all have different influences; I feel it was a mashup of that. It’s quite tribal and a mixture of pop… we just sat down and started playing, and the sound happened, and we were like, ‘Wow this is really good!’.”
This summer, Yonaka are set for big festivals, including Reading & Leeds, despite only having a handful of singles out. “[We’re] so excited about that,” she says. “We’ve got three songs out, but we’ve got so much recorded. It feels great and playing with [bands like] Drenge… we’re really good friends with them now. It’s nice making the connections and friendships through it.
“We feel like we’re a bit of a slow burner,” she laughs, “but we feel like it’s a good slow burner and collecting the right fans for the right reasons. We don’t want to be a quick buzz band; we want to be there for a long time, we’re in it for the long haul! I believe in it. I’ve never felt like that before in anything else I’ve done.”
“We’ve been recording so much; we’ve got like fifteen songs already,” Theresa continues. “We’ve been working with two different people, Ross Orton who does Artic Monkeys, and we’ve recently started working with someone called Rodaih McDonald [The xx, Savages, The Horrors], and he’s awesome. They’re both different ends of the spectrum with how they work, but they’re both incredible.
“Before we went on tour [with Berlin’s Gurr], we did like four weeks in the studio, and we’ve been back and forth from Sheffield recording with Ross. We want to do a music video as we’ve never done one before, getting all our artwork together. It’s a progression. ‘Ignorance’ was one of the first songs we wrote, and then ‘Drongo’, and ‘Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya’ is more recent, but it still keeps a theme throughout. There are lots of different sounds, it all works together, but they all sound like their own thing.”
And as for the future: “I hope that we achieve success, we want to do this for a living, and we are so passionate about what we do. It’s been so weird on this tour, the people that have been coming, they’ve been singing along to the words, and it’s such an incredible feeling; you’re just so in love with every person in the room. It’s so lovely that all these people are there, and they believe in what you’re doing. We just want to get an album out, want to get more songs out, we want to be doing what we can and living the dream.”
Taken from the July issue of Upset – order your copy below.