Brighton based band Yonaka- Theresa Jarvis- Singer, Alex Crosby- Bassist and George Edwards- Guitarist (minus Robert Mason- Drummer, he was busy) spent their sunny morning before their album listening party at The Great Escape with me chatting about music making, mental health and people or seagulls screaming….
How did you guys get into music?
Theresa: I knew I wanted to sing for like ever, but probably in secondary school actually in primary school. I’ve always wanted to sing- it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. I’m from Folkestone- music isn’t really existent there, at my school I did music A level, there was only three of us in a class you know, so really there wasn’t that many people there doing music. So then I come to Brighton for Uni and it was actually nice to be surrounded by people who love music and want to do the same thing so its quite inspiring and it made you feel good about it. We’d all been friends for like 4 years or something or really, then after Uni all got together playing and it just felt really great, started from then.
Talk to me about you songwriting process, what is that like?
Theresa: Melodies and Lyrics, sometimes they come at the same time and that’s like really crazy but you have an idea in your head and just bust out with a ‘de-de-de-de’…
Alex: …like phonetics
Theresa: Yeah it’s different with those; we like to keep it fresh when we write. So sometimes we’ll like to start with a melody, sometimes we start with a riff or we use the computer and just make a beat on it or something. It depends on whatever is there to begin with so sort of like “oh I’ve got an idea” and we’ll go with that or sometimes from scratch we get somewhere and we start something. So we keep it fresh all the time because we don’t wanna like get trapped in this kind of system where we end up writing the same song.
George: Yeah it’s good to mix up songs and have something different. Like if you can take from different prospective you wouldn’t have done it before, so it opens up to more ideas.
Theresa: Also doing it on a computer is so sick because you can mess around with so many different sounds, like get that bird clucking sound and just wack it in a song and it’s really good. (It was so noisy because of the seagulls surrounding the area, that’s all you could hear throughout the interview- so we couldn’t stop mentioning it.)When you were younger, who did you musically look up to like who inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
George: It was my friend back home for me cause we said about getting into music, I used to play hockey and then I got an injury so I couldn’t play anymore. I ended up doing music, that how I got into it. But it was my friend that kind of spurred me at the time and just like loads of different things. When I started music I would listen to some really bad stuff, like you have to go that way. Like I was a heavy music fan, big old Bullet fan back in the day- side fringe on the go. And then I moved on to Jimi Hendrix, Omar Rodriguez -lopez and stuff like that.
Alex: Our pictures on our provisionals all look exactly like back in the day with the side fringe covering half of our faces.
Theresa: I used to listen to like loads of Whitney Houston, lots of massive pop singers like Mariah Carey, lots of Meat Loaf- but that was when I was younger, that’s because my mum loves Meat Loaf and lots of Motown, I love Motown. I used to love The Shangri-Las, The Marvelettes, The Temptations- that was from when I was younger. Now I listen to lots of different stuff, probably my main inspiration is Jeff Buckley, Amy Winehouse- like classics.
What inspired your album ‘Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow’, what’s the message behind it?
Theresa: the message is, you’re not alone like there’s so much shit going on right and you can always feel like you’re on your own and like your mental health can like really get you down. It’s scary because you can get to a point where you’re like “fuck what am I doing, is this ok?” The message from song and title of the album ‘Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow’ is that you’re not alone, there are other people going through the same thing like reach out to someone who can help you.
What song on the album is probably one of your favourite songs?
Theresa: for me it’s ‘Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow’ musically its such a journey and there’s a few actually.
Alex: it’s either that or Punch Bag, which is one of the heavier more riff orientated song, so it’s really fun to play live. But it’s definitely between that and the title track.
Since you’ve mentioned and are very open to talking all things mental health, how would you help and inspire people to be more vocal?
Theresa: The thing is to speak out not to lock yourself away in your own mind because sometimes that happens and you get scared to say something like you’d think “what if someone thinks this because I’ve said this?” you know? And it’s really easy to get caught up in your own thoughts. What I’m trying to say is I’ve gone through a lot of anxiety with myself and it makes you feel really shit, you feel like you’re all alone but when I knew somebody else had felt the same as me in that area- I felt a bit better. So it’s kinda just to let everyone know that if you’re not feeling ok, speak to someone about it.What are you all into more, performing live or recording in a studio?
Theresa: Performing live all day long
George: Yeah performing live.
Alex: Recording in a studio..
Theresa: Al’s the studio nerd, you love it don’t you?
Alex: I love both, but if I had to pick one definitely the recording in a studio. Because you can just get super creative, and getting to experiment.
Theresa: I just love the adrenaline.
George: Yeah, I was just going to say the adrenaline is just so addictive isn’t it?!
Theresa: And when you’re playing to your crowd, they’re singing with you and it’s just an amazing feeling and everyone jumping going mad. It’s surreal!
You guys started the band in Brighton, to play The Great Escape a Brighton based festival, how does that feel?
Theresa: We’ve never done this before, we are quite a little bit nervous to be honest, because we are going to do an album playback which we’ve never done before so we’re really excited for everyone to hear the tracks and then we’re doing to do a stripped back session of the tracks off the album.
Are you guys working with anyone at the moment, are you working with any producers or other musicians?
Theresa: Well, we’ve produced the album ourselves so we’re not working with any producers at the moment.
Alex: We have had other people remix our stuff like Granson.
Theresa: He’s sick actually! Oh and I really like Yung Blud. I think we’ll try to do collabs on our second album but the first one I think is quite important to staple us.
What shall we look out for in the future and have you got tours or any other stuff coming up?
George: Yeah we start the second leg of our headline tour in a couple of days actually, we start in Europe and then we have a headline show in London on 30th May and then All Points East 31st May. (which is tonight!!)
Theresa: The mosh of the day
George: Yeah the mosh of the day, we have a busy couple of months. It’s exciting though.
Theresa: We’re also going to America in June and loads of festivals. We have a busy few months coming up which is great, cause we are ready for it and our album is coming out on the 31st May! (Which is today!!)
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKAELA SPITERI
WORDS BY ROJAN SAID