Now touring on the release of their debut EP Heavy, Brighton four-piece YONAKA have been one of British alt-rocks’ most up-and-coming acts in late 2017. Known for blending heavy rock and powerful guitar riffs with hip-hop infused popular sound, YONAKA have consistently wowed audiences thus far. Exeposé caught up with lead vocalist Theresa, who talked to us about defining genres, writing processes, and how they go about bringing their trademark energy to their live shows.
Firstly, congratulations on the recent release of your debut EP, Heavy! Reception so far seems to have been great, and well deserved at that!
Thank you! It felt good to release our first EP, and we feel very proud of it.
The EP has a real energy to it. Where does this come from – any key influences, and/or important parts of the creative process that really help you achieve such vigour?
We have quite an energetic live show where we can’t stand still, so our music is very much like that. When writing we usually start with vocals and guitar; I will have a melody or there will be a riff, we get a skeleton of the whole song and then go into rehearsal and put the song together as a whole.
We are giving it some heavy pop, I reckon
How did YONAKA come together as a band? Once together, did you find you all set out with a similar vision, or are there different contributing ideas which make up your direction and stylistic choices?
We all met in Brighton and have been friends for around seven years now. We were all doing different things musically, and then me and Rob started playing together – and then George, and then Alex, and it came together so naturally and felt so right. We all grew up on different music but all have similar tastes so it just worked.
For those who haven’t had the chance to hear your music yet – what are they missing out on? How would you describe your sound?
We are giving it some heavy pop, I reckon!
There are a lot of exciting, female-led alt-rock groups which have come to prevalence in the past few years, yourselves of course included. What are your opinions on this new movement in the music world? You’ve said in previous interviews that you don’t always want to just be pinned into that sort of category; why is that?
Yeah; if the music’s good, and you love it, then I’m not sure why it should have a title. It’s the same thing, right? We are all making music and going at it. I feel like it’s a good time for music right now – there’s so much amazing talent around.
You guys have had what must have been a hectic year, and a particularly busy summer, playing at Reading & Leeds amongst a whole host of other shows. You’re now on tour for the next few months; how do you approach your live shows, and what can we expect from this tour?
It has been great and we just want to do more and more. We love playing: it’s such a rush, and to play with people who love your music and to share the experience is just amazing. It’s a long journey that can be slow sometimes, but when it goes it goes! We just kill it as much as we can in the 30/40 minute space we are given – we wait around all day for that moment, so we aren’t gonna waste it!
A dream collaboration would be a tour with Kendrick Lamar and Marilyn Manson
Can we look forward to a full album in the near future?
So hopefully we will have an album out to you by the end of next year. It has to be the right time; we are writing a lot at the moment and feel we are getting better. We have a few songs already that will be on the album, and will just keep going until we feel it is complete.
Having picked up such momentum already, surely the only way is up for YONAKA now. What are a few of your ultimate goals as a band – venues to play, milestones to reach, maybe even dream collaborations or touring partnerships?
Yes! The only way is up – to go up and to stay up! We want to get out to America and get around Europe next year, and also play venues like Brixton Academy, do the festival circuit again ten times over and more. A dream collaboration would be a tour with Kendrick Lamar and Marilyn Manson.