Edward Burnett chats to Brighton rock band YONAKA's Theresa Jarvis about what the band's debut album meant to them, why it is so great to live in Brighton and why she now wants to pick up playing chess.
RNRR: Hi YONAKA! First of all, how are you doing Theresa? Would you say that you have been managing to deal with the pandemic and lockdown well?
YONAKA: Hello, I’m doing well thanks! Lockdown has its ups and downs, a lot of music has been made and also to have the time to really think was nice. Yet at the same time I’m so ready to play shows and see all our fans again.
RNRR: Going back to the very start, what is your earliest musical memory? What was the first song, album or artist which majorly influenced you at a young age?
YONAKA: My earliest musical memory was dancing and singing along to the Spice Girls, Tina Turner and lots of Motown. Then the first time I sang in front of an audience was in a school play and I was dressed as a mouse singing S Club 7’s ‘Never Had a Dream Come True’ [laughs]. As for influences it was Whitney Houston for me. I was obsessed with trying to sing her big notes which I for sure did not hit! Pink and Mariah Carey were also important artists for me when I was younger.
RNRR: So on May 31st 2019 you released your debut album ‘Don’t Wait ’Til Tomorrow’. What is your proudest achievement from doing this? How great was it to finally have an entire album of your own on physical copy?
YONAKA: This was super exciting for us to have an album, our first album, a big piece of work. The most joy we get from it is from the fans. To know that we’ve touched somebody’s life with music that we have written is incredible especially when it has a positive effect. In that album I talk a lot about mental health and my own struggles which I know is a topic that a lot of people relate to. Many share the same experience so to know that it could have potentially helped is BIG news for us. Also just people hearing it and the crowd singing it along with me at the shows.
RNRR: The album is an intense, energy-charged ride which encapsulates themes of commitment and underlying devotion. Was it always the idea to cover these sort of topics and are they influenced by your own life experiences?
YONAKA: Yes the album is about my own experiences and ones that I have found people who are dear to me go through also. I didn’t intentionally mean to write about this stuff but it was the only thing I could write about and it was consuming my life. I found when I wrote about other people’s experiences it made me feel better.
RNRR: All of us in the musical world are missing being able to attend gigs and festivals greatly due to the current COVID pandemic. What would you say was your best show before lockdown? A gig where you really connected with the crowd and everything just went right?
YONAKA: It was our last london headline show for sure. The energy was on fire and it just felt like magic. I mean that whole tour was magic to be honest. When the room is literally electric, aghhh! I can’t wait for it to come back.
RNRR: So the most important news coming from your camp this year is the preview of your new music we got this summer. ‘Ordinary’ debuted during your live performance on Twitch back in July. Is this going to be your next single to be released? The song is about getting away from a situation or time in your life which is no longer right and not settling for the norm anymore. What inspired this song and why did you choose to release it during this summer? Have you got more new music in the pipeline?
YONAKA: So ‘Ordinary’ isn’t actually the next single to be released, we just wanted to give a sneak of what we’ve been doing. We’ve actually got a big single dropping early next year and it’s just ahhhhhhhhhh my favourite! It’s so BIG and empowering! I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. ‘Ordinary’ is great we are just putting finishing touches on it in the studio. It is taking its time but we’re turning it on it’s head. We have so much music ready now!
RNRR: You recently covered Taylor Swift’s ‘You Need To Calm Down’ for Spotify. How was that to cover? Is there any other songs you’re desperate to cover either on record or when live music shows are resumed?
YONAKA: Ahhh yes! Taylor Swift is just AMAZING and that song was so much fun to cover! I have recently been working on a little ‘Happy Together’ by The Turtles.
RNRR: So away from the musical side of things, what are your biggest interests and hobbies? Have you watched anything good while in lockdown?
YONAKA: I love to cook and actually I just watched ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ on Netflix so now I wanna learn chess so let’s see!
RNRR: With the group being based in Brighton in the UK, what would you say is the biggest charm to Brighton? There is the seaside of course but what else allows you to really call it home?
YONAKA: So yeah the seaside is the best, then The Lanes is super cute. I dunno it’s just nice it’s like chilled and fresh air. I really like that you can look out at the sea for miles and not stop, it’s so beautiful.
RNRR: Finally is the most important question we ask all our guests. If you were stranded on a desert island (which somehow has electricity!) and you can only play one album ever again, what is each member picking and why?
YONAKA: Ok so I would choose either ‘The College Dropout’ by Kanye West or Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’. For George it’s ‘Doris’ by Earl Sweatshirt. Rob has picked ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac. Finally Alex has gone with ‘Voodoo’ by D’Angelo!
RNRR: Some smart and varied selections there guys! Thank you for your time and I’m definitely not alone in saying that I’m very much looking forward to what comes next from you!
(Photo: Rory Barnes)
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