We talk upbringing, inspiration, EPs and upcoming shows with post-punk powerhouse Ynes.
After releasing her third single of the year ‘God’s Little Punching Bag‘ recently, British-Canadian singer-songwriter Ynes is targeting a big finish 2021.
We caught up with Ynes this week to talk all things music and get a vibe for what we can expect from her over the next few months.
Check out the interview below and find out how Kate Nash influenced her, why she’s sick of being angry, and whether there are any plans for an Ynes album on the horizon.
SUR: Hi, Ynes, how are you? Although this is the first time we’ve spoken in person (virtually) we’ve covered two or three of your songs on SUR, so I feel like we already know you so well! How’s everything going? You’re everywhere right now aren’t you!?
Ynes: Yeah, totally! Yeah, I mean, every little thing that happens, I’m just like… I don’t understand how this has happened. In a good way. But, no, it’s really nice.
After the last year and a half to know that I haven’t lost… everything, you know what I mean?
So, to give those who don’t know you a little bit of background. Am I right in saying you were born in Coventry, moved to Canada, and now live in Coventry again?
Yeah, my dad – well, my family are from Canada which is how I could make the move in the first place. But I was born here because he (her dad) moved here. Then moved to Canada when I was 19 for a couple of years.
It wasn’t a massively musical time, but it allowed me to not be around the people I’d always been around. I suppose that helps in music because it gives you a sense of fearlessness.
We know there isn’t much, in terms of dramatic cultural differences between the two countries. But were there any artists who, kind of, inspired you as a result of that British-Canadian movement or “culture”, do you think?
Yeah, so I think it’s weird to explain, but… obviously there’s a lot of britpop artists that I take a lot of inspiration from. But I think that’s probably because there’s more British musicians who are well known than Canadian ones – especially the sort of artists that I would listen to anyway. I’m not really into Justin Beiber. Haha
Haha! Yeah, he’s not really our bag either.
But, like you said, in terms of the dissonance between them there isn’t much. They’re pretty similar places and cultures. Although, I think that weird middle ground between feeling British, but not quite, and feeling Canadian, but not quite, and exploring the music within that discovery is more inspiring than trying to find a home in one or the other. Without sounding too pretentious.
Like, I’m not saying I’m the only dual-nationality person, but I suppose the loneliness within that narrative allowed for more exploration.
We get that! But within that upbringing were there any particular bands or artists you could name-drop as inspirations?
I’ve said Kate Nash before, I like a lot of her music. But I’d also say Alanis Morissette as well as Avril Lavigne as a massive Canadian queen. I definitely think Alanis Morissette is super underrated, to go from a teen dance one-hit-wonder to become a gigantic folk star is insane.
So, to pull on with that Alanis Morissette string a little. We’ve recently reviewed ‘God’s Little Punching Bag‘, absolutely loved it by the way. But would it be fair to say that we heard a more Alanis, softer, vibe from you on that tune? As opposed to the more angsty post-punk driven sound on tracks like ‘Used To Be‘ and ‘Better Job‘
I think that’s probably fair, obviously there are still parts of it that are angry and I think it’s still an energetic song. I’ve written so many songs that are angsty and it kind of came to point where I was like “okay, I’m bored of being angry”.
Absolutely, but was that move away from the angsty writing difficult for you in the current climate? With everything that’s happening in the world, we’d say everyone’s pretty angry right now.
With the way the world has been over the last five years, I think people are inclined to feel pretty angry. Everything is so polarised at the moment too, like, I have to just take myself off Twitter because it winds me up so much! But I think, with my releases over the last couple of years, writing has definitely been a cathartic experience.
Although, music and writing songs has always been a way of releasing anger for me. From things like falling out with friends when I was growing up, to the more political stuff like ‘Better Job’ now.
Okay, so do you think the softer approach is a direction you’ll continue on in the future, rather than the harder post-punk stuff?
Yeah, I think so. Although, that’s not to say I’m done with the punky stuff, because the anger is still there. But I suppose it’s more about not taking myself too seriously. And not saying to people “what I’m talking about is the most important thing”. Just having more of a more of a laugh with it, you know.
I think you need both, I get that bands don’t want to move away from their angry stuff because some fans might think they’re selling out. We all know what the world is like, but we also need a break from it from time to time.
To carry on that point of writing and musical direction, we’ve commented in reviews before that your songs are always razor-sharp lyrically. Is that something you work super-hard on or do you find that it just pours out of you at the time?
It’s a bit of both. I always used to think when I was writing a song, there’s that pressure that you should spend hours over it, like a novel to get it perfect. But then I also think if some portion of that doesn’t come out of you organically then you can move passed the point of feeling what you’re writing about.
So, I’ll tend to write a song over an hour or so then just tweak it a bit over music. I’m not sure if that’s the right or wrong way to do it.
To move on to your live shows then, because live music is back! You’ve played Manchester, London and Birmingham recently. But now there’s a homecoming gig at Ziferblat in Coventry on the horizon, are there any more shows coming up?
Yeah! Those show were great Birmingham was solo, but Ziferblat will be an acoustic show which will be different and a challenge, but so much fun to do.
We’ve got lots of really exciting support shows coming up in November, which obviously I can’t announce because they’re not my shows. Although, we have a couple of months off, which is weird.
In June all the gigs came about immediately. I was like, “oh my god, I’m going to crash and burn as soon as this is over”. And we did three shows in three days in July. But I’m happy with the downtime now, I’m going to use it write.
So, you’ve said you’re going to use that, up-coming, two month break in the schedule to get some writing done. Does that mean we can expect some EP or album news in the not too distant future?
I think so… EP probably. The next EP I release I want to be more of a whole project. With my first one EP, I didn’t really know what I was doing with the first one.
But, you know how albums used to be like tying songs together and having a theme. But albums are so long now, I love them, although I get worried about keeping people’s attention through a whole album.
Singles are so popular now, which is great, but they can just be like a five-minute thought. So, I suppose, when I sit down to write a new album, I want to put more thought into what I’m saying and the relationship the songs have together.
Well, we already can’t wait to hear the new EP. Best of luck with all the up-coming shows, we’re sure you’ll smash it out of the park.