In this edition of A Chat With we talk to local instrumental sensation Yarns.
1. How would you describe your sound?
For now, Yarns is a solo act that intertwines both instrumental pieces and prose serving as a connection between each musical movement, a little bit like a thread (… or a string of yarn). The main concept of Yarns is to have only one person performing each song, and to mix that with some stories.
2. Who are your influences?
On a musical level, Yarns is influenced by movie soundtracks (composers like Jonny Greenwood, Max Richter or Gustavo Santaolalla), but also by lots of other artists of different genres (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, Elliott Smith, Nine Inch Nails, The Chariot, Daughters, Meshuggah, Gojira, Sage Francis, Arvo Part, etc.).
3. What’s on the horizon for your music in 2019/2020?
The release of Winter – Spring –, the next part of Yarns’ first album, Summer – Fall –, with a release show. I am also planning on putting together a theatrical set with the actor Megan Carty, who is the voice behind the vocal tracks, as well the co-writer of some proses on both albums.
4. What is your creative process?
Almost every time, I will start with picking a theme, and then I will try to create a piece of music where every aspect evokes that precise concept. Also, I rarely start creating out of a computer. Rather, I spend hours using my hands on an instrument/pedals until I finally find the sound/riff/progression that expresses that idea in the most accurate way. Once I have a sketch of a song, I switch to the computer – or I go to a studio – where I edit, produce and amplify the demo I created. When this is done, I go back to my pedalboard and my instruments, and I try to find a way to perform the song live and to incorporate it to my set. Usually, the live version of a Yarns’ song is a mix of the studio track, and the demo version. On parallel with all that, I work on a prose that I edit with Megan.
It usually is a long process that involves a lot of introspection and, often, self-loathing.
5. Where do you draw inspiration from?
The songs of Yarns were influenced by my relocation to Canada, almost four years ago. Each city, town or suburb I stopped in served as a background for creating each Yarns song and prose.
6. How do you deal with nerves before a show?
The few hours before a show are, usually, quite nerve-wracking for me. I always get really nervous until I get on stage and start performing. That being said, I never saw this as a handicap, as the stress helps me focus more, as well as it gives me some drive on stage.
Before every show, I have a precise ritual. I blast a hip-hop playlist in my car on the way to the show, and I sing along as loud as I can. After I load my gear into the venue, I eat one orange and one granola bar, and I drink two bottles of water. I warm up on my guitar wherever I can (usually, a toilet or a broom closet), and then I try not to think too much about the show, or whatever is going to happen on stage (I most often fail at that part).
7. Fave venue in Ottawa?
Hands down, it is the Ask a Punk house. It is one of the most welcoming and open-minded spots I’ve ever played at, and I just love the DIY / Rock’n’Roll vibe of that place. No matter what genre you play, the people there will be encouraging and open ears. There’s room for everyone on that stage, with nobody to judge you. Therefore, it’s also an amazing live space to experiment some new songs and see what sticks or not.
8.Craziest thing you’ve seen at a show?
With Yarns, the craziest thing that happened to me was to have, a few times, some people telling me that I made them cry during my set. I started this project with a simple purpose of introspection and self-searching, and I never intended to please anyone with it. The fact that it resonates with some people is the greatest reward I can get.
9. If you could tour/play a show with any line up who would it be?
Well, I’d say it would be a super cool noisy concert night where I would open for Daughters, followed by The Chariot (if they’d still exist), and with Nine Inch Nails as a headliner. One can dream.
Going on a tour with Arcade Fire would be pretty rad, too.
10. Advice for new musicians/band
Be humble. Be on time. Say please and thank you.
Do not try to please anyone but yourself with your music.
Be curious all the time, listen to some stuff out of your comfort zone, and find how a new musical genre can influence you.
11. Any shout outs you want to make?
A shout out to Cody, James, Mattie and Zack from the Punk house. A shout out to Alex, from Avant-Garde, for giving me my first gig with Yarns a year ago, when all the other venues said “No” to me.
A shout out to you, Kyle, for this interview.
Thanks a lot for that.
12. Social media links/music links