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February 2021

Rock stars aren't always born, but Yonaka have definitely arrived

As they prepare to release their debut album, the Brighton bunch are hitting their stride.
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Published: 10:00 am, May 28, 2019Words: Steven Loftin.
Rock stars aren't always born, but Yonaka have definitely arrived

It’s been a hot minute since Brighton’s finest Yonaka first feverishly rioted and stomped their way into everyone’s lives. Since then, after the release of a couple of EPs and a handful of singles, the time has finally come for their eagerly-anticipated debut album, ‘Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow’, and no one’s more eager than Yonaka’s Theresa Jarvis.

“Over the years we’ve just been growing and growing - it didn’t just happen at once,” the singer admits. “We weren’t like, ‘Oh this is what we want to say’ or ‘This is what we want to sound like’. You have to go through the motions and see what you do like and what you don’t like, what you like really are passionate about and what feels good. It’s been a nice journey creatively.”

The basis for everything Yonaka have been up to resides deep in their want to just be ‘rock stars’. Not the overly-glorified concept that is as ‘erm’ as it is ‘wow’, no - what Theresa and co. want is that free feeling. The one that consumes you and turns into your way of life. And that is what the four-piece, completed by George Edwards (guitar), Alex Crosby (bass/keys) and Robert Mason (drums) have brewed up deep in the realms of their home studio.

What they all realised is that people don’t wake up rock stars; it takes a whole lot of time and a whole heap of energy to get to that point. But stepping out on stage, however - that’s where natural abilities show themselves. It’s a feeling that immediately swept Theresa away, and brought her to a realm of new possibility.

“You tap into this kind of ‘zone’,” she muses on the fervent environment in which they naturally thrive. “We all do, me and the boys, we all just click into this different thing because if you think about it, it’s quite a weird thing being on stage anyway, like performing and being ‘DO YOU LIKE THIS?!’”

Is that a ‘zone’ that she taps into when concocting Yonaka’s howling, fiery jams?

“Not when I’m writing. I’m completely myself when I’m writing, but when I’m on stage performing, I click into this possessed thing,” she says with a chuckle. “That’s how I can give the best performance I can because I’m quite a sweet person. I laugh fucking too much, and I’m really loud, but on stage, I change into this dark, possessed place, but I need that to give the performance of what I’m singing about, and it has to be powerful. You can’t go in half-arsing.”

"Sometimes I’m like, what the fuck am I doing?"
Theresa Jarvis

Getting to this point for the Yonaka gang wasn’t as representative of their explosive tunes as you might think. In fact, it’s been a long ol’ process. “I feel like the journey’s been quite slow,” Theresa shrugs. “Because obviously we’re doing it every day and we only get to do shows and get to share things with everyone, like half a year or bloody whatever. No one gets to see as much as you’re doing when you’re working on it, apart from when you’re showing the final piece. It feels long and slow, sometimes I’m excited, and sometimes I’m like, what the fuck am I doing? But I think that’s all part of the process of like growing with it and building it.

“Sometimes I’m like, ‘fuck it we’ve made a song, let’s just do it!’” Theresa suddenly sparks up. “Let’s get it out, but that’s not how it works. Now you’ve written the song; you’ve got to record the song, then produce it, then you’ve got to get it out… It’s a long process, but it’s one that I love because there are so many elements. You’ve got to create the art, visual for it and stuff so… Don’t get me wrong, I love it, and it’s fun, but you get really excited, and you’re like, no no, it’s gotta go now! But it’s not going to.”

As are the perils of creating a buzz in such throwaway times, Yonaka have always been conscious of keeping themselves in the eye of the music-conscious. Pushing themselves to become a name synonymous with riotous tunes that push and pull between genres, as well as ‘that’ live show. Which is why ‘Don’t Wait 'Til Tomorrow’ is such an important step for them, it’s their moment to come alive and complete that first chapter, finally.

A completely home-brewed effort, the album is the whole essence of Yonaka; unhinged, conscious, and most of all, free. It also does that rather unique thing of translating their rabid live shows and caging the feeling. Most of all though, it’s that rock star moment, which is rather handy given they’ve even penned a song relating to the dream. “It’s something every musician wants!” Theresa exclaims.

Rock stars aren't always born, but Yonaka have definitely arrived

But it’s not all about celebrating the life they want. It’s also taking notice of the world around them. Of the album’s title-track, Theresa says. “’Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow’ is a huge song for me. It’s just saying that I feel like we’re constantly hearing these messages, and these news stories about mental health and how mental it’s getting.

“I feel like people think they’re alone when they’re not. So many people are going through the same thing. Sometimes I’ll read something and be like, ‘Shit, they feel the same way that I do!’ and you feel a little bit better. It’s comforting to know that someone feels the same. The song’s just about reaching out and letting someone know you’re not okay and not leaving it until it’s too late and just, there’s help, you know?”

It’s a heavy topic, but that’s just the kind of band that Yonaka are. They want to always be at the forefront helping, be it through snarling tunes that help you find some escape in the throng of a sweaty club gig, or listening deep into Theresa’s lyrics on your own at home during a particularly hard time.

“I feel like so many people have drowned in anxiety and depression, and I have been as well, and so many of my friends and family, and people that I speak to every day, it’s just crazy. It’s actually just mental how many people it affects.”

And as for that big question about what’s the most rock star moment Theresa has lived? Well, she doesn’t actually quite know on the phone, but a text, later on, reveals: “Coming on stage with Fever333 during the Bring Me The Horizon tour.” So there we have it. Now that tomorrow is finally here, Yonaka are ready to be your new favourite rock stars.

Taken from the June edition of Dork, out now. Order a copy below. Yonaka’s debut album ‘Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow’ is out 31st May.

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