Yassassin are a whirlwind of catchy hooks, do-it-yourself gumption and take-no-prisoners swagger.
Tell us about your band - what do you all do, and where did you meet?
I sing lead vocals. We all met as we were hanging out in the same music scene in East London and eventually became friends. We’d known each other for a couple of years before Yassassin was born out of the Hackney ashes.
Yassassin is the shit. I love creating music and magic with some of my best friends and every day we're getting a step closer to the moon. I think the Turkish meaning of the word Yassassin (hopefully) says a lot about us; it means "live long". I play guitar and sing in the band. The rest of my time I spend studying world music at SOAS and freelancing in media/broadcasting.
We all make noises with different things. My choice of sound is guitar. We all met at different times, but the universe brought us together eventually, phew.
I play drums. I met the girls playing various gigs around East London.
Yassassin has been our life for the past year. It’s not just a band, but it’s a mind set for us all and where we find comfort, friendship and creativity. Together we are strong! I play bass and we all sing. I’m working as a print production designer for music publishing in my “spare” time.
Did you all know instantly you wanted to be in a band together, and play this kind of music? How did you hit upon your sound?
We knew it from birth... soon as we fell out of Mumma. We wanted to have fun with whatever type of music we were going to create. I don't think we want to stick to one 'type' of music or a 'sound' - we'd like to explore any sound that intrigues us.
I was already in another band with Moa at the time, but we had been toying with the idea of starting a new project for a while and one day Moa just said, ‘Let’s do it’. Joanna and Raissa jumped straight on the idea, and through a lucky coincidence, they also found Ruth at the club night ‘DIY Thursdays’ where she was drumming away with her other band, and they were like, ‘She’s ace, she needs to drum for us’. And lucky for us, she agreed.
We just knew from the start that we wanted to have fun in this band, and not limit ourselves to one sound, it’s nice to surprise people.
We have all played in other bands and projects before creating Yassassin, and we all come from very different musical backgrounds and have different taste in things. When we started playing together, our point was not to try to sound like some kind of music, or to create a specific sound. We gave ourselves the freedom to just experiment openly and mix all our different flavours together into a big yassy mess.
When I first heard a rough demo of 'Social Politics', I knew I wanted to get involved. It was different to the other bands I played in, so it challenged me to play drums in a different style.
I was playing drums for another band, but it wasn’t really my thing. I was looking for something else, and I kept bumping into Moa at parties then. We got into really drunk conversations and from what I remember we just got real galvanised about starting a new project. I knew Anna and her were looking for a different buzz too.
Are you creative in non-musical ways, too?
Ooohhh yeah baby.
I thrive on making new things - all tasks where I get to create something ignites this spark in me. It could be anything from planning and organising a themed house party to coming up with a sound design for a TV show intro. I love it all. I used to draw and paint when I was younger, but now I'm more into video editing and am lucky enough to work in television where I have daily access to all the editing tools I need. To me video editing is somehow musical too though, it follows a kind of rhythm.
Yeeees of course. We make lots of things together; artwork, videos, photoshoots, styling, editing, merchandise etc.
I dabble in photography and collage art from time to time.
Creativity is a really big chunk of my personality. I've been writing and creating since I was little - I’m so intrigued by how things work and how people come out with certain things. I'd be left alone for ages and would just try and design something out of leaves or stones (or dress up my cat). I really don’t need anything else than a pad and a pen. I’m lucky enough to have developed that creativity into my day job. Working as a print designer is great. I would spend hours touching different kinds of papers and get high from that, ha.
What do you most enjoy writing/singing about? Are there any topics you find yourself returning to?
The philosophy and dogmas of life and love.
The vile and provocative, raw honesty and dark mysteries.
I don't sing in Yassassin, and I generally struggle to write lyrics. I find it really challenging as I'm super critical of everything I write. Which is probably why I stick to drums.
Anything I physically feel. An average person has about 50,000 thoughts a day. Music is something that transforms a few of those thoughts into a tangible thing.
I always seem to say 'see' as a first word when working out vocal melody. Maybe there is a hidden meaning in that. Should've gone to Specsavers.
How did you find putting together your debut EP, ‘Vitamin Y’? What’s your favourite thing about it?
I really enjoyed the recording process and going into the studio with Dave Allen. It was a lot of fun being together in the room as we started putting the tracks down, and we got super excited when we heard everything back for the first time.
I love how we have been super involved during the whole process from the beginning to final product, it truly feels like it’s our own baby. The process has been quite long looking back, but we have all learnt great lessons from it.
M: It’s been really amazing to make 'Vitamin Y', and I find everything about it so exciting.
I like the scratch n sniff feature. No, seriously, writing and making the EP has been the most fun I've ever had, but it's been a long old winding road. My favourite thing is it finally being out.
It wasn’t a standard process of writing, we were still trying to find our sound really. It was like trying to find each other while we were writing the EP and it turned out being a journey more than a plug and play session. Dave was really helpful with that. He got us straight away, and he knew we needed our time to take the EP into shape. He didn’t rush it. I loved every single second of it.
How would you like your music to make listeners feel?
Like there is fire running in their veins. But I also think that as long as they feel something, we’ve done a good job. I’d be more disappointed if someone listened to it and felt indifferent rather than if they felt annoyed for example. At least they felt something.
If our music could make people feel inspired and motivated to follow their dreams and just do it, that would be quite something. But I am amazed by just the thought of making music that has a chance to be meaningful for people, in whatever way it can be.
Like anything they want - but mainly like crowd surfing.
Tingly all over.
If by speaking out loud we can change things and get other people inspired, that's the best feeling. You delivered it. A successful delivery is the best feeling.
How did you come to hook up with PRS Foundation for the release? Is it a good project to be part of?
We sent in our application on the very last day before the deadline and made the application video really quickly, and I guess they liked it. It’s a fantastic project that we are so grateful to be part of, and it has definitely opened new doors for us.
That sounds rather risque. It was a last minute submission, as Anna said, and we didn't expect to be picked, so it was a really amazing surprise. They've been super supportive, and of course, the cash is always welcome.
It's so great to have their support. It feels like recognition for what we're doing and the hard work that's gone into the EP.
Our managers found out about it! We quickly gathered everyone in a day, made the video for the application and they liked us enough to grant us the award!
Taken from the October issue of Dork, out now. Yassassin's debut EP ‘Vitamin Y’ is out now.