I interviewed YOKKO after their show at Open Air Gampel back in August, you can read the review for their show here.
First of all thank you to Andrea Gujer from Musik Vertrieb for making this interview possible. And of course thanks to Adrian Erni and Daniel Fanslau from YOKKO for their availability and friendliness, it’s been a fun interview 🙂
The Liberation: You call your sound “Atlantic Wave”, what do you mean by it?
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): Well, you know, somehow we had to describe our music because people wanted to know about it. What’s a good picture to describe this music? It’s “Atlantic Wave”, the Atlantic is big, deep, it’s a big mystery as well and can be very cold. Waves are something really strong and powerful that’s how we see our music it comes and goes and you can take a ride on that if you want to.
The Liberation: That’s a nice view. How does your producing process work? Do you come up with the lyrics or melodies first?
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): Normally the music comes first then we add vocal melodies that we change. At one point Adrian (Erni, the singer) starts to sing in his own language. (they laugh)
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): Yeah, I sing in my own language, it’s close to English but it’s not English. When the music is playing it makes emotions rise inside me and I just sing something over it but which is not the perfect lyrics we chose for the song, it is just based on emotions and not on words.
The Liberation: I read that after you did your first EP you signed to an American label and then the label went down. How did you react to the fact of not having a label?
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): First of course we were a bit disappointed and we thought “Well what’s next?”. At that time we thought it was a step backwards but looking back now it was a big lesson for us to think about what we really want to do and we could rethink everything, what we wanted to do with music. So we just started over with energy. Now or never, nothing to lose. (laughs) You know somehow it felt like when you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, at the beginning of course you’re sad and you think “Oh I’m never gonna be happy again” but then after a while you think “OK, I gained a new freedom”. We took that freedom and channelled it into music.
The Liberation: So this experience was actually good for you musically speaking?
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): I think there’s always something good in life when you’re down because you see things from a different perspective. Whereas if you’re always on the top you miss a lot of things which are in between up and down, on earth and up in the sky, so it makes you feel real life.
The Liberation: The presenter when he introduced you on stage said you’re like the new Kings Of Leon…
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): (we laugh) Did he?! I’m gonna talk to him.
The Liberation: I was wondering if you have any inspirational bands
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): Of course we see ourselves in a tradition of some artists. We have very British and American influences. Traditionally Kings Of Leon and Coldplay, which are also frequently mentioned aside our band, are representative of this kind of music. It was never a goal that we’d be the new Kings Of Leon because, of course, we listen to them but if you listen to our music carefully you realize it’s not them. I think he wanted to say something good about us, so I’ll take it as a compliment (laughs). There’s nothing bad about it but comparisons are always a bit difficult but we’re on the same tradition as them as many other bands are. We have shorter hair than them (laughs).
The Liberation: Are you already thinking about your next album?
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): Of course, yeah, we do that every day. We took some time off at the end of November this year, we’re going to record some new songs and maybe the album is coming next year after the Summer. But you never know about it, we’ll see.
The Liberation: Where are you going to record it?
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): (they laugh) We don’t know yet. Maybe in Los Angeles, maybe in Berlin.
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): Maybe out in the woods like last time. We recorded the last album in an abandoned place in a house we rented; we spent two or three weeks there because we needed silence. Maybe this time we’ll take a different approach but we don’t know which one yet.
The Liberation: Making a living out of music in Switzerland. How do you see it? Do you think it’s possible?
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): That’s a good question.
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): Very good question.
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): I think it’s possible but it takes a lot of time and much more than one record. The family has to grow around you, all the friends and people around you have to accompany in this journey. And if they don’t leave, maybe in two, three, five or I don’t know how many years there will probably be an option to live on music but right now we live FOR the music.
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): It’s also a challenge to not only live on music, I mean gain money for it, but also be proud of what you do and stay yourself and not lose your way and get too much commercial. That’s the difficult thing in Switzerland. If you really want to stick to what you do and then make money that’s difficult. When you go to other countries even for a niche there are enough people that support you but in Switzerland it’s difficult to make music in a niche. So you have to somehow, as Adrian said, have large families but also keep your identity.
The Liberation: How did you feel playing on the big stage of Gampel Open Air just before?
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): Should I be honest?
The Liberation: Yes, of course!
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): It was a little bit strange because Gampel is a rock/metal festival and a lot of noisy bands are playing here. And we do pop music and people come to Gampel to listen that other kind of music. It wasn’t bad but it was difficult to connect with the people.
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): We tried hard, we all dressed in black today (we all laugh). I think a lot of them believed us.
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): It wasn’t the best show but it’ll be better when we come back. I think we play a show at Bettmeralp and it will be better then. But it was a really nice warm-up show (laughs).
The Liberation: Because I saw you at Gurtenfestival in July.
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): How was it for you? Was this show better than Gurten?
The Liberation: I think the crowd was much better at Gurten, they were much more involved.
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): It’s also because we’re very connected to Bern.
The Liberation: Yeah I also noticed that you were overjoyed.
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): Yeah, true. You know in all these big and small festivals, but especially in the big ones you learn a lot about how you work as a band and as a person, and your needs. It’s not the children playground anymore it’s like the big water fun park (we laugh), it’s real and you’re standing up there and have to ride for an hour and hold on.
- YOKKO (Adrian Erni – Singer): There are a lot of great musicians out here at this festival, but it’s not the same type of music. But I’m looking forward to see Marilyn Manson I’ve never seen him live, tonight it’s gonna be the first time for all of us in the band.
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): I’m already scared by his looks; I don’t want to share the toilet with him. (we all laugh)
The Liberation: You haven’t met him yet?
- YOKKO (Daniel Fanslau – Keys): No we haven’t seen him yet. Maybe he comes with the helicopter straight to the stage like a dark legend. (laughs loud)