Brighton’s Yonaka are without a doubt one of the UK’s most unique bands. During their ferocious live shows, the four-piece blend fiery elements metal and head-banging-rock with slick hip-hop beats and grime’s DIY ethos, to create a volcanic mix that few can replicate.
As they release their new single ‘Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya’, we caught up with bassist Alex and singer Theresa to talk about their identity, those live shows and beyond.
Your music incorporates rock, metal, pop and hip-hop. How’d that mix come about?
Alex: “It’s weird that we don’t necessarily fit into one particular genre, but I like that. I think now it’s less ‘cliquey’ and there’s less snobbery about genres. It seems like the general public; especially young people are a lot more open minded to a wider genre of music now. And I think we create the way we consume. In the van one minute we’ll be listening to hip-hop, the next minute we’ll be listening to grime then we’ll be listening to something really heavy; so, naturally, I think our music is going to come out that way.”
Live shows are pretty intense. Are you finding them a bit dangerous yet?
Alex: “George attempted to go crowd surfing in Guilford. He tried to get on someone’s shoulders and then they totally dropped him, so yeah – a bit! Theresa’s loving the crowd surfing as well. Not me, I’ve not done it before, when the time is right I’ll do it.”
Tell us the story behind your new single, ‘Wouldn’t Want To Be Ya’…
Theresa: “It’s about my Dad, he left when we were really young. He’s everything that I would never want to be and it kind of relates to everyone. Everyone has got someone that they despise because they’ve been left or betrayed or something just like that. I think it’s good way of releasing it because the lines ‘Wouldn’t Want To Be Ya’ is something anyone can relate to so, sometimes, people can interpret it in their own way; and use it for themselves. Sometimes it’s been nerve racking, releasing them or writing them. When you read them out instead of singing them that’s when it gets embarrassing.”
Have you been surprised by the response you guys have had pretty quickly?
Theresa: “Massively. We were all in this band we were all doing other stuff and it was all like shitty bits and we weren’t where we wanted to be yet. When we got this band and started playing music it just clicked and it gives you this crazy feeling and you just know it’s right. Some people say ‘You’re so lucky’, but ‘No, we’re just working hard’.”
What is the final goal for you guys?
Theresa: “We’re aiming seriously big, the biggest. We want to make a proper living from music and it’s like the only thing any of us can do. It’s the only way.”
Catch Yonaka live this summer:
London Citadel Festival (July 16)
Steventon, Truck Festival (22)
Standon Calling (29)
Reading Festival (August 25)
Leeds Festival (26)