The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
Interview: If By Yes
A Poppy Avant Garde Band
By Ani Mikaelian
Organic sound derives a whole new meaning when New York’s own If By Yes is concerned. If by any chance the name hits a note of familiarity, the poem “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” by E.E. cummings will refresh your memory. The group was formed by Petra Haden and Yuka Honda through sheer dumb luck.
Haden and Honda weren’t always so fortunate with musical chemistry, and their past is made up of separate projects, which ultimately led them to where they are now. It was a day back in the ‘90s when their story began, with Haden and Honda both apartof separate bands. A friendship blossomed inevitably from the similar interest in music, one so unique that any adjective wouldn’t do it justice.
A few more years would pass the two by before the pair of energies would combine. Haden was situated in Los Angeles, working and touring with bands like The Decemberists, Green Day, and Weezer, while Honda had her feet planted in New York soil with her band Cibo Matto. The two now stress that it was those 3000 miles apart that eventually brought them so much closer.
It is now, after putting heart and mind on the line, that the combined work of Haden and Honda can breathe freely. With Haden’s illuminating vocals paired with Honda’s unpredictably jovial audio production, the pair is complete with guitarist Hirotaka “Shimmy” Shimizu and drummer Yuko Araki.
The group’s debut album, Salt on Sea Glass, is made up of twelve tracks that cover just about every emotion known to man. Haden’s inviting voice takes you on a journey sugarcoated with a contrast of seductive instrumentals. There is a vague element of pop blended into the sound, but the enticing flow of lyrics and melody diverts your attention. The genre is then scrambled into a category of its very own.
The album’s journey is made up of a variety of tracks. From the monumentally melancholy “You’re Something Else” and easy-to-relate-to depressing “Still Breathing” to the comforting love song “You Feel Right,” a broad horizon of feelings is explored. There is no need for further evidence to prove how hard the team of Haden and Honda has worked to come this far.
Quail Bell caught up with groundbreaking vocalist, Petra Haden, for her state of mind when it comes to music and working on the collaborative project known as If By yes.
How would you say your own personal sounds and musical interests have evolved from past projects to now with If By Yes?
I have really been enjoying performing with If By Yes. My past projects are the roots and If By Yes is a tree. I can’t wait to see what grows for me next.
Where did the majority of inspiration come from for Salt on Sea Glass?
How is the music-making process? What stands out to you about the particular process you’ve experienced with If By Yes?
Yuka would come up with a structure for the song and then I would come up with a vocal melody either sung with a few words or in gibberish.
What stands out to me was how easy and pleasant writing the songs were. I also had a lot of room to come up with a lot of harmonies, which is always nice.
How did you meet Hirotaka and Yuko and what made you decide to include them in the project?
I met them when I saw Cornelius play in Los Angeles about four years ago. We met again later when Yuka and I saw them play in New York. We talked about how fun it would be if they played music with us, so we all started working together a couple years ago.
How would you describe your music to a deaf person?
I would close my eyes and smile.
If collaborating were an option, whom would you see If By Yes working with in the future?
I don’t know! Hmm…maybe David Byrne again.
What do you want your music to be remembered for?
For making people feel good.
How would you say crowds have been responding to the live sets so far?
The crowds have been great so far.
Can you tell me about a memorable moment on stage?
I would say the most memorable moments were singing with David Byrne and moonwalking.
Music aside, what is done in your spare time?
I just started learning how to knit. It’s great cognitive therapy!
What’s in store for If By Yes for the rest of this year?
Not sure, but we will keep you posted!
Comments are closed.