With a second album in the very early stages of development, and playing live remaining a distant prospect (“livestreams I don’t really find that fun,” she confesses), Nilüfer Yanya has been exploring other outlets for her creative talents.
Amongst them – art lessons with her dad, delivering art supplies with the Artists In Transit project she started with her sister a few years ago, and a new EP. Her latest three-track effort, out in December, is led by first single ‘Crash’, which came together during the singer’s brief stay in New York last year working alongside Brooklyn-based musician Nick Hakim. The first taste of what’s in store, it lays out the groundwork of what promises to be a captivating new chapter.
Tell us a bit more about ‘Crash’ – what it’s about?
I feel like I’ve been writing it for a while. I had the idea, but it really came together when I went to New York last September. I recorded it in a couple of days. It was really cool to work with Nick; I’ve been a big fan of his for the past few years.
How long were you in New York for?
I was there for about a week playing a show for Fashion Week.
Was it just ‘Crash’ you wrote then?
We wrote another song, had two songs on the go. They were finished just before lockdown. Nick came over to London in March, and we had a couple of days then.
Are you writing a lot with other people?
At the moment, yeah, I’m working with a couple of people – it’s quite nice.
Did you manage to write much during lockdown?
Not much, no. I kind of finished things, but in terms of like being creative and coming up with ideas for music, I didn’t get very far.
Another new track of yours is ‘Day 7’ – can you tell us a bit about that one?
Yeah, that will be part of an EP I’m putting out in December – just three tracks, ‘Crash’, ‘Day 7’ and ‘Toned Down Luck?’.
Is the EP going to be a preview of what’s to expect on the next album?
I don’t know, actually. I need to get my head into album mode. They’re [the songs on the EP] all quite different, but I think they sit together quite well.
“I need to get my head into album mode”Nilüfer Yanya
Do you think your next album will have a theme, like the WWAY HEALTH™ concept with your first?
I have no idea. I probably will come up with some weird type of thing, because I enjoyed doing that, but there’s nothing really at the moment – just have a few songs.
Did ‘Day 7’ come to life before ‘Crash’?
That was definitely written before – probably about June last year, I’ve worked on it for a while now. I got around to finishing it this year just before lockdown.
Do you have any livestreams or socially-distanced events coming up?
Umm, I hope not. Nah, I’m joking – livestreams I don’t really find that fun, but I did perform ‘Day 7′ on a couple. And in terms of shows, I’d like to do a show obviously, but I don’t think anything is going to happen ’til next year. Maybe we’ll hopefully look at touring next autumn – crazy it’s a whole year away.
Is there a certain festival or venue that you’re looking forward to playing when things get back to normal?
We were meant to be doing Coachella this year, but then it got back pushed back to October and then cancelled. We’re lucky we’ve been booked again for next year.
Have you played Coachella before?
No, I’ve never played Coachella before, so we’ll see what happens. I was looking forward to that, but I mean there were so many things that got cancelled – it’s actually crazy.
Tell us about your Artists In Transit project?
It’s a community organisation run by my sister and our friends. I started it with my sister three or four years ago, but I’m not really very active as a member at the moment in terms of organising things. My friend has kind of taken on all the organising, which is pretty great – I’ve stepped back a bit. It’s basically art workshops for refugees and people who would enjoy it or get something out of it. Started it in Athens, working with refugees, and now we do different workshops in London as well. During lockdown, we were dropping off art packs to children in London. We’d cycle round and give them some art homework and basically annoy their parents. I think it’s really important, particularly as we don’t really know how long it’s going to go on for.
Was art a big thing in your household when you were younger?
Yeah, massive. Both my parents were artists, so I didn’t really ever not think about art. It was just always there. But I appreciate that that’s not like that for everyone.
Does that feed into the artwork for your releases?
I do mostly design all the artwork. I really enjoy making things. I’ve actually enrolled in one of my dad’s courses – I’m doing etching and printmaking at the moment. It’s just this one other person and me in the class.
Is he a good teacher?
Yeah, he’s a really good artist and technician when it comes to how to do it.
And your sister’s arty as well?
Yeah, my sister Molly directs all my videos, and has also done pretty much all my photos up to now.
It’s nice you have such a close family unit.
Yeah, it is.
Taken from the November issue of Dork. Nilüfer Yanya’s EP ‘Feeling Lucky?’ is out 11th December.