Traversing the path of self-discovery is a herculean effort, something YlangYlang knows very well. Listening through the Hamilton-based solo artist’s catalogue of introspective art pop has a similar effect to reading through someone’s diary, each song a new entry, each release a new chapter. Her raw, emotive poetry guides us along a quest for truth, yet the destination, if there even is one, remains elusive.
It’s this sort of naive, open-minded sense of inquisitive wonder that makes YlangYlang’s music feel so genuine. Her ethereal ambient soundscapes and plaintive, sincere vocals do not project anything onto the listener, they are simply presented as they are, unadorned and unaffected. She merely extends a hand, offering us to join her on the boundless path towards transcendence. Like a modern day Orpheus, YlangYlang is a beacon of clarity amidst a chorus of sirens attempting to lead our souls astray.
How does your music take shape?
Music emerges out of me from intuition, curiosity, playful exploration and sensitivity. There is definitely a concept underlying the process (my mental agitation of the moment + current thoughts and readings melted into a vague idea) but I don’t pay attention to it much while I create. Once I have gathered enough of that raw sound matter, the work shifts to collage, textures and sculpture. Then only, when the skeleton of the track exists and I listen to it thinking about words and about my voice, I suddenly feel the vibe of the song and its load of emotions. At that point, feelings and a more precise concept merge together until the end of the process. Music is really just the action of stimulating myself, to try and shake the alienation and generate a true powerful force.
How do you engage with time (past and present) through your music?
We can explore what has been created in the past, art, music, products of culture and find what resonates with us, and bring it back in our present perspective. Being inspired (for me) is the basic of creation. I deconstruct my influences in order to understand how they work and why they touch me, then I bring them in the present by trying to create a new (fucking mindblowing, insane) sound with the things I learned from them, always being grateful. We can also engage as always keeping in mind how the present was shaped, trying to connect the dots from the shitty unfair and unsatisfying world we live in to the beginning of civilization. It’s interesting to make hypothesis about how things could have been different and how they could be better.
In your view, what does it mean to be subversive?
I think being subversive includes two different actions. One would be to try and look at the world for what it is with the less filter as possible, its structure and their impact on people, on everyone. The power dynamics, the inequality, the subtle (or not) manipulation, the way we soaked in some messed up values without knowing. The second part would be to think about ways to change our behaviour in an attempt to disrupt in the most imaginative, potent, playful way. I think subversive has a connotation saying you feel good about making trouble.
YlangYlang joins Kazuki Koga and Joni Void on the Montage/Montagne tour between Oct. 13-22nd in the following cities: