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English rock band YONAKA talk about mental health and living in the moment

Photo Credit: Rory Barnes

Wonderfully energetic and full-blooded, Yonaka are a feisty rock band from Brighton who generate a soundscape full of high-octane goodness. Consisting of vocalist Theresa Jarvis, guitarist George Edwards, bassist Alex Crosby and drummer Robert Mason, Yonaka came together in 2015 as soon as the gang left university.

“I booked us a show within the first two months. We quickly got five songs together for it and it just felt so right and so real, so we never stopped,” said Theresa. All of them had dabbled in music before, but Yonaka were the first band that clicked for every individual.

Their debut Don’t Wait ‘til Tomorrow is a brazen and unapologetic album that makes a powerful statement. It’s an honest portrait of anxiety, defiance and empowerment – as well as a big F you to the world. From their lyrical bluntness to their rebellious aesthetic, Yonaka have found a way to transform their frustration into loud noises. While they’re kicking around for new ideas for materials soon to be released, we chatted with Theresa, frontwoman of YONAKA, about their mental health advocacy and their own takes on success and failure in their creative career.

Yonaka 1
Photo Credit: Rory Barnes

An interview with YONAKA

Can you walk us through the theme(s) of your debut album Don’t Wait ‘til Tomorrow?

The album revolves around mental health. I struggle with anxiety and depression and know so many other people who have the same struggle. I wanted to talk about this thing that consumes me so much and let anyone who is battling hard in life know that they aren’t alone. If you don’t feel okay, reach out to someone and talk to someone.

Which song on the record resonates with you the most?

It’s a toss between ‘Punchbag’ and ‘Don’t Wait ‘til Tomorrow’. ‘Punchbag’ is about never letting people use you and beat you down. Fuck those who are trying to make you think that you’re not good enough. This song just puts a bit of fire in my belly. “Don’t wait ‘til Tomorrow” has a beautiful message – know that help is always there, you can speak to someone when you’re not feeling okay and you’re not alone.

How have the recent live shows been since you released your debut album?

They’ve been great. It’s amazing to see our fanbase grow and everyone singing along at our shows, and how people are sending us messages saying that the album has helped them. We’re very grateful for it.

When you’re not making music, how do you unwind in your free time? 

I love to cook and be outside. Currently, we are writing pretty much every day. We have got so much new material, we’re really excited to share it.

Yonaka 2
Photo Credit: Rory Barnes

What’s the most inspiring and constructive advice that you’ve been given in recent years?

I think to just really live in the moment, appreciate what you have got and where you are at in your life right now as it could all be gone tomorrow. It’s hard sometimes because it’s so easy to beat yourself up or get upset and negative because you’re not where you want to be yet. But when you get in a flow of gratitude, you start to see things properly. Also, don’t compare yourself! It’s crippling and does absolutely no good.

How would you define success and failure in your creative career?

I would say success in the sense that we have people at our shows singing and dancing to our songs. It’s our full-time job. We get to travel the world and do what we love. I would use failure in the sense that we are still so far from where I want us to be.

Can you share with us a song/an album that reflects your current state of mind? How so?

Right now, it is ‘Sugar’ by Brockhampton. I have this song on at least five times a day. I’m obsessed with it. I’m obsessed with this band anyway, but this song stuck to me.

Underground Soundwave presents an ongoing series of reports on emerging and established bands with close-up Q&As, new release reviews and gig reports with a special emphasis on supporting diversity in music, women in music, independent labels and venues and the local music scene.

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