An Interview with YOLA

We love to hear from the artists we feature about what inspired their music and what it was like making their records. We asked YOLA a few questions, and now you can learn a bit more about her new album Stand For Myself!

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Photo by Joseph Ross
What inspired you to make this record?

While in isolation, like most I had a lot of time to reflect on my life and the world around me. I wanted an album that was inspiring but also called out the problems in the world, that did not blindly call for us all to come together but laid a direct challenge to our own cognitive biases that create tokenism and bigotry. We need to challenge our thinking if we want to have meaningful connections in this world and to be truly alive. I have minimised myself at times to fit around the paradigm of another making, but those days are over and this album is a celebration of that change in thinking. 

What is your songwriting process normally, and how, if at all, has it changed due to the pandemic?

The pandemic had a huge impact on how I wrote this record. For the first time I had enough time to access the part of my brain that stores all of the information, specifically the part that stored every environment that you’ve ever been in or seen, the colliculi, where all the elegant connections are made. I was inspired by scientists and their pursuit of the resolution of complex problems, accessing this part of the brain through competing meditative and often mundane tasks, which is less about forcing inspiration but waiting for the inspiration to come.  

How is this record different from your other releases?

This record is a sonic shift from Walk Through Fire. On that album I was exploring my genre fluidity between pop, country and soul music. With Stand For Myself I wanted it to reflect my more eclectic inspirations, and drew from a lot of the music I listened to on the radio growing up from 70s disco to 90s neo soul to R&B and Britpop! 

What was the recording process like on this record?

It was a lot of fun! Dan is an amazing producer and he really captured how I wanted this record to sound. This time around I also got to have some friends sing along with me on the record which was exciting! The wonderful Brandi Carlile and McCrary Sisters lent their vocals to this album as well as Joy Oladokun, Hannah V, Ruby Amanfu, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Natalie Hemby for their songwriting collaborations as well. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to start making music?

Don’t be afraid to express yourself fully and ignore the outside noise. Trust your instincts, listen to your voice, and don’t be afraid to stand for yourself!

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