“ONCE THIS IS OVER, WE SHOULDN’T GO BACK TO NORMAL, WE SHOULD DO BETTER THAN THAT.” – ‘Yang’ discuss genre fluidity, the global pandemic & their yogurt form.
Interview by Caleb Allport
I decided to keep things interesting during lockdown and catch up with the Manchester ‘genre fluid’ 2 piece – ‘Yang’. Made up of the yin in the yang ‘Davey Moore’ and the yang in the yin ‘Oliver Duffy.’
The band’s sound is ‘‘full of dreamy soundscapes, pulsating kick drums, gargantuan distorted bass, crooning vocals and twinkling, spiralling synths.’’ All things considered, these boys have a very enticing set up, therefore I decided to catch up with both Yang’s Davey and Ollie, to see what they had to say for themselves.
Their lockdown experiences seemed to have been the mixed feelings of many. Davey told us about having to ‘‘drag himself through Uni work and job applications’’ while Ollie spoke about his increase in productivity in regards to song writing. As the duo expressed much of the nations burden of boredom, they both brought to light the poignant point that ‘‘Boredom is a small price to pay in order for lives to be saved.’’ Davey also expressed the importance of his loving girlfriend and the River Irwell.
The band formed from the Salford Uni class ’Rhythmic Awareness’ in which they first met. Oliver added that ‘‘We literally sat in a circle playing bongos.’’ Once a musical connection was made by lead singer Davey’s noticing of Oliver’s synths, they decided to indulge themselves into the world of electronic music, something neither Yang–ee had attempted to create before. With the shared love for the likes of Kelly Lee Owens, Aphex Twin, Burial, New Order and Hot Chip, they went from there.
‘Genre Fluid’ is how the band like to describe themselves. This having always interested me, I decided to pose the question of what the motivation behind this was. Davey stated ‘‘We didn’t want to go into it (Yang) with a genre or sound in mind particularly’’ Oliver added ‘‘We just wanted to leave the door open to completely reinvent ourselves over time. Even if that were to not be electronic based. We just wanted to be clear that we’ve got no attachment to a specific kind of music.’’
Amongst genre fluidity lies another unorthodox characteristic of the band. Being a two piece, I wanted to investigate and see what the pros and cons were to this dynamic.
‘‘The big pro (to being a two piece) is that you don’t have to try and win over as many people when you have an idea that you’re passionate about. A con that I can think of on paper is that if me and Davey were to ever have a tiff, you can’t just go and hang out with another band member, you have to face an issue head on. Which I guess, isn’t such a con because It means we don’t bottle things up.’’ Davey elaborated by saying ‘I think the main difference is that being in a duo allows decisions to be made far quicker. I prefer it because we’ve made a really strong creative bond, I don’t even have to look at Ollie and he’ll know what to do.’
“THERE’S NOTHING BETTER THAN CLUBBING TOGETHER A WEIRD CHARITY SHOP OUTFIT FOR A GIG”
Whenever I have witnessed a live Yang performance, I haven’t been able to avoid appreciation for their on-stage image. Back in the day when you could go and see bands play live at music venues, their flamboyant look was something you couldn’t help but notice. ‘‘The look is half the battle when it comes to music, a lot of bands don’t want to believe that, but it really is important. There’s nothing better than clubbing together a weird charity shop outfit for a gig, or randomly deciding to have a Morrissey moment on steds.’’ Davey expressed his desire for people to question him in his look – ‘‘I use fashion to paint the image of me being sexually ambiguous. After I watched (The Mighty) Boosh and Vince said that he was the ‘confuser’, I had a goal.’’
Yet another string to Yang’s bow when on stage is their backdrop visuals that you just can’t ignore. I wondered who and what was behind it – ‘‘We have a team of visual artists, they’re just our mates really. We came to realise that if we all worked together in order to improve our creative reputations, then we’d all prosper. Our friends Malcolm, Harry and Joe make all of our visuals specific to each gig and venue which creates something really unique.’’ In return to support each other’s prosperity, Yang have then gone onto score their visual creators’ films. Davey expressed the sheer value of their visuals towards their on-stage persona, ‘‘It’s important to me that our performances are a show, not just a gig.’’
After discussing live performance and the all-important questions i.e. Yang’s yogurt form (which lead to the conclusion of Davey making a good ‘Frube’ and Ollie settling as a ‘Muller Corner’), we went on to chat about time in the studio. Yang produce everything themselves as they believe ‘‘It’s important that you not only come up with your own ideas, but also figure out how to voice them yourselves too.’’ They did, however go on to talk about a lucky encounter that lead to Jesse F Keeler of ‘Death from Above’ and ‘MSTRKRFT’ mastering their debut EP ‘Patrice’. Turns out, after speaking at a ‘Death from Above’ show in Sheffield 6 years ago, Oliver and Jesse built up a casual relationship – ‘‘I usually see him for a catch up whenever DFA come to the UK’’ he told us. ‘‘He’s been very supportive when I’ve given him music to look at. When I sent him the Yang stuff, he was happy to get involved, which meant a lot.’’
On the subject of being in the studio and song writing, the lyricist of the band – Davey, explained the insight of how he is motivated to write lyrics that are often politically and socially driven. He said ‘‘My lyric content is a combination of my own anguishes and political satire. I grew up on a council estate, but now after about five midlife crises, a gulag political phase, Uni moving me away from my hometown and living on my own in Manchester, all of this affects me and my lyrics come from my feelings. ‘Cus I’m dyslexic that’s the only way I can write.’’
With the whole ‘biggest global pandemic in over a century’ thing going on, we all know this has led to much of the music industry in a state of crisis. With music venues being forced to close since 20th March 2020, this has led to the question of how many venues will have perished before we emerge from this global catastrophe and how many musicians will lose their livelihoods for good? We discussed the bands hopes and fears of The Coronavirus regarding the future of the music industry.
Oliver explained to us that ‘‘I don’t think things will be the same as they were for a long time and that might be a good thing eventually.’ He also added – ‘‘People will realise how undervalued individual artists are in the grand scheme of things, once they realise that without tours, artists can’t make money to live. You see the dependence on the live circuit immediately with the likes of ‘BC Camplight’ setting up his Patreon and live stream fundraisers. Generally speaking, most full-time musicians tend to hang from a financial thread, as music just isn’t as valued as an art form now as it once was.’’ Davey extended the discussion by saying ‘‘Apart from people like (Jeff) Bezos, we are all skint at risk and confused. So, stay strong you beauties.’’
A real significant segment of the pandemic deliberation came from Oliver, when stating ‘‘Once this is over, we shouldn’t go back to normal, we should do better than that.’’ Which really summed up the overall feeling of the bands empathic, raw and wholehearted frustrations in regards to the current climate.
Despite the current hurdles in Yang’s path, they remain determined to work towards a bright future for themselves. Before “Taking over the world, landing on Jupiter and making Chips free for all School children” they aim to become a ‘Manchester staple’ and in doing so, aims to “Set out and change what a Manchester band sounds like”. The band also excitingly revealed that they have “A lot of music ready to go”. Once the pandemic is over, the duo are looking forward to getting videos completed that have sadly had to have been pushed back and also a tour that is currently ‘in the works’ which will mark a debut London show, so we must all “keep our eyes peeled” as Mr. Moore instructed.
Yang are an enigmatic, anomaly that ooze elation and therefore just naturally grab your attention. I’m sure that their recordings (linked at the bottom of this article) are enough to prove this and will leave you to only crave more. Once we return to a state in which we can all be together again and enjoy the thing that so many of us love most – live music. I would urge everybody, that when the freedom we were once so accustomed to returns, a Yang live show is a priority. Prepare yourself to be dazzled by a refreshing, replenished live experience.
Article written by Caleb Allport
Band shout outs to ‘Momma Yang’ Hannah.
Also, special thanks to Yang for their time to talk to us at ‘Lo Tide’.