AYA YVES was the birth of a new creative project for Sydney based singer-songwriter Vendulka who has always used music to express her internal exploration. Finding herself under a newfound confident light, this project really allowed her to combine the candid vulnerability she found through a previous folk project, with her experimental leaning influences of artists like Banks and Tove Lo. The darker pop sound was unveiled through lead single ‘(in)Sanity’ and was honed even further on ‘Smart Girls’.
Gaining a lot of immediate acclaim, she began shedding more layers of her artistry through the raw and heartbreaking sentiments of ‘Dear E’ and ‘Brave’. Putting her vulnerable songwriting under a microscope, she gave a contrastingly strong outlook of what this project would look, sound and feel like the deeper she got into it.
Her debut EP ‘What We Look Like With The Light On’ is finally here in all of its confident and emotional glory, and it’s an all-rounded reflection of connection and release. It hears her taking the 4 singles and adding 3 new tracks that provide a fresh and all-rounded perspective on the relationships and personal revelations that shaped this body of work. From the removal of the rose tinted glasses on title track ‘With The Lights On’, to the scary re-discovery of feelings on the the raw ‘Spoken Word – An Interlude’, she shares yet even more sides of her artistry and vision.
I recently chatted to AYA YVES about wanting to create a connection through her debut EP ‘What We Look Like With The Light On’, explored the creative processes behind the tracks ‘With the Light On’, ‘Body That I Break’, and ‘Spoken Word – An Interlude’. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: The release of your debut EP ‘What We Look Like With The Light On’ has been a long time coming for you, so with it finally out in the world what are you hoping that listeners will takeaway from listening to it from start to finish?
AYA YVES: I want people to find release, connection, and get in touch with their feelings. I want them to feel empowered as heck through songs like ‘Smart Girls’ and ‘With The Light On’, and maybe have a little cry with songs like ‘Brave’ and ‘Dear E’.
I want to take my listeners on an emotional journey, and also for them to feel like they know me a little better after listening. The songs are all about relationships and feelings I was going through at the time, which let’s be real; we all go through. So, I hope my songs help create community.
TB: Title track, ‘With The Light On’ is a song that immediately stands out with it’s anthemic and gospel inspired hook which is going to translate so well to the live stage. So can you explain how this track came together creatively?
AY: It is SO MUCH fun to play live! I actually think it’s my favourite one in a live setting because it feels so huge. The day we walked into that session, Bri Clarks asks me what I want to write about. Originally, I said I wanted to wish my ex well and Bri knowing the full scope of the situation, was like…”really?”. So we decided to write a bit more of a f you anthem which was so cathartic!
I think anyone who comes out of a breakup questions themselves and whether or not it was them. ‘With The Light On’ is about that moment where you wake up, the rose tinted glasses are gone, and you realise how much of a badass you are, and just how many things you overlooked when you were dating.
TB: Sonically ‘Body That I Break’ is a bit different to the rest of the EP and hears some RNB and Jazz influences creeping into the mix. So what was inspiring you in particular for this track? What references did you have in the studio session?
AY: This entire EP was pretty heavily inspired by Banks. I was obsessed, and still am, with her album ‘III’. I’m pretty sure we started the sessions by listening to her track ‘Till Now’. When we were writing it, Bri sat down at a Korg and came up with that super funky bassline, which we all instantly fell in love with. Once I took the song to Xavier Dunn for production, I said the bassline was a must to stay. With the rest of the demos I was pretty breezy about elements staying in or being replaced, but I was adamant about this bassline which Xav ended up centering the whole production around. I don’t feel like we had a specific goal in mind for this song, we all just worked on it until it became exactly what it was meant to be.
TB: Taking a moment away from the big production, ’Spoken Word – An Interlude’ is a vulnerable moment of poetry reading. Why was this something you really wanted to do on the EP?
AY: Because it scares me.
I constantly want to feel like I’m pushing myself as an artist, and as a person. I wrote the poem around June 2017. I had seen a photo of an ex I thought I was definitely over pop up somewhere, and I felt a reaction in myself and just spilled out the words. I’ve had it this whole time and felt like someone out there might be able to relate, so I wanted to put it out.
TB: Does putting a track like that on the EP feel more vulnerable than putting a big production track like ‘Brave’?
AY: Oh god yes! I’d compare it to standing in front of a room of people naked. Poetry terrifies me because there’s absolutely nothing to hide behind.
TB: ’Brave’ is a tranquil moment of empowerment. My favourite lyric from the track is; “I’m not running away this time. If I need to be brave, I’ll try”. What is your favourite lyric from the song?
AY: Great minds think alike! I think that one is the most powerful. I do also really love the opening lyric “If life is only throwing stones, I think I’d rather be alone this time”. To be honest I just love the whole song *laughs*.
TB: While planning the aesthetic for this EP and the accompanying music videos, press shots, and the vinyl release, what did you want the visual elements to really represent from this body of work?
AY: Well I knew that I wanted to create something magical. Something that was beautiful, empowering, vulnerable and powerful. I’ve worked with the photographer Jenny Wu quite a bit as she’s one of my dearest friends, and we used to live together! I knew that I wanted her help because her photos are always next level. I’d also been brainstorming for a while with my fairy godmother Loulou Moxom of the florist Moxom and Whitney about a photoshoot where we could just get creative, weird and witchy. I think we did quite well!
I wanted the whole experience to feel other worldly. For it to feel ethereal.
TB: With this just being your introductory collection, what have you learnt about who you are as an artist from working on ‘What We Look Like With The Light On’ that you’ve adapted into the creative process of the forthcoming next chapter?
AY: I’ve learned that I always want my songs to mean something. I’ve learned to trust in my songwriting as there have been a lot of times where I haven’t. I’ve learned to ask for help, and to be open to collaborations that seem left of field. Magic happens in the unexpected!
TB: Last year you performed your debut headlining Sydney show at Oxford Art Factory, and you will be heading back there on March 26 for the official EP launch shows. So what song from the EP has been the most challenging to adapt into the live show?
AY: It was so much fun! I can’t wait to get back to play! As for most challenging song; vocally it’s probably ‘Body That I Break’ because there is so much space around the vocal that it doesn’t allow much room for mistakes. Also, the OG track ‘(in)Sanity’ is super challenging vocally, especially whilst jumping around on stage.
TB: Lets play a quick game of rapid fire questions…. you ready?
AY: LET’S GEDDIT
TB: The emoji that best describes my EP ‘What We Look Like With The Light On’ is…
AY : The wilting rose!
TB: The colour of my toothbrush at the moment is…
TB: A new hobby I’ve had during lockdown has been…
AY: Making gnocchi!
TB: If I could have any superpower it would be to…
AY: Speaking any language in the world including babies and animals!
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
AY: Delicious, sue me!
‘What We Look Like With The Light On’ is out now!
Purchase tickets to see AYA YVES at the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney on March 26 HERE