Rare Candy sat down with Emily Yacina to talk about her latest musical projects, writing songs in Alaska, and moving to NYC.
By Thomas Wee
Rare Candy: You’re a mostly self-taught musician, right?
Emily Yacina: Yeah, I had like music lessons when I was in middle and a little bit in elementary school. I was in the school choir, but I didn’t start recording my own stuff until I was fourteen. I go to The New School for Environmental Studies.
RC: Are you involved with music there?
EY: Not really. I just did this video for the New School Free Press where they recorded me and my other guitarist playing some songs. Besides that, I don't do really stuff at school, it’s really separate.
RC: What’s your earliest music memory?
EY: I was in elementary school and I had a notebook where I would write down poems and come up with songs. I rediscovered this notebook when I was in high school, and some of the lyrics are so funny. One of the phrases was, “why are the colors of liberty red, white, and, blue?” I actually used some lyrics and recorded them when I was in high school.
RC: Was guitar your first instrument?
EY: Yeah, guitar was my first instrument.
RC: I read you were in Alaska, what was that like?
EY: Sure! I was there doing a job with the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, which is this really small nonprofit that does organized environmental activism work in interior Alaska. I was there for two months in the summer and was working nine to five and living four miles away, biking to and from work. In my free time, I recorded most of that album, because I didn’t have internet. It was kinda ideal. I miss it. It was great, great opportunity to write.
RC: You put an album out earlier in 2017, right?
EY: Yeah, I put out just a couple of recordings, like, low key.
RC: Do you think the process behind this recent album was different?
EY: I definitely paid a lot of attention to these songs in a way that I don't usually. This album was a cohesive set of songs, and I revisited them and sent them to people to play drums or other instruments.
RC: What effect do think being in Alaska had on your songwriting?
EY: I think I just had so much space and time to reflect on my year. I still think of the summer as the end of the year. When I was there, I was just thinking about the entire school year and everything that had happened, and it was just the perfect space to reflect. I called it “Heart Sky,” because I was in an environment that was so open. There were no high buildings deflecting my view, and so, I felt like everything I was feeling was being reflected back to me through this mega open, natural space. It was just so special being in that environment and space.
RC: You’ve done a lot of collabs before with some really cool artists. Who have been your favorite musician to work with so far?
EY: It’s really hard collaborating for me. I feel like people think that I collaborate often, but really I’m just told to sing a specific line. Maybe I’m wrong, but when I think of collaborating, I think of sitting down and coming up with things together. That’s always been super hard.
In terms of just messing around and getting super experimental, I’ve enjoyed playing with my friend Johnny, who plays in Florist. He’s been really, really fun, and I feel like we both have similar ideas about what sounds good. We’re both Capricorns, [laughs] so that’s why.
RC: Have you lived in New York your whole life?
EY: No. I’m from outside of Philadelphia originally, but I came here for school.
RC: Now that you’ve been a part of both the Philadelphia and New York music scene, I’m curious, how do they compare?
EY: The Philadelphia music scene was, but especially when I was a teenager, this really active, intense community, but I didn’t really realize. There was so much going on, and I just thought that’s how it was in all music scenes. New York is definitely more established in terms of the spaces where you can play music. In Philly, It seems more in the hands of musicians themselves and their friends.
RC: I know you just put out this record, so this might be a little preemptive, but any ideas for a new project?
EY: My friend is directing a movie and she asked me to a score it. I’m really excited for that, because I feel like it will be like a creative writing class almost. Besides that, I don’t really have anything going on. I’m putting together a tour right now with Joanna. We’re gonna go out to New Mexico and come back, that’ll be in January. Other than that, I’ve just been like, chilling. [laughs].
RC: One last question: what have you been listening to recently?
EY: I’ve been listening to a lot of Palm recently. Oh! I have Duster up. They’re one of my favorite bands. Chris Weisman’s “The Holy Life That’s Coming” is really amazing. He’s one of my favorite songwriters.
Listen to Heart Sky here: https://emilyyacina.bandcamp.com/
And ‘Like’ Emily’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/emilyyacina/