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The SPECifics: Getting to Know Australia’s Yoke

Photo by Anastasia Nielsen

Photo by Anastasia Nielsen

“I’m miserable” are the first words Yoke‘s Kyle Linahan sings to listeners in the Aussie trio’s debut single, “Burden.” The track – subtle though satiating – makes as much of a statement lyrically as it does musically. Said to be about the “disconnect and dissociation” that we experience in the modern, technological world, “Burden” is a first look at Jabiluka, the band’s forthcoming EP due in September and produced by Nik Kaloper of The Jezabels. Velvety vocals, lush synth and a soundscape that will make your ears groove, this introduction to the Sydney trio’s “infectious pop” is one that you won’t soon forget.

The Spec had the opportunity to interview the up-and-coming band. Read our interview below to find out how Yoke came to be, Jabiluka and more…

The Spec: Tell us a little bit about who each of you is, including your musical backgrounds.
Kyle (vocals): I sing, I grew up inspired by soul music, specifically Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin.
Julian Boswell (guitar): Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) first made me wanna play guitar when I was 14, but I never took it seriously back then. Now I get inspired by Cocteau Twins, The Smiths, I’m also a pretty big hip-hop head.
Corin Ileto (synth, keys, vocals): I am a classically trained pianist, but my taste is pretty varied. When we made the EP, I was listening to a lot of 1980’s synth pop, Little Dragon and Com Truise.

TS: When and how did the band come into formation? Why the name Yoke?
KL: Well the band came about in a strange way really. We all used to live together in a big old share house we affectionately call Glebe Manor. The house was full of musicians, but somehow we avoided playing together during that time. Anyway, I’d recently left my job and was on a bit of a soul-searching journey. On that trip, I met up with Corin in Peru and later with Julian in Iceland. We eventually came back to Sydney and decided to start a band together. There was just something really beautiful about the etymology of the word Yoke; which is to join, unite.

yoke bandcamp, yoke band, yoke burden, jabiluka ep, yoke the band, yoke musicTS: Your debut single ,”Burden,” touches on the topic of disconnect in the modern, digital age. What other themes are addressed on this EP?
KL: I like to write pretty personally, so a lot of the EP is based on my own experiences, with some heavy themes like depression and coming to terms with your own mortality (“Burden,” “Halocline,” “Don’t Jump“). But there are also moments of blissful release, expressing the joys of self-acceptance, solidarity and friendship (“Jabiluka,” “Pink Crystal Heart“).

TS: We want to know more about your forthcoming EP, Jabiluka: When is it due to be released? What was the production process like? Using only three words, describe what listeners can expect from it?
KL: So it’s our first official release, which is incredibly exciting! Jabiluka is out on Sept. 11.
I don’t think any of us really love to record…the process is a tricky and gruelling one, but we were genuinely stoked to have our friend Nik Kaloper on board to help guide us through it.

We took about two weeks to record it between two studios in Sydney. We did really long days (12-14 hours) and it was pretty exhausting, but Nik is a machine. He worked so hard and made it a fun, unrestricted experience. Three words to describe [Yoke]: melodic, pop, that hopefully makes you feel something (I’m well aware that’s not three words).

TS: Why did you choose to name the album after Jabiluka, what significance does this location have to you?
KL: We named one of our songs and subsequently our EP after the place Jabiluka. We really liked the fact that it’s an Australian word and that it represents an expression of solidarity. In the ’90s, there was a “Stop Jabiluka” campaign where the Mirrar people blocked the mining industry from building a uranium mine on their land, we wanted to honour that. We also thought people could use a reminder of a successful campaign where people had a louder voice of influence than a corporation.

TS: How did you link up with Nik Kaloper of The Jezabels and what was it like working with him?
KL: Julian and Corin met members of The Jezabels at uni and we’ve all been great friends since. I have no idea how we convinced Nik to produce our first EP, but I’m really grateful he was able to make use of his few days off in between tours to work with us.

TS: Of all your musical influences, which artists do you think have had the biggest inspiration on Yoke’s sound and vibe?
KL: I guess The Cure and Cocteau Twins…we love vintage sounds and tend to gravitate towards instrumentation like synths, drum machines and guitar…but our aim is to make music which is more than the sum of its parts.
TS: What do you hope to see the band achieve within the next year?
KL: An album and some good tour supports would be my dream.

To keep up with band updates, including upcoming gigs, check out Yoke’s official website or follow its page on Facebook.

One Comment

  1. Excellent article. Great sound and like the look of the video.

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