Years & Years is a promising London-based trio ready to conquer worldwide audiences with their soulful electropop. Olly Alexander, Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Turkmen are making well-structured and catchy tunes where Olly’s vocal has an opportunity to shine extra bright. If their songs wouldn’t make you dance or sway I don’t know what would. I had a pleasure to meet them after their first Polish gig during Tauron Nowa Muzyka Festival in the coal mine turned museum in Katowice. They were opening Main Stage and did it with a bang. Although tremendously tired they told me about their creative process, making videos and what’s their biggest musical guilty pleasure.
First of all I’m still surprised that you’ve come to Poland, to this festival, because I know you generally tour within the UK. Why did you choose to come and play for us?
Emre Turkmen: I think Poland chose us.
Mikey Goldsworthy: Statistically on Facebook your country is number three. I don’t know why and how but it happened for some reason.
Looking how thrilled audience has been tonight I think your music must resonate with our nature. But how did you enjoy the gig?
Olly Alexander: It was the best. It was, I think, the best show we’ve ever played. It was so good!
Emre: When we first saw the tent, we were sure it’s going to be empty. We don’t normally play main stages, so we were very surprised when people showed up.
Let’s take it back to your beginnings. You are releasing for Kitsuné Maison, it’s quite an accomplished label. How did they discover you and your music?
Olly: We met Kitsuné because another band called Citizens had our management signed by them. This was like about a year ago, we had a single and we wanted to find a label which would release it so we just asked if they could put it to Kitsuné and they said yes.
You are a very productive team and your songs are doing very well already. How far is it to the full length album?
Emre: We’re aiming to release an album early next year, spring latest, hopefully. We’ve been recording for few months now.
Do you have full material for it then?
Emre: Maybe. We’re always writing, but hopefully yes.
Olly: We’ve got lots of songs. It would just be the matter of choosing what goes on the album, you know, like process of elimination.
I’m curious how are you working with a song. Is there a lot of brainstorming, sharing individual ideas or each of you know his exact role in the process?
Emre: It can happen in all of those ways to be honest. Sometimes there’ll be a song that Olly has written and it’s finished and we sort of make music with it. Sometimes we would jam three of us in a room and come up with a song. Another time there’ll be a piece of music that me and Mikey have made and Olly will start singing over or he’ll send something over to me by telephone or sometimes we just go to the recording studio and do it there.
Mikey: Our songs go through lots of evolutions like Pokemon [laugh], each has lots of stages.
Emre: It never stops really. We have a song called „King” and now it’s kind of its third incarnation.
So when do you know which version is the final one?
Emre: We don’t. But we have to stop at some point.
Olly: It can be really hard but you have to trust the people around you, people that you work with, to tell you when it’s finished. It’s hard to see it when you’re inside of it. But it feels good when it’s done.
Emre: The best ones happen really quickly as well, sometimes they’re finished before you even realize.
Let’s go further then. Who would be your dream collaborator?
Emre: I’d say Prince, Prince would be good. I can’t quite imagine that but it’s a dream, it doesn’t have to sound logic.
Mikey: Flying Lotus maybe? But I don’t think it would work either. Too weird.
Olly: Little Dragon would be amazing to work with.
Mikey: Backstreet Boys? [laugh]
Olly: Well, I want to write something for Beyoncé one day.
Beside making great tunes, you also made two interesting videos for „Real” and „Take Shelter”. How did you come up with the idea for the latest one?
Olly: I wanted to show us losing our minds and because the song was about how I felt like I lost my mind over someone. Then I just sort of took that to some weird place. My friend Emily Browning who is in the video happened to be in London and she happened to be free and I just thought we could do something really cool. So she became this shaman character who hypnotizes us and cast the spell on us. It’s started from that place and then gradually grew into this insane video.
So are we expecting another crazy video for the next single?
Olly: It’s not gonna be like a standard music video. I don’t know we’ll ever make one. It’s a challenge, you want to make better video each time.
It seems like music videos are very important to you. Do you think they can change how people feel about songs?
Olly: Yeah, because I think people listen to music visually now. Everyone’s watching stuff on YouTube. Good music video can really help a song. When people love it, they start showing it. But on the other hand good music video doesn’t necessary make a bad song great. The way we are now consuming music is through them so they’ve got to be good. After all video is the part of the art.
Working in studio is one thing, but playing music live is the other. What’s the most exciting thing about getting on stage?
Olly: Just having an audience I think. We’ve been gigging for quite a while and we’ve done so many shows but four years ago there’s literally been no one there or like three people there. So now when we have an audience and they know the music, they want to hear the songs, it’s the best feeling.
Emre: Yes, and when people are singing back as well that’s kind of weird. [laugh]
Finally, you’ve mentioned your inspirations like Little Dragon, Flying Lotus, but do you recall any kind of music that makes you feel so-called „guilty pleasure”?
Emre: Oh God yes. I quite like… A-ha?
Mikey: Mine’s Take That, probably without Robbie Williams.
Olly: I don’t even know what guilty pleasure is. I think it’s always a pleasure, doesn’t matter what it is. You should be able to love Rihanna and Beyoncé and also love Kelele and FKA Twigs. You should draw inspiration from everything.
Well, your music certainly gives a pleasure. Thank you for the talk!