Hello there, it’s been a long time but I’m delighted to finally be back on this mighty fine website with a new interview!
This time I chat to Ru aka Yva and the Toy George.
It’s been a long time since I was so this blown away by an album but her amazing new record “Slavia Divinorum” has been on constant rotation here at Pancake Towers since I was first introduced to it by the equally awesome EPP!
It mixes so many sounds and influences but remains a coherent, focused piece of work and I highly recommend your track it down via your favourite digital music shop.
I fired up the facebook messenger chatbox to ask her a few questions.
Hi Ru! How are you?
I’m ok, spring has finally arrived, so my mood is getting better.
Indeed! So, how did you choose the name Yva and the Toy George?
Actually, I don’t know, it was just a sudden thought, I didn’t want to be seen as a solo musician. Toy George is my groove box, and he (or she) is a fundamental part of my band, it mostly does everything, I’m just the vocalist 🙂
But right now, I hate this name a little bit, I wish it was shorter as I always have trouble with people remembering my name.
When I was a kid, I had this toy monkey called Curious George, so it’s also because of him and also because my parents used to listen to Boy George, they had his record.
I like that you think of the groovebox as a band member, so long as you always get along!
Well for now it is quite a happy friendship 🙂
I was going to ask about the equipment you use, because your sound is quite lo-fi but is also quite powerful
Well, the live set is a little bit different from the album recordings, although Toy george is used in both. I recorded all the songs with my friend Manuel Cascone in his studio and he helped me with the production and arrangements. Also, we changed some of the basslines with some more powerful synths, which unfortunately I don’t own.
As for the live set, I use a Korg Groovebox, a synth, a vocal processor, and a midi drum pad
Excellent, have you always had an interest in electronics instrumentation when making music, you seem to have a real skill with them
I don’t know about the skills, but, yes, I am really passionate about analog synthesizers, even though I don’t have the ability to afford most of them. I do spend lots of time reading forums about synth/electronic stuff, and watching tutorials on YouTube.
Do you remember your first musical creations?
Do you mean in a band, or my solo stuff?
Both! Do you remember the name of your first band or project?
I don’t remember the name, but it was in High School, an all girl band, we were doing covers of Black Sabbath 🙂
As for my solo stuff, I remember recording some songs with a toy Casio keyboard, and later on, on a piano. it was a Bontempi actually, I stole it from my little brother 🙂
That sounds excellent! Did you have any favourite musicians growing up that inspired or influenced you?
Definitely the Pet Shop Boys, I still love them. I remember listening to them on my walkman and riding my bike, I think that “Actually” and “Introspective” are my favourite albums of all time.
It’s interesting, I can hear certain influences come through on your latest album Slavia Divinorum, but then, it is really hard to pin down a genre, it is so wildly inventive and thrilling to listen to
Thank you so much, I do listen to many different genres
The sound is almost like a dance album but would seem to have some sort of traditional folk sound to it, or maybe I am just too stupid to work it out!
I am really in love with African percussion, but I also love much darker stuff, it depends on my mood
Going by what you have said, it sounded like a difficult album to make, But I guess all the best art is
Well, yes. some of the influences come from the balcanic folkloristic songs and turbo folk as well. Some have a more “Latin” sound, I get inspiration from what I am listening to at a certain moment
But I always start with the drums, that’s the most important part for me.
That really comes through! Your music makes even me want to dance!
I was intrigued as to how much of your sound was influenced by living in Serbia
I haven’t actually lived in Serbia that much, I left the country when I was 16. I only recently came back to stay for one year. Maybe that’s also why I am so attracted to the sounds from my motherland, I always try to come back to it, even if it’s not physically possible.
Yes, you currently live in Rome, what s the scene like there?
It’s cool, lots of things going on, there is a so called scene in Eastern Rome, where the most crazy and eccentric artists gather.
There are lots of bands, who are also my friends that are a great inspiration to me like Cascao and Lady Maru, Maria Violenza, Holiday Inn, and Acchiappashpirt.
Do you have an overall message in your music?
Some of the lyrics can be political, yes 🙂
Yes, it is a very powerful album, both musically and lyrically, although some of your lyrics are a made up language! 😉
“Africka” is a mix of Gabonese language and Serbocroatian, all the other lyrics are in Serbian, English, French and fake Spanish 🙂
It’s an impressive amount of languages, I can barely do English!
Well yes, maybe it’s because the lyrics are the hardest thing for me to write, while the music comes out spontaneously, it’s a way of playing with the words and sounds.
So, if people would like to find out more about you what is the best way?
To come to see me live maybe 🙂 and also they could check out my videos, because the filmmakers are really great 🙂
(by Jonida Prifti)
So do you have any future plans (releases, gigs, etc?)
I hope to release the first EP of my side project OPA OPA before summer for the Italian label “*Filibusta Records”.
Yes, I was going to ask about any other projects you have?
I have this project with a friend of mine, she is an Albanian poetess and performer, we play both live and DJ sets.
We do a mix of Balcanic sounds and electronica and we play folk, turbo folk, tallava and hiphop at our events. I also sometimes collaborate with a theatre troupe called “Compagina Atto 13” for which I write the music and handle sound design.
Awesome! I look forward to any future releases
Well, thank you so much for talking to me, is there anything else you would like to add?
It was a pleasure talking to you, looking forward to a gig together! maybe with EPP!
That would be super awesome!
Do you have any web links people can follow to check out your work?
Yes of course
– “Slavia Divinorum” Album in full
– “Urok” (2018) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec_Hdo4rCb4
– “Rat” (2016/2017) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNHkBWAs4So
– “The Real Ultracheap” (2013) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id6-u9cv87c
– Live on Balcony TV Genova – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ecshxz7zdU
Music and contacts:
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/yva-yva-1
FB – https://www.facebook.com/Yva-the-Toy-George-288105434542205/ Bandcamp – https://yvaythetoygeorge.bandcamp.com
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/yva3000/
Excellent, thank you so much for your time once again, and congratulations on Slavia Divinorum once again, it is a fantastic, vital piece of work.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!