Interview: German alternative breakout band YOUTH OKAY discuss the creative process and meaningful messages behind upcoming album TURNS.
SICK AND SOUND presents to its readers an interview with YOUTH OKAY, a brand new alternative outfit from Munich, Germany formed in 2018.
We are catching up with the band after the release of their last single FOR A MOMENT on September 6th, 2019, following up previous singles Quite A Lot Alone, Get Up and Supposed To Do. The tracks are anticipating the band’s debut album TURNS due out on October 4th, 2019 via Munich Warehouse.
Our editor-in-chief Alex is catching up with DANIEL (vocals) and JAKOB (bass) from YOUTH OKAY on the creative and writing process behind the record, the four singles released and most importantly on the meaningful messages and lyrical themes revolving around depression and mental illness awareness. We’ve also talked about the 100-page concept book coming out with the record and the band’s upcoming tour across October And November 2019.
- Hello YOUTH OKAY and welcome at SICK AND SOUND. Let’s introduce your band by talking about how it has been put together and discuss your influences in terms of bands and genres.
Hey Sick and Sound, nice to be with you guys. We’ve been making music together in Germany for a long time now. In retrospect, it’s hard to say how our group could even stick together because we started from very diverse music styles. Also, we always had problems integrating our brass section into a style that we are all pleased with. One day as a joke, we started to play our trombone and trumpet through the guitar effects. It sounded terrible. But from this experience the vision emerged to change the sound of our brass instruments through filters. At the same time, we included two more musicians in our family and finally discovered our own content and sound. Our line-up as YOUTH OKAY consists of vocals, drums, guitar, bass, trombone FX, and trumpet FX. Our most important influences of the last years were Enter Shikari, Papa Roach and Bring Me the Horizon.
- You are mainly pigeonholed in the alternative soundscape. How do you see the soundscape/s you fit in or how shall you describe your own signature sound and unique features?
We like to call our genre Alternative Rock Brass FX. Our trumpet and trombone are distorted by digital filters and effects. This creates a synthesizer-like sound that still reflects the human component. A machine produces a different basic tone than a musician. This gives us broad field of possible sounds as a unique feature of YOUTH OKAY, which we have only been able to grasp superficially until now. We are looking forward to exploring this technique in the years to come. We combine this sound with somewhat harder alternative rock.
- TURNS is your debut album set to be released on October 4th, 2019 via Munich Warehouse. It seems to discuss some meaningful lyrical themes related to depression and mental illness awareness, especially from a very personal point of view. So let’s talk about the lyrical themes discussed in the record and the message that YOUTH OKAY wish to bring forward with them.
I think that mental illness is still a taboo topic in our society. Almost everyone is close to someone that struggles with mental illness or is affected themselves, but at best you tell your closest friends openly about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could talk about these things naturally, just as you talk about a headache? I was trapped in this situation most of my life. My family consisted of only my manic-depressive mother and me. I experienced what this disease can do to someone every day. In addition to the very depressive phases, there are the equally unhealthy manic phases during which one cannot live a regular life. My mother took her life a few years ago. It is important to me that other people in a similar situation hear my message. Don’t give up, take care of yourself and above all, talk to people about it and ask for help.
- Most recent single FOR A MOMENT gave the world another taste of your music output on September 6th, 2019. This is following up your previous singles Quite A Lot Alone, Get Up and Supposed To Do. Let’s share the details of those forerunners and the mindset behind choosing these songs in particular to represent the whole album.
The single GET UP is our first scream out into the world. Show attitude and stand up for what is right. The right is on the rise throughout Europe and xenophobia has become socially acceptable. It was very important for YOUTH OKAY to set an example against this. The next 3 singles focus on the main theme of our debut album, dealing with mental illnesses. SUPPOSED TO DO describes a relative’s view, who also suffers from the illness of the affected person. What am I supposed to do? This question accompanies you every day again and again. I never found the right answer for myself and my mother. QUITE A LOT ALONE describes the view of an affected person. The retreat into yourself, the isolation and dissociation from family and friends – this leads to you building yourself a prison from which you can’t escape without help. In FOR A MOMENT I tell my personal story. It’s about an experience I had with my mother many years ago. The music videos describe a manic depression with colours. Black, white and gray. White phases are a pathological highs, in which you hardly sleep. You would like to undertake everything and embrace the whole world. Black phases are the opposite. They are marked by depression and retreat. You hardly ever leave the house. Only during the gray phases in the transition periods does the person act as they would without the illness for a short time.
Watch YOUTH OKAY – For A Moment (Official Video):
- What was the general writing and creative process approached when you sat down and worked on Turns?
We always try to write as much as possible as a group. Most of the time I have an idea and give it to the band with a basic structure. Everyone then writes their part precisely, only to completely change it in the studio and do something different.
- What are some of the challenges or concerns you’ve been facing with recording and producing the record, if any? And some of the stuff you’ve been enjoying the most.
The biggest challenge was ourselves. We started writing this album when YOUTH OKAY and our new sound didn’t even exist. That’s why the album was originally very chaotic, and we had to put the pieces together for months. But at the same time, that was the most beautiful thing. To see how our music changed constantly and step by step became what we always wanted it to be.
- TURNS comes out together with a 100-page concept book including lyrics, background stories, and much more. This is a very stylish choice I wish to know more about.
We have been looking for a new and more personal way to bring our music and inspiration closer to people. I think every modern band has problems spreading their art beyond the digital market. Streaming services are ideal for listening to music quickly and easily, but what is missing is the personal component. The listener often doesn’t get an impression of what a band stands for, what topics they want to address and what drives them to live for their music every day. The concept book is a look behind the scenes, into our heads and hearts and to shows what influenced us in writing and producing this record.
- You are about to venture on a run of shows across October and November to support the release of the album. So how are you preparing for this tour and what feelings and expectations are you carrying along?
We’re actually freaking excited. You work very isolated for years when writing an album. You make the music rather for yourself than an audience. With the step into the public you feel like a 10-year-old who is playing his guitar in front of his parents for the first time. We have played a few concerts since our founding in April, but this will be our first tour as YOUTH OKAY. No matter how well you prepare, you can never plan everything. But we are most excited to present our show to you guys. We worked very hard on our live show all summer and the tour can start!
- What are some of the craziest and coolest things you have experienced at a live show or recording session so far?
It may not be a crazy rock star story, but for me the most exciting part were the people we worked with on this album. As part of our songwriting and especially the concept book, we have met many people, some from mental institutions, who themselves suffer from mental illness. Many of them were great artists. To get insights into the life and the journey of these people is one of the best experiences I have had in recent years. Some work of these artists can also be found in the concept book.
- What else do you have in store in 2019? Let’s share some anticipations, more shows or any other news related to the promotion of this record.
We will release one more single before our album at the end of September. We will also play some live sessions and shoot a live show video. You should keep your eyes open for YOUTH OKAY at festivals in 2020.
Thank you for your time and having a chat with us YOUTH OKAY. Good luck for the promotion of your debut album. We will keep on supporting you into Europe and US!
Thank you for having us. Keep up the good work!
YOUTH OKAY – Turns tracklisting:
1. The One to Change
2. For a Moment
3. Get Up
4. Static Air
5. Supposed to Do
6. What’s it All About
7. Mouse in a Maze
8. World on Fire
9. Left Untold
10. Quite a Lot Alone
11. Turn Around
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