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Interview: Band Of The Week – Yoshi

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I once had an author friend tell me that when people find out you have written a book, you suddenly discover that everyone is writing a book. And it gets worse; they want to tell you all about it, in excruciating detail. I can tell you the same applies to being a music writer. When people find out what you do, you quickly discover that they, or someone near and dear to them, play in a band of some description – and that description is usually something like “blech”.

So when new neighbours moved in – two very hot looking, twenty–something guys – and my daughter let it drop that her mummy was a music writer, it was no surprise to me that one of them turned out to be in a band called Yoshi. He told me however they had nothing recorded yet but they were working on it. And by working on it I mean starting their own record label, Fwoosh Records and accompanying clothing line – as one does.

Yoshi BlueA friendship grew between my daughter and I and the neighbour boys, based on proximity, we share a landing and hall, the boys youthful, gregarious exuberance and our openness, humour, and constant willingness to participate in their silliness. They baby-sit occasionally, get me drunk when necessary, and look after us like big brothers when we really need it. They are good neighbours, so it was with some trepidation – fear of it being crap and that I would have to say so — that I listened to Yoshi’s debut single “Headphones” and was absolutely delighted to hear something I really liked.

Their eclectic mixture of hip-hop, powerpop, punk, ska, and maybe a bit of electronica is fun, youthful, intelligent, and utterly refreshing. I found myself very quickly addicted to the track. When I sat down and talked to some of the guys in Yoshi I learned more about their concept. Think the Gorillaz without Damon Albarn; a virtual band, no names, no photos, just music, concept, and animation. If it weren’t for their talent and drive it would probably fall flat, but already they have drawn attention from BBC Scotland’s, Radio One DJ, Vic Galloway, along with the various print media, these boys are on their way up. And up they deserve to go. “Headphones” is just the beginning, the rest of the album is under construction and there are more fun, funky t-shirts to come too. Yoshi is on its way up… I just hope that the neighbour boy fixes the hall light before he makes it big and moves out.

And after hearing what they had to offer I just had to ask them to be my Band of the Week. So here they are, in interview format, for your pleasure.

What is Yoshi? Is it a concept? Are you a real band or DJs? Who's in Yoshi?Yoshi Green

Yoshi formed in 2006, as a group of friends we played in various bands for a number of years. In an effort to create something new and distinctive we decided to start a new project, where the music would extract influences from a range of different genres. Yoshi’s music is an unusual mix of Disco, Rock, Hip Hop, Punk and Indie.

The Yoshi album is being written in the studio at the moment and is being constructed much like a lot of dance and hip-hop music is produced. That means working with a lot of loops, samples, drum machines, and keyboard parts.

The concept behind the band and the material has purposely been intertwined with video gaming, as we want our music to reflect the massive influence video gaming has had on us and on popular culture.

Once we had the bulk of the album written, we started to work on recreating the songs with a live band. After a lot of rehearsing we played our first live gig in Edinburgh in late July 2007 to coincide with the official launch of our debut single ‘Headphones’.

Where does the the name Yoshi come from?

Yoshi is the name of the bass player’s dog.

Who writes your songs? Tell us about your debut single "Headphone".

Yoshi PinkThe songs are written as a collaboration between the different members of the band. We record a lot of stuff, try things out, keep what works and get rid off what doesn’t. We use a lot of samplers and computers as well as old analog synths. Our intent is to create up-beat, feel-good party music. The band’s song writing and live performance feature three part harmonies over analog synth and drum breaks, mixed together with dirty guitar and 8-bit computer game samples.

The single was released digitally and as a limited edition CD and 7” Vinyl through Fwoosh Records on the 20th of August 2007.

The single “Headphones” is a pretty straightforward guitar riff over a percussive drum break, which deliberately sounds pretty nineties. We used a squelchy filter sound on the bass. The vocals are really dry and in your face.

The B-Side, “Demo Style”, is more full-on than “Headphones”. It has a much higher tempo and is definitely reminiscent of drum-n-bass in its production.

When does your album come out and where will we be able to pick it up?

Although most of the songs are written for the album we are currently finishing off the songs in the studio. We hope to release it next summer through our own label Fwoosh Records. In the meantime though, we plan to release one more single this year and then another early next year, so this is plenty to look forward to!

Tell us about your art work, record label, and clothing line.
Yoshi Yellow
For the single we designed original artwork, commissioned from freelance illustrator Emma Geary and based on Japanese video-game cartridges known as Hu-Cards.

We decided to form a record label to release our own material; this allows us to keep full control over all the creative aspects and direction of the project. From the start we have done things completely independently; from recording the bass guitar to deciding what kind of cardboard would be used for the 7” sleeve.

After we began working with Emma Geary and designing the artwork for the single it became clear that we had the basis to create some really cool clothing and merchandise. So working closely with Emma we designed a range of t-shirts which expanded on the characters that were created previously for the single artwork. We wanted to put as much time and effort into the design and manufacture the t-shirts as we had with the recording and production of the music.

What can we expect from Yoshi in the future?

As we said before there will be another single before the end of the year and will be playing plenty of live gigs throughout the UK. Apart from that, we will be in the studio finishing the album and hopefully designing more clothing as well as a few other surprises.

Don’t believe me about Yoshi? Check them out yourself. You can hear “Headphones”, along with a few other tracks by simply visiting their MySpace space. You can also buy their single and their funky merchandise while you’re there.

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About A.L. Harper