YEVTUSHENKO: Japan, Alaska and Seattle in a single band
YEVTUSHENKO is an indie-rock band from Seattle.
They are Amber Shine (vox), Jeff Bazz (guitar) and Jeremiah Johnson (drums) and we love their sound, check out their EP called “DO“.
Here’s a chilled interview with the band! Have fun!
You all come from such different backgrounds, How and Where did you guys meet for the first time?
We met at the music venue that Amber & Jeremiah managed. Bazz came in as a lighting designer and ended up hosting the open mic. That was early in 2012 and by mid-summer it was pretty obvious that we were going to be a band. We experienced a few false starts early on but we started to figure things out in October and began gigging in earnest around Christmas of the same year.
Amber you were raised in LA but born in Japan right? Tell us more about your origins? Do you actually speak Japanese and go back there sometimes? Tell us what makes Japan special to your eyes?
I was born in Japan because my father was there studying martial arts. We returned to the US when I was 9 months old. I’ve never had the opportunity to return. I grew up with lots of stories about Sendai and would really love to put places to the names. Unfortunately a lot of Sendai was destroyed in the March 2011 Tsunami…a funny thing about growing up with parents who spent so many years in Japan is the typical American stereotype of feeding children chicken soup when they’re sick, instead, my parents often gave me miso soup and seaweed snacks in my lunches. Other kids thought I was weird, I thought it was delicious.
Jeremiah, is Alaska a lonely place or is it just a preconception? Do you miss it and what makes it special? What would you tell someone who has never been there?
Alaska is probably no lonelier than Iceland. I think about its vastness everyday. I miss the space and the perception of associated freedoms that’s organic to the wilderness experience. Visit Alaska in February and July, you will be effected.
I’ve heard you guys are going to perform in Iceland soon? Where else in Europe are you performing and which city are you looking forward to play in the most?
At the moment Iceland is scheduled as a one-off. We’re unsigned and completely d.i.y. so funding is always an issue but we’re working on adding more dates. There’s so much great music coming out of Iceland right and its really piqued our interest.
How’s being an emerging indie band in the USA? What are the steps and milestones for fame and glory? Do you think loads of live gigs are essential to the process or what other factors help?
We’ll let you know when the “fame & glory” shows up. Live shows are essential, there’s no practice for performance and the chaos of the stage is definitely a tempering agent. Attracting and keeping a good manager has been a huge milestone for us. We’re still searching for the right PR agent, self-promotion is always challenging. Attending shows and participating in the local music scene is extremely important to us. If great writers read then good bands should listen and there’s no environment like that of a live show!
What are your future plans and projects?
We’ll be touring the [U.S.] west coast in April and taking time in Los Angeles to record another EP. We’re hoping to put that out in July. We’re planning a full-length in the fall, following our [U.S.] east coast tour. And we’ve recently taken on scoring for film and TV – its a challenge we all really enjoy, it allows us the opportunity to push ourselves from a creative production standpoint.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
In 5 years? We’d like to be partnered with a solid record label, playing 100% more shows, eating three meals a day and working and recording out of our own studio with maybe three or four full length albums under our belt.
Can you define more specifically your type of music and where do you draw inspiration from when you are writing lyrics and music for a new tune? Any artist that inspire you?
Genre definitions can turn people off, we prefer to turn people on. Our lyrics are an amalgam of interpretations from our everyday lives and the music is the sonic interpretation of the lyrics. It’s not always that clean but that’s the basic process. We look for reference points or landmarks in the music that surrounds us, right now we’re listening to a lot of David Bowie (love his new album!), The Who’s Quadrophenia (everyone should own it on vinyl) and Purity Ring is doing some amazing stuff.
I’ve read on your website that 50% of sales of your EP go to the charity “Half The Sky Movement“, is that correct? Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Yes. Via our social media partners we’re able to contribute to the Half The Sky Movement. The essence of the movement is the use of education to effect social and cultural reform. Specifically, Half The Sky focuses its emphasis on creating opportunity for women and girls around the world. Unfortunately equality is not as clearly and universally defined as it needs to be. We’re looking forward to participating in a more active role in the future.
How’s the music scene in Seattle? And What’s your favorite Seattle music venue?
Seattle feels like a place in flux. The old neighborhoods are falling to wrecking balls and bulldozers and new aesthetics are moving in. It [the music scene] can be very insular and reactionary which makes for great people watching and surprising shows. There’s a great “underground venue” culture that seems to be curating itself fairly well and we love supporting it. It feels like house shows, empty warehouses and outdoor events are in vogue again. Seattle loves its music.
We really like places like The Skylark Café in west Seattle and The Comet on Capitol Hill. They aren’t massive clubs but there’s music there almost nightly and for show-goers these kinds of places are extremely accessible. Everything we do we do for the listener, the fan, the show-goer. The industry forgets that the individual at the door digging into their wallet for the cover charge is trying to move beyond the age of inflated consumerism. This isn’t an arbitrary philosophical stance; it’s a fight for survival.
Who are your heroes? What bands should people reading this be listening to?
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Tom Waits, Jaques Brel, Edith Piaf. These people are survivors, thinkers and re-inventors. Their timelines are full of uncompromising phoenix moments and probably just as much heartache that we, as fans, will never know. The magic of their story, and its reality, fuels us and provides guidance. And their art, as a separate entity, is beautiful in its entirety.
Rebelmart, Ever-So-Android, Triceracorn, Elemental Zazen, Katie Kate, Gogol Bordello…our list is longer than we thought it would be, but this should get you started. Oh and there’s this band from Seattle we’re really having a lot of fun with right now, we go to all their shows: Yevtushenko!