Photo by Matt Draper
Interview with Yasmine Kittles | By Morgan Y. Evans
To be completely honest, once you talk to Yasmine Kittles you hope she sticks around. The appreciation in her voice when she talks about her work in various spheres of entertainment comes from a genuine, inspiring place. Like the best moments of Sonic Youth in their fluidity, Kittles seems able to bring good taste, humor and class to lo-fi or hi-fi endeavors, the raw and the theatrical. There’s a warmth to her frequent laughter and a serious cut to her wit. Whether in the critically acclaimed Tearist or her elastic comedy, Kittles rides the edge with stunning ease but seemingly without the death wish of some on the lunatic fringe of pop, indie/punk, comedy or noise rock culture who’ve come before her. It’s not everyday you get someone capable of equally straddling disciplines so well. She’s honestly fucking amazing.
Living: 2009-Present, sent ripples of excitement and rekindled possibility into the scene when Tearist dropped the industrial strength live debut album upon the masses. William Stangeland Menchaca and Kittles found a William Gibson-esque sweet spot where the horizon line of past and present was hyper speeding into the future with a whoop and a whirl. It was coldly dehumanizing yet also warm yet with womb-like dance textures AND avant noise.
Like mysterious agents of cool intent on making their own statement from the canyons of some future shock city out there in a mirage of smog somewhere. Like Prurient on a hypothetical Kate Bush kick or Joy Division’s relentless live take on “Sister Ray” from the extra tracks on STILL, Tearist music is both deeply resonant on a direct level and capable of being shockingly fierce. Or a comforting anti-pop, where even when you are slightly offput you’re glad someone is doing it.
Since my dad died in January I’ve been writing about lots of music, but only able to really listen on a personal level for enjoyment to stuff like Tearist, Jarboe and Helen Money, Current 93’s Island album or The Last Temptation of Christ soundtrack. Moving stuff that is kind of revelatory in a dance between distance and center of soul. Ok, so maybe a little Cypress Hill with Kim Gordon (ha!) or the extended dance outro cassette version of “Crazy” by Seal. But, y’know what I mean? Gucci Mane right now? Nope, it’s gotta be really moving.
But “moving” is just an over simplistic facet of what Tearist is and is capable of. Tearist is a movement. Yet while Kittles could seem perhaps unapproachable or as a cult of personality to people who are intimidated by a strong woman, she also has anxiety attacks. Like real people. And posts parody photos of her dog re-enacting The Notebook with her.
“The first time I was in the mixing room I had an actual mental breakdown,” Yasmine texts me. “I thought,”Oh I get it. This is how people go crazy,” and I accepted it since I was hallucinating and couldn’t form sentences, and I couldn’t move my legs. I genuinely believed I had lost my mind.I thought maybe I was having a stroke. Didn’t know. I, apparently, had gotten so stressed that I was having a rare form of migraine… A “migraine with aura.” I didn’t even know that existed. But that’s what happened.”
But Kittles still goes for it/jumps in that fire.
“Sexiest Person Alive” polls usually pick easy sells, so to speak. Nothing against the funny and fart joke prone Kate Upton at all, for example (all due respect to Ryan Gosling), but Upton’s curvaceous blondness is never going to challenge American norms unless she has like a “shaved head Britney” moment or says something super profound when she is not supposed to. I do like how Upton’s Instagram has a great Marilyn Monroe quote: “Imperfection is beauty. Madness Is Genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
That is totally the right track, Kate. Let’s all remember that Marilyn was not just a pretty face, ran shit on JFK and also smoked weed with Truman fucking Capote.
So…Yasmine. Kittles doesn’t have to try, even if she doesn’t maybe know it all the time. She’s got “it” and should never be self-conscious. It’s refreshing to see more “no fucks given” types (who not so secretly really do care) like Azealia Banks or Kittles out there getting some recognition. Women willing to show different sides of their personas or experience and buck expectation, but who also don’t fit standard archetypes so easily.
My (so embarassing) OkCupid page truthfully says how my type is “difficult, mouthy witches” and has Nachtmystium as “romantic music.” Yasmine is a total code red crush zone for me as not only is she exotic and easy to look at, but I see she respects herself and is super intriguing and multi-faceted. I’m so not into being creepy by saying that but am rather really drawn to people who fuckin’ go for it and make no qualms. Yolo, yo. #FTW #PMA. Bright comets. And above all superficial stuff I wanted to do this piece because I really believe in her authenticity and work. Cuz while she is a total outer-space babe it’s also about not being so egotistical that your work and public persona suffers and is riddled with gaffes, like Kanye (not to take away from the times he is solid gold, like most of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy).
I had a friend recently tell me how she was seeing a guy who was really cool but seemed afraid to “take her someplace” on a less surface, vanilla level, in conversation, bed or otherwise. Kittles is a true survivor of 5 lung collapses, a hard worker and a pop culture enthusiast. She is not afraid to take you along on the journey but is going to go anyway. So, whatever.
She can be more straightforward, as in a thrilling as yet unreleased music video (collabo with David Sitek) for Tearist’s “Headless” that takes their perhaps biggest song in a slicker but still deeply ambitious story-boarded direction, heavy on symbolism and facial control of expression from Kittles that would make Kurt Cobain and Broken Flowers-era Bill Murray a little jealous. Seriously, wait til you fucking see it.
She did stuff vocally with Former Ghosts that was really above the processing levels of most casual music fans. She bangs on herself and metal objects in Tearist and it isn’t a gimmick. Kittles writes funny VICE guest columns about finding a crazy Yelawolf CD in a bargain bin and leaving it on a top major label A&R desk with a “very important” post it note just to see what happens or hysterical rants on her parents reactions to famous people. She is fucking hysterical. Fans of her In Lust series with Tim and Eric’s actor/director Eric Wareheim can quickly vouch for that. It also was really great after a shitty day to have Yasmine call me to gush about the mega importance of KLF’s “Burn A Million Quid,” just out of enthusiasm.
There is a real connection between the KLF or Crass/Huggy Bear/Nation Of Ulysses approaches to manifestos and almost situationist approach to pop/rock that is the essence of creativity for me, that regardless of what medium the message comes in, the core themes, human striving and artistic passion are meaningful and tight. Yasmine is all about that shit. And she still talked to me even after I sent her a video of me singing Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart.”
This was the clincher though that proves her awesomeness. My ex’s six year old Miette saw a picture of Yasmine looking right out of Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love classic clip and holding a big pink fish and Miette said,”I have toy fish! And a keyboard.” She promptly asked me to help her make Yasmine a music video (this is a kid who likes Alice Cooper, Kid Congo, Swans soundtracked MLP: Friendship Is Magic tea parties). So we sent it to Yasmine and she sent us back a clip of her dog seriously playing piano better than most hipster Brooklyn bands. So now my ex’s daughter kind of has a fake band with Yasmine Kittles dog called Dog City.
Y: Hey, sorry. I was in the shower. I hadn’t spoken at all, all day. I live alone. I was interested in what sound was going to come out of my mouth. Is that weird? When I’m alone I don’t speak a lot.
M: It’s good. Some people practice that in Hinduism because they think it makes them really in tune with their environment.
Y: There’s certain days where I’ll go out to something and realize this is my first time speaking to somebody in days. It’ll be like eleven PM and I’ll have mental anxiety. “What will I say?”
M: That sounds wonderful (laughing).
Y: I also have to always look like I’m actually doing an interview. (laughing)
M: You are.
Y: I mean I have all these ritualistic things from childhood. Even if it is a phone interview, I have to look nice and be clean. Anyway. That’s not important.
M: No , we appreciate that in music journalism, when some of our subjects bathe. You made me think of how Celine Dion…
Y: (howling with laughter) Stop right there. Celine Dion. Done.
M: (chuckling) Well, I heard she doesn’t speak for like three days before a show so her voice comes out like purest crystal or something. I forget how she worded it.
Y: I’m sorry. Pure crystal?
M: I probably made that part up.
Y: That was the best part. I’ve gotten to the point where at a show people try and talk to me and it’s weird when you’re about to play. Some downer people are like (laughing) ,”yeah, I’m losing my job and had to move out of my place. How are you?”
And I’m like (deadpan),”Um, I’m about to play a show.” You’ll not want to have a conversation before you do, at least I do, something revealing that requires you to be fully present and I do think that sounds a little Celine Dion-ish of me. I don’t want that outside energy. I’m not trying to sound like a crystal…a pure diamond…hold on. Can you not, please, take this lotion? I got a new puppy. Oh, you saw it.
M: What’d you name it?
Y: Oh, Gizmo.
M: Nice. I feel like you’re channeling a lot of energy. Your early stuff has this kind of organic meets mechanical quality. I’ve always been able to talk to people before a show, kind of scope out the terrain first and relax a bit. So other people’s (laughing) fuckin’ bullshit doesn’t bother the energy I have to bring.But any concert when I sing it’s impossible to really talk for about a half hour for me after the fact.
Y: Oh yeah, no! That’s like the worst, too. At first it was easier to do. When you’re a newer band you can walk away. Now, this is insane and amazing. I was playing this show at SXSW and there was like four shows that day or five. We really like fuckin’ went all in. Not “the last year”, but the last one before I decided, like, never again. Some places were new to me. I used to live in Austin. Afterwards, I really, really want to be alone like 100%. I’ll try to hide in whatever area. At SXSW there’s not an area. You have to rush off and play another show. I think I sat in a stall for a sec…I walked out and talked to my friend Travis, y’know Travis of Pictureplane? He was playing the show too and I turned around. He said ,”Oh, I think they are waiting to talk to you.” There was a line of people! The venue was so far away from everything. And all these people were just waiting their turn to ask me what happened to them. Not rushing off to another show. Really calm and polite. I’ve never seen it in a festival environment. I’ve always tried to engage with people. I thought ,”this is so strange but I have to leave.”
M: Be real with people.
Y: Right. That really does affect how people view everything. About you, the music, everything. I don’t know what just happened to me. How can I explain it to you? Having these conversations about shamanism, deep stuff. So incredible. When does that happen, especially at a festival? There’s a million things you are trying to rush to. Kids and teens and people just finding out about Yoko Ono. People with braces. I thought ,”This is it!” I want to be respectful to that energy. I felt like that when I was younger and a fan. It’s cyclical. When there were people that were…I’m was pretty (laughing)…WAS… I’m pretty nerdy. I was going to High School and shows and I was so cool , in my head. But I would just fan out. I’d wish that I could someday talk to this person. It’d be like someone in, like, I don’t even want to say. Some bad bands. I had some interesting phases.
M: (smirking) It happens.
Y: Like, The Get Up Kids. (squeals) I don’t know if you know that band.
M: Yeah. I like Something To Write Home About. (chuckling).
Y: Oh my God, I had their shirt. I’d wear it to school and be like ,”No one has this shirt.” Or,”Oh my God, I just want to… talk to their drummer. He’s so goood!” (laughing). Or ,”I wonder…when I’ll have a boyfriend?” (laughing).But really you wanted to go over and speak to someone about, anything. And if they wrote you off or were rude, it was so huge. You hated the band. I can’t listen to the music without remembering how they treated me when I was just telling them they had a great show. I don’t do that now. I mean, I do that with my friends. But unless I’m super moved I don’t go up and fan out. For instance, if I were to meet like, someone that I highly admire…I don’t know…fuck…Paul Weller. I don’t know why that came to mind right now. But yeah, from The Jam. Certain people I would want to meet on a level where they know what I do and could have respect for me and hear me. It’s not just a fan but they can take it in, y’know?
M: Yeah. Take in the discourse. Totally.
Y: With people I genuinely, truly admire I can’t just go up and say ,”I love your stuff.”
M: Yeah, not like an ego thing. But you don’t want them to see you as an ant.
Y: Exactly. It’s so much more interesting to have a back and forth. And it’s happened! Holy shit, I’m meeting this person on the same level. I’d never have thought. Well, a mutual respect. There’s nothing more amazing to me than that.
M: It can be inspiring when you think “Am I crazy for doing art? This person did and are awesome and inspiring and I’m talking to them.”
Y: That’s the thing. When someone has been SUCH an influence, I cannot meet them unless we are meeting for a reason. I know what they’ve done for me. I’m not going to be waiting in line back stage. If it’s a younger band or a friends band playing for the first time, I will most definitely be there. And knowing they are taking in what I am saying. The respect thing. Thank God! When you see a band and they are great and not contrived. When you find the ones, when you believe them and cannot go to the bathroom or have someone try to talk to you while you’re at the show. I don’t even know that I clap. I just stare. Like ,”OMG, holyshit. I’m so glad this still exists.” The real stuff. And I believe you 100%. That happened with one friend’s band from Australia. Do you know Kirin J Callinan? I didn’t know anything about him but that a friend of mine that runs Terrible Records put some of his stuff out. There was fuss being made. Anytime there’s fuss being made I am kind of like “uhhh”. It’s when you ruin the movie. “You’re gonna love this movie!” Thanks, now I probably wont. I’ll be like watching it like “Which part did I love?” or “What part am I loving?”
M: “Don’t they know me?”
Y: “What made them think I was gonna love this?” (laughing) But this guy was playing and it felt so confident and good. The tones were so…I have a hard time talking about stuff I do feel passionately about but it was an incredible performance from a guitarist. It’s been awhile since I’ve been like ,” this person isn’t trying to channel, and that’s arguable, one person in particular.” I can say, and this is all I want for myself, and it’s luckily been the case…you want when people compare you to things that it “makes you feel like”. It’s usually what I’ve gotten and it’s been all over the map. It’s “like” this and this and this. But maybe that’s just the feeling they had. Nothing’s gonna sound completely original ever. Everything’s been done, but recognizing that and being able to turn it into…(coughs) I’m so sorry.
M: It’s ok. Well, like early Psychic TV struck me as similar or Joy Division doing “Sister Ray” and it was jammed out, like a ritual. People do stuff like that, but…not that I’m comparing you to them. But it was nice when Living: 2009-Present came out because, I mean, I knew it was L.A. but I found myself imagining the environments you were in from being pulled in by the music. It’s nice to hear the music and energy and sort of let your brain conjure up environment.
Y: Where it might be. Yeah! I really like that about it to. No one ever talks about that. Someone mentioned to me there’s a song where I mention “there’s one person here”. That was me looking through one of my pipes. And that was one of our biggest shows. We sold out at the El Rey. (laughing) That was hilarious. Obviously you could think that because you don’t know. I said that because there were so many people there and covered my other eye. It was so packed, y’know? It was an incredible feeling to see all these people like that. I don’t really banter, but. I can’t remember what song it was. Maybe “End Flux”.
M: It’s nice the live element matters to you. It’s not just an art installation or fashion piece for selling the sound. Your recordings have texture also.
Y: This band first started getting press solely from the live show. New stuff,it’s not out. I’ll send it to you. It’s a 100& different sound. Studio it’s a different beast. It’s a very different thing.
M: Not to say you’re playing with fire, but with your health scares wouldn’t it be easier to just do studio? It’s brave you are willing to risk it.
Y: My lung collapses? It is. That’s another thing. I’m always scared also because I get in this zone where I don’t…people who lack knowledge of what the Theater of Cruelty is…it’s a manifesto. Forcing people out of complacency and why should the audience feel comfortable. Creating a language that means something but is not actually a language. The loudest pitch ever heard that should not be heard. Instruments that should “not” be instruments. I come from a theater background. I was studying that. The things that I would write, for instance, would not be accepted at school. It didn’t fit this mainstream fuckin’…it wasn’t easy. I don’t think you should go to a show and be able to have a conversation. And I don’t want my music played in the background. If someone wants to have a conversation, we’ll stop it. You shouldn’t be able to, if it’s strong enough. Studying for my thesis and I did a piece and it was understanding (Antonin) Artaud. I did it on this long fire escape where the echo was incredible. I think I had Neubauten playing at the bottom so it sounded crazier. So, y’know, people were watching from my class. I had this bucket of water. I’ve never talked about this actually. Each time I would go down the steps the water would splash and my feet would make a splash and it would echo.
(Barking) (Screaming sounds) Y: Hold on. My dad, I mean (laughing) my intern just came over.
M: Putting him to work.
Y: He drops by and is like “Oops. Just dropping by. And…Can I see the dog?”
Y: No, he just really, loves that dog. He…Oh my god! Ewww! Oh my god his penis! Did you see that? It’s humongous. Oh my Jesus Christ.
M: He’s packin’ heat?
Y: It’s abnormally large for his size.
M: They say you are supposed to put a bag of sugar over it.
Y: Put it in a bag of sugar? What do you mean?
M: Someone told me to do that to a Great Dane once that has a swollen member but I didn’t.
Y: Someone lied to you.
Y: Let me get him out of here. He’s chewing on my chord. Right when I was in the middle of saying something real. But Y’know what, this is real too. Dad, did you see his penis?
Yas Dad: I was trying not to.
M: He’s been cooped up?
Y: He’s a special offender. Alright, goodbye. Thanks Dad, I love you. See you in a minute. I remember…I was splashing down the stairs and I let out a shriek. I’d stayed by myself for awhile beforehand. To kind of “realize” what I was doing. Which was to represent how we are confined by language. I didn’t feel the desire to make people like you that goes into art that some people have as a way to fit in. Instead of actually being passionate about it. So many people just copy another person’s style. It’s validation and credibility. “This is why I matter”. Anyway, I’m doing this thing…did he just piss on the fuckin’ floor? Oh God (laughing). So the water was splashing and it sounded so amazing. I was kind of hearing it all come together for the first time. Everyone was quiet, like “what’s going on”? “What is she doing”? There’s were all very controlled and “I’m definitely gonna get a good grade” and this was not. All of a sudden, obviously…which was not obvious to me at the time…I slipped and fell down the stairs.
Y: Because there was water in a bucket that went splash.
M: And you were tiptoeing around. Fuck. Did you wreck it bad on the metal? Were you alright?
Y: I screamed. I hit my head really bad. But then it became about having them understand me and what we do as artists and how we’d kill or should for the performance. We are putting it out there. Then by the end of it I didn’t even know what happened. By the end of it I cut my hair out. I accidentally cut someone’s arm and I didn’t know that either. This girl came up and said “Look at my arm” and I said ,”Oh my God. What’d you do” and she said ,”you cut my arm”. And I said ,”On purpose?” and I said “I don’t know”? And she said ,”thank you.” The last person I expected to say that. A super “theater” can’t wait to to be in Phantom person. It made them feel. People didn’t leave after it was done, either. I don’t remember exactly what happened but I do remember feeling this pain of “why can’t they understand this”. Can they feel this pain of all these things? After that it became something that…I never thought I’d be able to put the two together. Music and performing. I’ve been an actress my whole life. I never thought there’d be a band situation that I could create that would let me do all of these things. Because I don’t dance like that. I was a trained dancer. I was a figure skater for years. Competitive.
M: The full package.
Y: I mean, like…My mom reminded me that I dance at a Mavericks game at halftime. The youngest person. Twice. I apparently was great at improv. Like, I don’t remember certain aspects because I’ve done a lot of things. They seem like they’re not connected, but they are. So when I get on stage I can’t fucking phone it in…and it sucks, but… doesn’t suck. But every show day before a show I get diarrhea. Because I know I have to be there. I have to be really present. It really depends on how I’m feeling.Or there was one time where someone said ,”I saw her in San Diego and it was crazier.” Oh, sorry. Sorry I didn’t roll around in blood.
M: Your Yelp rating went down.
Y: It’s not for shock value at all. I scare myself. I’ve hurt myself a lot with the pipe on stage. There’s many amazing stories of me thinking my leg was my pipe and banging it and thinking ,”that normally makes a sound. Now it doesn’t. Oww, that’s my leg.” It’s crazy. I don’t even know what’s happening. And I’m afraid if I don’t control it…I have to learn. I can recognize when there’s danger.
M: Do you get used to the space on stage and distance between objects and people?
Y: There’s been (laughing), there’s too many stories about that. It’s an animal instinct that takes over to protect and defend. The L.A. Weekly cover stuff happened and someone who is like a bigger person that wanted to work with the band, um, kind of sexually assaulted me, and under the guise of wanting to work with me. I knew that was true because they’d been telling people, but they came to my house and it was someone I knew. So that happened and then suddenly there was all this attention and then these people saying they wanted to violently rape me…but “in a positive way”. I’m sorry, what? It was so much of it at one time. Everything had happened it seemed within a couple weeks. And VICE, whom now I am associated with years later, at that point had dumb shit like reviewing albums like reviewing our live album with a vomit face. And I read the vomit face review. It compared the band to a blowjob. Which, I think that’s a positive thing.
M: It’s supposed to be.
Y: Yeah, they said I probably like choke sex. Those were the main two things but then it said “I actually like them” and the person was going to our show but wouldn’t make eye contact. What the fuck is that? Did you even know the album was live? You never mention it’s a live album or details. To get upset about that is ridiculous but it happened so much at one time. I’m not trying to dress sexy. I like to blur the line. That’s one thing I’m trying to do. I think I look like Henry Rollins on stage. Veins in my neck and my sweat is unreal. I think it’s not attractive! (Laughing) I’m not like crawling on the ground with whipped cream squirting out of my, like, tits. To try to sexualize…I dunno, I do think at that moment it was hard for me to speak out about it, at that time. In the last couple years it has changed but in 2011 it felt like people would think I was trying to get attention. In the last couple years it’s changed.
M: But if you don’t…
Y: Yeah, you have to if you have a platform. I felt like the only way to address it would be to mock these articles or make statements aimed at their general direction but not as if they had, y’know, anything on me. But it was a hard balance.
M: Yeah, I can relate in that I was private to being bi a long time and eventually doing articles and talking to enough people I got the confidence to get out in front of it and kind of take on fears or use writing to promote conversation. And it’s really made me more confrontational with some of the BS out there. Not even about validation but just being yourself.
Y: Yeah, actually around that time I had a girlfriend. It’s probably not going to be the most interesting thing we’ll talk about but I remember if she and I were together, I’d never felt that feeling before that it was weird to people. Of not being accepted. And it’s real. It happens now. Then someone made some kind of comment like ,”Oh, so you guys are a gay band?” And I was like ,”Whaaaat?!!!” That’s how some people think. It was such a strange thing and new thing for me. I also didn’t feel like I had to “come out” because I really did realize it was about the person. I fell in love with this person and to not talk about it was weird. Why can’t you talk about it without getting this kind of label? It was such a strange feeling. We went out for a long time and it was really difficult because I didn’t like the way it made her feel. How is loving this person who I think is incredible, suddenly everyone has an opinion. You don’t know us.
M: You’re just trying to have your experience without these social filtered judgments.
Y: Yeah. The fact people think like that…And someone had written they wanted me to sit on their face.
M: That’s thoughtful, I guess.
Y: I did this video with Eric Wareheim and the idea was not that I was sitting on his face. It was actually a sweet video. Have you seen the In Lust video?
M: Yeah, yeah. I like the escalator part.
Y: The first one? Yeah, we’ve done a couple.
M: You were in the crowded area of people shopping and still represented.
Y: Yeah, that was right in the heart of Hollywood. Over by the Chinese Theater. Basically what had happened is we were at Coachella before that and we hadn’t seen each other for a bit. And we’re very close. I saw him from a distance and he was, I swear to God, eating a plate of chicken breasts and one in his hand. Going for it. And I saw him and was like .”Eric!” and he was like “Yasmine!”. He threw the chicken slow motion in the air. We have so many videos of us seeing each other after awhile and running to each other screaming. It’s ridiculous. So I started running and he threw his chicken like he was gonna start running but stayed there. So I was like running for a minute and (laughing) I wasn’t that close. So he waited and I jumped onto him. And instead of grabbing me like normal he somehow, maybe it’s the figure skating…he’s so tall he grabbed from my leg and put me on his shoulders. And I was like “I love you. I missed you.” And tons of his fans were around so people just watched something strange. Someone had filmed it so we thought ,”Oh, we can do it better”. So we did it a few more times and one was like “I am so sad. I just missed my friend.” And I walk out a door and see him and I think he threw salad. So after this happened we were really proud of ourselves and asked for the footage, because it wasn’t something we’d planned on doing. It was genuine. And they wouldn’t give us the footage! So we just remade the video. Like, “what i we did it all around town at a bus stop and grocery store?” So one day he called and was like “We gotta do it or we’re not gonna be able to do it for a really long time.” And I was like at practice and I’m not really in the mood but,”Ok, let’s just do it.” And so on our way there we’re kind of emotional. He’s coughing and really sick. We get this video and there’s one definite ice skating move. So it was a really sweet idea for us. I don’t think we realized at the time what it looked like and that my crotch was in his face. I don’t even think I took it personally but it was like ,”It’s just a sweet video. They don’t even understand.”
SO someone mentioned how one day they want me to sit on their face. So Bust took this on and about how it happens even when someone like me is not trying to portray that. I do think it’s that old school sexism. “It’s so funny when you’re racist. Oh, it’s so funny when you’re sexist.” Like qualifying it. Maybe it’s easier to understand if you can dumb it down. If someone writes that way it sounds to me like they are trying to take away value.
M: Did you hear about the Nimrod who said on Fox that women earn less in America because they choose to? It makes them invisible.
Y: Anything that challenges you.
M: People should applaud confidence and not being meek.
Y: It’s so ridiculous. I do commercial stuff. You want me to sing a pretty song? I can do it. It’s easy. But it’s not my voice, y’know? I can do an impression of a “normal” person. I did an All State thing where I had to sound like Cat Power. Of course. When I was younger I tried to sound like Cat Power. I think that’s why this band means so much to me. It did represent everything, so many things I felt I was able to do with it. Everything I did artistically, it started off. If I did a conceptual piece or painting it was all Tearist. I was more interested in movements.
M: One roof. You think of Carrie from Sleater-Kinner who can also do comedy on Portlandia but it shoudn’t have to seem rare.
Y: When I did Carson Dally we went 45 minutes over because they had to cut because they were laughing. We did the B Roll and I was like doing whatever I wanted. “We love it”. It was a great feeling. And I knew there was a band waiting, and they were now watching. They were still waiting. But people were like “more”. So I had this baby guitar, a ukulele. I was like ,”What y’all wanna hear? Edie Brickell?” And then I started trying to pretend I was playing noise on that and then got on the ground and played with finger puppets, a gold hand, my bra. I tried talking about how is anyone still mad about Jerry Maguire and how he clearly didn’t love her. And they love it and were letting me go. Afterwards they were like ,”I kind of want it to be all B roll”. The guy in charge was like ,” can I say something.” And I was like ,”Um, you may.” And he said ,”You’re really funny.” And I was like ,”Why do you sound like your mind exploded.” And he said ,” Well, your music doesn’t sound like that.” I’m not doing comedy music. I do comedy stuff as well. Nobody is one way. Do I have to wear black and be what Goth is? I think that’s why if I make a joke at a show there’s no laughter. (laughing) They don’t know what to think.
M: Art snobs can love your band but then you have your throw mayonnaise on the floor Twitter video.
Y: Oh! You’ve seen that? (Cracking up) “How To Get A Piece”?
M: Yeah. Good one.
Y: Wow! You did some reeeesearch. Well, I had advice to give so I gave it (cracking up). You know my dad was also at that show where I was doing that? At The Echo Plex. He was like in the corner eating BBQ. My life is really strange sometime. I think because there’s so many poseurs. So many frauds that are doing music..well, it’s actually subjective. But people try to sound just like another band and put on a front. And they keep the charade going. They’ve got an image so they stick to it. This happened when I met motherfucking…I should not even say this…
Y: I want to. I don’t know.
M: Devil. Angel. Devil. Angel.
Y: Oh my God. Lydia Lunch is a piece of shit. She’s an asshole. But it’s because she’s insecure. I’m sorry to use strong language. I don’t feel this way about people and I don’t talk this way about people. But she ha a character she has to maintain. I met her and was introduced in a way that made me seem a little Hollywood. But it was by someone who was excited about me and runs a magazine. It was ,”you’ve got to meet her. She’s doing this and this and this.” That’s not a way I ever want to be introduced to anyone. Especially someone I know is a certain way from interviews. So, I found her to be extremely cocky and I thought it was an act. Keep your image. “I’m tough”. So she was like ,”la dee da.”
M: Really dismissive?
Y: As she met me! Really? Woman who began your career as a groupie fucking everybody. Who the fuck? I mean, whatever. I don’t need you to understand me or judge me.
I don’t need to be associated with people like that. I mean, God Forbid she is a nice person I wont think she’s as tough as she was back then. Fans have said it to like they think I’m really nice. Did you think I’d be rude? Why is that the conception?
M: Any other preconceptions?
Y: You can look like you’re doing awesome and still be broke (laughing). But the times you are doing awesome is when you’re doing the dumbest fucking shit. Wow, for doing nothing and mostly being embarrassed and thinking it’s hilarious, I just made six thousand dollars. I sang the word “baby” five times in a row in my bikini top on a hot day. There’s stuff where it’s like…I love my stuff. I have a lot of nice stuff. Some of it’s gifts. Some of it is people giving it away. I’ll end up at the Bel-Air Hotel and have stuff constantly given to me. So I’m rocking Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses, which…that’s fine (laughing). I did not pay for that!
M: Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.
Y: Right now Im like ,”thank God I got in that car accident last year because here comes that check.” But, y’know, I work from home. I spent a yeah last year writing a script for VH1. I think they thought it was gonna be me and my friends like ,”Here’s me and my friends in L.A.” because this one girl had seen me at a party and thought I was funny. I used to write sketch before I came to L.A. So I started writing and I just went with it. We had this meeting and I had beyond a treatment. Episodes ready, final draft. It was everything that would weave through. I wrote ten months straight every single day. I felt like it got better. It was crazy and that was probably what made me believe more. My friends wanted ti be involved. You know when you have that approval from someone you respect? It’s a very strange idea to hear “This is genius.” I was hoping they’d say they liked it. So it encourages you. Even though I wasn’t getting paid and was living off money I luckily had saved, I kept working. It got darker and weirder and people were excited. Then it became too dark for VH1. And they didn’t want it. It was very intricate. So now I’m still working on it, deciding if I want it as a show or a film. There’s so many parts that each episode could be a film. So I started making shorts of them to try out what it would look like. I haven’t released any of it, obviously. And I wasn’t paid for anything but I’ve never felt more fulfilled.
M: It’s your Jodorowsky’s Dune.
Y: I had to want to do it. If I didn’t, no one was going to.
M: It’s a leaning process whatever happens.
Y: When I go out I would feel guilty. “You seem like you’re in daze lately.” And it was like ,”No, I’m trying to figure out how I’m gonna resolve this plot thing.”
M: Do you think it’s a shame they are re-booting Twin Peaks?
Y: (long pause) I think…one, that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard and two I think someone else is gonna buy it like Netflix. I don’t know that for sure but something that I’ve been working on with someone connected to that…I saw that and was like ,”So, uh…does anybody know how I could maybe get on, um, Twin Peaks?” (laughing) Any chance I get I’m like ,”Anybody got a Twin Peaks connection?”
M: Your music starts getting really fuckin’ spacey.
Y: Oh my God. But no! I want to be ON IT! I’ll draw a picture! I don’t know. Let me draw a picture for the background of a scene. So I texted the Vice President of Showtime when I found out and was like ,”What the fuck is this? What did you do.” And I haven’t heard from him since. They had a chance for such a good thing. I feel very strongly. I think a lot of people do. And there is no Twin Peaks without David Lynch. What are you making? WINGS? If you look at the ones Lynch directed as opposed to the ones he didn’t, just look at that! You knew when he was doing it. It’s so fucking stupid.
M: Why do people go for the path of least resistance and reboots and carbon performance?
Y: Even if we’re on the radio I still have to do what I do. Like the Purple thing. I didn’t know that was gonna be filmed. And didn’t want to do anything that day. See, again! Anytime I don’t want to do something it’s a big thing. I was like ,”Whatever. We’re just gonna be doing the same thing we’re doing.” I have to do what I do. It hits in a certain way that it brings it out. I dance where it is hitting me. If it doesn’t, I don’t.
M: I sent you a crazed Facebook message today about how I like how Axl Rose or Freddie Mercury had to like contort their bodies to pull the notes out at times. The prancing and crowing. And I wondered what some of your constraints are, how much is head or body?
Y: I had started playing with Adam from White Rainbow. We were playing a show and it was a show that meant a lot to me. A lot of people that’d been there from day one. I was super nervous because I hadn’t played live. I was playing with someone new. And he didn’t know how I performed. He’d never seen me perform. He was a little in shock (laughing). There’s a photo of him staring with his mouth open.
M: Yeah sometimes I’ll do a gig and people are like ,”I thought you were a nice person. What happened to you?”
M: Oh yeah. Bad news. Go on?
Y: Yeah, so I was doing the show and Adam was like ,” You don’t want to walk out together?” And I said “No”. It wasn’t a diva thing. I was like ,”Make me come out.” If I don’t feel it I’m not gonna come out. And there were moments when we’d be working on new stuff and I would be for instance in the bathroom and he’d be in the practice space and I’d start running from the bathroom to grab the mic, because I had to. A note would hit and I’d jump to my feet and slam on pedals, grab the microphone. I have to want. I want to be excited because I think If I am then that’s what I’m putting out. That’s real and your audience can feel. I’ve gotten so excited during shows that I’ve accidentally peed myself. I mean, a little. Not a lot. Excitement over a part. It really happens. SO he started playing and I heard a note that hit me and I ran. I’d been in the back jumping like a boxer. Waiting for it. Then I couldn’t help it. I want to not be able to help it. So it’s very much from where it is hitting me. Kind of around this show a lot of bad things had happened. A figuring out and moving forward with someone else, I suppose. And how people are gonna take that. You have to make decisions that free you of negative things. Not in your best interest. Ultimately harmful to your health. So, I wasn’t sure how it would be taken by an audience not familiar with this new version of this. I never think of the audience in the sense of if they dislike it, because if I like it that’s good. All I know is what I like. I’ll never be able to control them. It stops you from everything if you worry about that.
M: I was at a school play and thinking how kids memorize lines the other day. But if it always has to be perfect or one way, there will be no future freestyle rappers.
Y: That’s the harm in music school. You learn to be a certain way and have to unlearn. You want to rest on what’s correct. Go back to what you know. I’m more attracted to people learning their instruments, as you hear different things. I just tried learning the bass for the first time truly yesterday. It was crazy. I love the instrument but I wasn’t looking at a tutorial. That to me is where the heart of it is. If something sounds good to you. I was in the church choir in middle school. God, a lot’s coming out.
M: That’s why I was wondering about your breath control.
Y: Are you wondering about that?
M: Some stuff people learn from throwing themselves into a show Iggy Pop style but other stuff is like ,”breath from here. Have good posture.”
Y: Yeah, I have to do my stretches before I perform. If I’m able to up to thirty minutes. But I have to stretch before I start. Especially on a tour. I have to do vocal warm ups, which I learned through acting. In the sense that the vocal warm up is the breath, a “huh, huh”. If you don’t warm up your throat on a tour you wont have a voice the next day.
M: I was hoping you didn’t have to take steroids for your lungs, as I know people with heavy asthma.
Y: They were going to give me steroids because I was supposed to record on something Wednesday (Note: She had bad bronchitis during the time of interview). I know one show they gave me steroids and I would open my mouth and nothing came out. That was the worst time. With the lung collapses, I need a fan onstage. I don’t know if people know it is really not to just blow my hair around, though I love that. I need it when I’m jumping because I can’t breathe. I’ll be jumping trying to get it from my diaphragm. I’m moving so much I have to put my face in the fan and get immediate air if my breath gets short all of a sudden. My lung capacity, I shouldn’t be singing. Technically I’ve had five lung collapses. Never smoked. I was just like ,”tell me what I can do.” And I had to exercise to get my lungs back. There was one time I had to do a breathalizer on the beach because friends were drinking and we’d just gotten there. I couldn’t do it! “I’ve had lung collapses. I’m not trying to trick you.” And then I was able to give them just enough. I feel like I could sue, but I couldn’t do the breathalizer. I think it’s gotten better. But it’s not what it was.
M: Was it weird when you participated in the breast cast at project of the Keep-A-Breast.org campaign, that a fan could buy that? Your story was beautiful and I the artwork was deep. It got across, I mean…that’s your experience but it was like a window into it.
Y: Thank you for reading it and seeing it. That was one of my favorite things. That’s what music can do. We have a platform. We’re lost in fame and overnight success. So egocentric. You forget you can reach people. So to be asked to do that and write about it was a really big deal to me. How do I put it into words? So When they did the cast and pushed my chest down I couldn’t really breathe. And I was worried but it was painted and going to Japan. They don’t tell you who is gonna paint your cast. So when you saw that did you feel like the artist captured the story?
M: I assumed you painted it.
Y: Oh thanks! No, but it was the only one cut into. It’s got screws like it’s being held together. I wish I could take credit for it! But he didn’t know anything about me! SO when I saw the cast and saw them together I was like ,”Holy shit!” Like when the Universe feels in line and you’re on the right path. It was so true to what that was. Then it was sold. For like 1,400 Euros. So I’m like ,” Who the fuck has my boobs right now?”
M: Jimi Hendrix doesn’t care about his plater penis mold because he’s in heaven but you can still care about yours.
Y: Yeah, I wanna know about my penis mold too. I did one of those (just kidding).
M: I’m still trying to figure out if lesbians can like pocket pussies. I know dildos are ok but they are phallic. Tangent.
Y: Wait , what?
M: Y’know, like sad old dudes and frat boys use them as like a rubber pocket vagina. Lesbians wouldn’t like them because they aren’t practical or that nice, if they were against vibrators.
Y: (considering) That is really very funny. Too fucking funny.
Y: That’s something I don’t know if anyone has wondered.
M: Sorry, I’ve been wrestling with that.
Y: Have you? That’s your main thing? Most days you start off like ,”God?”
M: Yeah, it’s like “to be or not to be”, “strawberry or grape jelly” and that.
Y: And then you accidentally spread the jelly on it. Or everything
accidentally becomes a pussy.
M: Eventually. Yeah, like when you don’t melt butter and it is too firm and you rip a hole in the middle of the fucking cheap white bread. Nevermind. Jesus. Fired.
Y: Well, I pulled my ear piece out on that one accidentally.
M: Thanks for your time by the way.
Y: Oh yeah, I have plenty of time today. I was actually going on a rant to people of how I’m done with interviews, but then I sound like an asshole. Everyone asks the same dumbass questions. Like what genre. Then I just answer like a diva or a bitch. Cuz I’m a female, I think.
M: You need door number 3 which is like “Diva AND Bitch” (laughing).
Y: (laughing) So I started answering in a way like I don’t give a shit who thinks I’m being rude. Think about what you’re asking. I will give you a true answer but not a fucking answer about “How would you describe your music.” I wouldn’t. How would you describe your voice right now? Super annoying? (laugh)
Why would I describe it when I make it? How do I describe me? I’m really funny and I have a lot of pens. I collect them. This is not fuckin’ Tinder!
M: I liked on your Instagram you had a thing when Kim Fowley died. I thought it was really sweet what you said. Talking about someone who is known for not having a filter. Maybe it’s not always easy but people have to do a little of their own thinking.
Y: Yeah, I mean…someone had said something nasty to me about not celebrating a guy who says the word “cunt”.
M: Often not.
Y: But why were they shitting on a man who just died? Did they know him? Had they had a conversation? With no context you have no idea.
M: You just reminded me of something. I dated an Iranian girl years ago after 9/11 and she had dark skin. It was 2002. I couldn’t have her experience but I was aware on some level that maybe she was worried about the climate in the country at that time. People assuming they know your beliefs.
Y: I don’t look Persian, I think.
M: You can’t right away tell what your ethnic background is now.
Y: At that time, I was in Texas. It was bad. Very bad in Texas. I remember my Mom having a hard time. It was difficult because our family is a political family in Iran. I thought she was being paranoid about certain things. My grandfather was one of the supreme justices of the court of Iran and he wasn’t exiled or killed or imprisoned. The family didn’t have to leave because he was the only just justice. But he was under the Shah. But he didn’t take kickbacks, so he was poorer. That’s why people that come out here with insane amounts of money, a lot of it is from corruption. After the revolution he stayed. My mom left because she wanted to, y’know, wear short skirts. She saw David Bowie in Munich when he was Ziggy Stardust…by accident! She was a hot commodity.
(We go on a tangent and she goes back to find a text)
Y: Do you want me to read your question> (laughs)
Y: Do you still feel that there is a divide where people think of celebrities as experts or that they shouldn’t speak in a public forum? And…I think you meant the Voice but you said “The View”.
M: Oh God!
Y: I didn’t know Pharrell was on The View. (reading) Yeah, it’ true. I’m reading it and saying “Yeah, it’s true.”.
M: That’s Good. I believe the question was if people think they need approval from judges instead of finding their own intuitive way as artists.
Y: When I was little I wanted to be on Star Search.
M: American Bandstand?
Y: American Bandstand? That’s different. They weren’t a competition.
M: I forget. I get them confused. I liked the Gong Show.
Y: Brittany Spears was on Star Search and she was kind of good.
M: I remember Mickey Mouse Club.
Y: (voice gets quiet) I auditioned for that. Didn’t make the cut.
M: I call bullshit.
Y: You don’t believe that I did?
M: No! I mean they should’ve seen your potential! Disney bought Miramax. They should’ve seen your edge. (laughing)
Y: Well, I was under prepared and …VERY confident. (laughing) I did realize that a lot of the girls had their routines already set in stone and mine was more a lot of improv. So I left the ice skating rink with my cheetah pants on. My stretch hot pink cheetah pants.
M: See, that shit’s hot now.
Y: Hot now? Where are you? Canada?
Y: Like, OMG. At the Roxy. It’s hot there. I was ahead of the Roxy. I paired it with the obvious. A tourqoise…sweatshirt (cracking up). A couple scrunchies. Whatever. I did a routine to “Vogue”. There were a lot of unimpressive blondes and I looked like an alien. Too dark for Disney. I mean, not the outfit. It was too bright. SO yeah, I wasn’t on that show. But yeah, my mom tried to get me on American Idol. Everyone around me. I was really against it. She was like “Why do you have to do things a certain way?” She would not let it go. Now my parents watch shows like that and get angry. They are glad I don’t do that shit. I do think it causes people to not pursue their own thing. If you have a limited frame of reference and that’s what you know, you haven’t been exposed to anything else…it’s like Bjork would still be weird for these people. Not as much appreciation. People like what they know.
When I was 12 I did a routine to “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush.
M: Not D’angelo? Oh wait…
Y: You mean fuckin’ Maxwell!?
M: Yeah. So good.
Both: It makes me cry.
Y: Don’t say that!
M: It has.
Y: Right now as I thought about it, I got goosebumps.
M: Yeah, I’m like…holding very still. (cracks up)
Y: I showed it to Lee, the singer of Trash Talk. He was over and we were going back and forth and I was like ,”You gotta listen to this song.” We’d been listening to rap. He was like ,”What are you gonna play me, c’mon?” You know Trash Talk, right?
Y: So it started and we were both totally quiet. And it ended and you could like feel him holding in emotion. My eyes were filled with tears. I was trying not to look at him. It was such an amazing moment to have the full respect of his performance. So it stopped and I was like ,”You wanna listen one more time” and it was cool. And then he goes ,” So basically, Frank Ocean’s a bitch?” It was hilarious. But it wasn’t even a joke. I don’t even think I laughed. It was like “,this is some real shit.” He tweeted about it and was like “Maxwell is the truth” or something at 5 am and his MOM tweeted back and was like ,”that’s right.” He was like ,”what the hell?!!”
M: (laughing) She’s like ,”That’s how you were made, honey.”
Y: But yeah I was young and couldn’t listen to the rest of the Kate Bush tape The Sensual World that I had because I was scared. I didn’t understand it. I was a kid. It’s not even the really out there levels she goes to. It was like ,”that’s the devil.” It was during that whole “devil scare”. Everything you didn’t know was the devil.
M: Dungeons and Dragons. Alf. Yeah.
Y: Occult. Satanic Rituals. It was the scare tactic of the 90’s. SO to understand Kate Bush later , at the time I just liked that song. I just heard it and knew I had to do a figure skating routine to it. Then I had a “cool” boyfriend and he played guitar and I heard the Pixies. It was not in my world. I was on the debate team. I was the president of the drama club. I was in everything, Rushmore. My parents made me watch the movie. “He’s just like you but he doesn’t do well in school.” I would do well but because of that the teachers loved me. So my papers would have an amazing first and last page but the middle would be like “I had a hot dog and then I was looking around.” All bullshit for like 6 pages. And the teacher would be scolding the class and holding up my paper like ,”You want to know how to do a paper?” Literally they must’ve not read them. I wrote in one about hot dogs! So then I would just get good grades because I was such a good student at first. I did good presentations. I’d dress in superhero costumes and have a video. I made crazy productions. Instead of a presentation it’d be a play. But yeah, I’ve heard so many of my friends say they weren’t a good singer or guitar player. But their pitch is perfect. It’s interesting you can be affected by those things.
M: I think of BB King dying or people who didn’t have the option of self critique. They had to keep going and it changed everything.
Y: Exactly. Even some people have written to me about starting to play around and it’s “not that good”. I don’t always listen but one guy had no training and I told him that was even better. That’s what I like about now. You can talk right to fans.
M: Yeah, or I’ve met bands from fucking Nepal. My friend from Dying Out Flame, this death metal band, is like telling me about the earthquakes.
Y: It’s crazy. You really can randomly talk to your hero or ask someone to hear your music. So I listened to this guy’s music and it was like ,”what part of this is bad?” Just keep making stuff. Don’t get into that paralyzing mindset. It can be because of who you’re around. Or maybe you don’t have the right gear. I don’t have the gear to show off. I like to play all these things. And that’s a turn off to. People think they don’t have what they need. If you talk to a snobby gear asshole, it’s a weird world of condescension. “Oh, you just make music on the computer.” It’s who you surround yourself with. People are afraid if it doesn’t sound like anything. That’s what you want! Awesome! Fuck yeah! You did it.
M: What direction are you moving into?
Y: I used to come in with pages and pages. All of the first EP was about how much I hated my bandmate. He was very mean to me. He didn’t know that. I don’t know if he fully knows that. The band had just started. We didn’t even have songs and he wouldn’t even say hello. It was kind of the thing where like for two weeks there was a romantic possibility and I realized that was not what I wanted. And that was not ok, apparently.
M: You felt like you still had to work together?
Y: I felt like longevity wise I really liked what we were doing. We’d just started the band and met and I realized we are very different people. He became super super mean and I would have to speak to him through songs. That’s how I would tell him stuff. Headless was the first one where I actually put my notebook down and it was things I had just said to him moments before that when he had done something really fucked up. And like, I had just like…I had said it to him but it was more like I was saying it to myself as he wasn’t responding. And we’d try to out practice each other for like 9 hours until one of us had to stop. It was a really bad feeling. Not all, but there was significant material about how I was being treated.
M: “Closest” versus “End Flux” for example, the first feels more methodical while the other seems more spontaneous, maybe.
Y: “End Flux” I had just found out about the Futurist Manifesto. It lists noises and I turned it into this song. A list of sounds. It talks about what the manifesto is and then there’s a list of sounds. So it was like me reading. And then I started actually doing the noises and that became the song. Going with why Tearist was based on movements. This path of moving forward. Instead of writing those words I would do those words. And “Closest” was actually what was going on. What was happening.
M: That makes sense as one was like a primal release.
Y: It was. At the end I’m always doing a million things. It’s never the same. But “Closest” was made and I was asked to do a performance piece and I brought my bed into this place. Writing and tearing these pages up. We stopped playing it actually. I’d get emotional sometimes. I kind of didn’t want to play it so much.
M: Just kind of respect it.
Y: I’m not far enough away from how I felt. It brings back …I always remember what I’m talking about. But it changed. It all evolves. And that song evolved and meant something else and getting over and past things. But like a memory of depression, sometimes when you’re far enough away you can deal with it but if not you feel yourself slipping back into it. Know what I’m saying.
M: Yeah, I do. I’m fucking manic depressive (laughing/lights joint). It’s good to be able to know and have a barometer for where you are at with feelings.
Y: I’ve done it after that where I’d start it a cappella and then it would go into another song. And that felt good, being able to do that since it felt so vulnerable. And you don’t expect it to get really intense and fast after that. The song “Civilization” is important to me. As is “Closest”. I can’t even listen to it. Because I’m already giving everything to the audience. The things I can’t give (voice choked up with emotion)…I sing in Farsi. That one is too honest sometimes. Like I can’t escape anything. I don’t throw effects on anything. It’s really naked and I already feel very naked. With the movements and everything about it…I have to be in a certain space. But, yeah…Thanks, for asking.
M: If you’re energy sensitive, it might be hard to always go to those places.
Y: It isn’t like I’m remembering the exact moment but like (crying) it’s all the same, it’s all the same. Have I gotten past that? How do I feel this again? Sorry. You write these things and they evolve and they change. That can make you feel good because you’re past it or perspective has changed. It’s seen as a triumph over a huge hurdle or a thing that happened. You can remember your evolution because you’re not there. Singing or writing about it got you out. Pulled you back. You can see it from the outside looking in, but with that one it’s like continually it happens. Something I continually do. It’s not even like a reminder. Like, wow. Back here again. Is this gonna stop. I don’t know if that’s making sense.
M: Does it make you feel cut off from the growth that’s happened and hurts to step back in?
Y: No, it makes me feel like I haven’t grown. I’ve made strides and past that moment of that one and why I wrote it. But again and again it’s what I did again. How did I not learn? All these things until…God, I’m having a hard time…I’m not sure how to…I just don’t know how to even talk about it. I don’t wanna think I’m just doing the same thing over and over again to people or in my relationships and it’s me and my fault. It’s not always like that, but I can think of how many times it’d happened after that and it doesn’t feel good. And it’s not always like that. I go through stages of it. I don’t even want to blame it on my period because I’m not sure it’s coming right now. It’s very irregular.
M: Don’t write it off.
Y: I hadn’t thought about why and I just…I couldn’t do it. “I can’t do that one today.” It was too heavy for me. Ok, I’m gonna chill out. Oh God, I’m so sorry.
M: No, I relate. Not like I know your experience but you have songs that you realize years later you’re still working out something in it. Or I have songs from before I quit dope in 1998 and I’ll hear some part of this vulnerable, scared kid in there, even if I’ve changed a lot. It can rip stuff open. Or I wrote some songs years ago where I was really pining someone and now I can like learn from it and accept it. But sometimes you say it and release it in the material and don’t play it as often.
Y: Yeah. I think until that wound or whatever…until I feel it’s healed…I want to give the audience everything, but I can’t fully give to a place where I am gonna have a hard time coming back the next day or the next day. If the show started off that way I’d have a hard time recovering, which would add an element but…sometimes I would get off stage and cry and cry and cry. That’s great, but I don’t want to always. I don’t want to cry in front of the audience. “Here are my emotions.” Yes , here they are but I’m not trying to force them on you. Or go back to a negative way of thinking or patterns that are unhealthy. And dwelling on them again. For some reason that song makes me question ,”Am I over that? Am I doing that still? Is that what’s going on?” It’s such a…whatever, God. (sigh) It depends on what’s happening in my life. Sometimes it was fun to play that song because I got a little bit of a rest, but if I was feeling solid. I go through phases. Up and down my whole life. If I can prevent that, I dunno…fuck. My mom loves hearing that song. And she knows and is like ,”Can you not listen to it right now”? So, she knows. I would practice alone to myself and started singing that and crying. I’m crying again now (sniffle). It hurts my chest. I mean, it’s weird. Or not. Maybe it’s weird to qualify it.
M: It doesn’t seem like it, but when you create new stuff does that make you want to take it easier on yourself?
Y: Man, there’s so much unreleased right now.
M: Give me!
Y: Even videos.
M: You’re evil.
Y: I’m evil?! The fucking music industry is evil.
M: Yeah, it’s a big black pit of horseshit. Haha.
Y: I’m maybe gonna take it into my hands and put everything out myself. I have a good lawyer.
M: That’s fantastic. I’m happy for you.
Y: About the lawyer?
M: Yeah! That shit’s important , yo!
Y: Yeah, he’s my friend and he does it for free. And my cousin by marriage is Snoop Dogg’s lawyer.
M: Oh shit.
Y: It’s hilarious. Sometimes he has to go on tour with him because he gets into trouble, like, daily. But, oh…there have been some songs that were possibly for Apple or something commercial where Dave Sitek was like “dumb it down. Fewer words.” But some of those are super great. I’m still using those lyrics now and trying to place them in songs. I love pop music and if someone is singing it later, that’s fucking great. But there’s stuff where I had to go in the other room and someone is laying down stuff and I got super bummed. I was trying to use all these lyrics from books and I couldn’t find it. Then I was able to find what I wanted to say and it was simply what I was feeling. What was looming in my head that I need to get out. I have to stop thinking and actually just hear myself. Everything. All these thoughts not even about the actual song and what you’re going to say. Not wanting to ruin the song. Sitting with your actual feelings. Not that I have to be super bummed. But I would go and sit in front of a mirror and say ,”Oh, now I know what this is.” And then you run back into the room and say ,”I’ve got it.”
(The interview wraps up and Yasmine says ,”Ok. I’m gonna go make music with my dog now”)