Yassassin are one of the hardest working new acts around. The quintet, based in London, are yet to give up the day jobs, but have already found time to hit the road with Pins, and share stages with the likes of Primal Scream at European festivals. Taking their moniker from a song by David Bowie, everything they do embodies a swaggering vintage quality, and an inclusive, DIY ethos is core to the Yassassin experience. Between them Anna, Moa, Jo, Ruth, and Raissa work not only in music but video, fashion, publishing, graphic design and more, and with backgrounds spanning five countries, each members brings their own creative flare to the group.
YOU ALL COME FROM SUCH FARAWAY PLACES. HOW DID YOU COME TO BE IN A POSITION WHERE YOU COULD FORM THE GROUP?
M: We were all good friends in London and we knew we all played, so one day we said “let’s just book the studio and get together”. That’s when we wrote Social Politics which was our first single.
IS IT DIFFICULT BEING IN A BAND WHILST HAVING ‘REAL’ JOBS?
RP: It is tough. I work for a publishing company, which is great, but it’s obviously really busy and I’m starting to have problems trying to keep it cool with them and give the most I can to the band. London is expensive so we can’t do this full time. We would like to but… £600 on rent is standard, it’s not easy to cover. You need to give 100% to both and hopefully we’re going to get busier. We want more, we want to be busy.
YOUR MUSIC IS VERY ECLECTIC. WHAT ARE YOUR MUSICAL BACKGROUNDS?
A: We’ve all had very different upbringings. I didn’t start listening to ‘rock’ music until I was in my late teenage years. I was more classically schooled, I played piano and listened to Stevie Wonder.
M: We’re all limitless in a way. We’re all just interested in what else there is, what else we can create? What can we make from all our different backgrounds and influences? There isn’t a specific band or sound that we want to sound like, we want to do something new and embrace that we all have different backgrounds and interests in music.
RP: London is great for that. You go to a party, someone plays a tune and you’re like “what is that?” And find out the next day oh, that was post-punk. I’m into post-punk this week. It’s nice to have the freedom to go to an acid-house party and get fucked or go to the Barbican and see an amazing play with an orchestra. Like, why do I have to limit myself to one? You’re fully involved with everything you put out as a band – the artwork, the videos, the style. Why is that?
J: For us it just comes super naturally. We are all super creative beings, it would be weird just to have one part of it.
RP: Even with someone else helping us we always give the direction and it’s always our voice that comes first. Everything that is out there has to be us – we don’t want to compromise. If anyone tries to change our direction… we’ll poison them.
TELL US ABOUT ‘CHERRY PIE’, YOUR LATEST SINGLE.
A: The lyrics are very lusty, it’s about obsessing over a love interest. The video took a bit of a different twist. We made it more into a story with us all acting. A lot of dark stuff happens.
YOU WON SOME FUNDING FROM PRS EARLIER THIS YEAR. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
RP: It was presented in Brighton at The Great Escape. It’s in collaboration with Key Production which is a vinyl printing company in London who have worked with a lot of big artists. They were offering 500 12” records to four bands, and we’re one of them! We’d already recorded everything and were just about to press it when it happened, so we didn’t need to. It’s a big help financially, in terms of the money invested.
DO YOU FEEL NOW LIKE THERE IS PRESSURE TO SUCCEED?
A: I don’t worry about it too much. All these amazing things seem to be happening to us, like we just played a big festival in France, sharing stages with some of my idols… if two years ago someone told me this would happen I would have been like “yeah, you’re joking”. We just go with the flow. Maybe there is pressure there but we try not to focus on it.
RP: We know that some bands are more lucky than others, so we appreciate that maybe we’ve been in the right place at the right time. We are lucky and we’ve got good management behind us and we work hard as well.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE BAND?
M: We want to be able to create music that… if it could reach out to loads of people and affect their hearts that would be so amazing, you know? If we could be an influence on other people’s lives in a positive way then that’s the dream.
RP: I think we all agree that we’d just like to be in a band 24/7, because it makes us happy. As long as I pay my rent I’m happy. I don’t need anything else.
Vitamin Y EP is out now.
Photo Poppy Marriott