Words by Emily Blackburn.
In the lead up to the release of her debut EP, alt-pop singer-songwriter Yorke sets herself up for the day with a cup of coffee, cosy in her parents house in Byron Bay.
“There’s not too many people around” reflecting on how she’s making the most of being in her hometown and finding less populated places to “get some fresh air” during this trying time for musicians around the globe.
From where it all began in 2018 with her break-through single ‘First Light’ to supporting British pop legend Lewis Capaldi on tour in 2019; Yorke has sailed through shows with Ruel and her own sold-out ‘Thought I Could’ tour. At 21-years of age she goes from strength to strength, and her debut EP Liberosis encapsulates the emotions and feelings she’s experienced throughout a wild ride of growth and self understanding.
Containing songs spanning a three year period and finding the ones to define the release felt hard.
“It was liking picking children” she laughs, “they told the story I think, in the best way, I think it’s quite cohesive the way they all come together. So I’m really happy with the songs that we chose, I think they all stand in their own sort of space, but they all fit in the theme as well.”
One first listen to opening track ‘Promise’ exudes deep emotion surrounding commitment and desperate love “I made a promise to your sister / Swore to myself I’d never leave ya” all tied in a haunting soundscape of thunder crashes and stabbing synths that feels so raw and personal, yet it’s conception was based off cult-classic film, Titanic.
“Xavier (Dunn) and I, we were sort of talking about how he had this instrumental and I was like “Oh, it sounds like something out of a movie, like the Titanic or something” and he’s like ‘Oh lets put on the trailer and mute the sound and play the instrumental.’”
After realising it fit quite well, she researched the plot line intensely and decided to write a piece from the perspective of the typically antagonised Caledon Hockley, something viewers don’t often take into consideration in amongst the romance of Jack and Rose.
“I’ve since watched the movie and it [the song] makes a lot of sense.”
Despite the creative turnout from this process, she laughs over doing it again, “I don’t know if I’ll do it very often, but it was fun, it was great.” As she prefers to write from a personal stand point to strengthen the relatability of her sound.
“Obviously these songs are personal to me but, I definitely think a big part of the Yorke image is songs that people can relate to in general.”
Which can truly be said out of single ‘Treading Water’, “the lyrics “I’m treading water but I’m still alive” are probably one of my favourites on the whole EP”.
The song in itself stands very strong within the current situation of the music industry. ‘Treading Water’ navigates the feeling of standing strong in the path you’ve chosen “I had to teach myself this shit” even if people cast doubt upon you.
“No one predicted what is happening at the moment” referencing the current global pandemic, “but if music can translate and be something that people can listen to and relate to in this time then I think thats really cool.”
Speaking of the current situation, talking a little about how the live music world is changing, Yorke talks about her feelings toward the online gig streaming world. “I think I just word vomited the majority of it” she reflects on her first Instagram live experience just this week, “I’ve got another one tonight (Thursday), and now I’m already stressing about it. Why do I put myself in this position? I don’t know.”
And how is she keeping occupied during this period of uncertainty?
“I’ve set up a little make-shift studio, and I have no idea how to produce, but that will hopefully change. I’m going to teach myself some things and just use this as a time to hone my skills and keep writing. I’ve got some big online sessions that I’m doing and hopefully just keeping on.”
“It’s definitely something we’re all having to get used to because we don’t really have a choice” having watched triple j’s Good Nights presenter Bridget Hustwaite’s Saturday Night Stay In and some of Nic Kelly’s Isolation Hour Yorke wonders whether streaming concerts will become an industry staple.
“It’ll be interesting to see when this is all over whether no one ever wants to live stream again, or whether it’ll just be common place?”
Live streams have been able to give artists a direct way to interact with fans which they share their music. Despite finding it “pretty stressful” Yorke understands it something that has to be done these days to “keep people engaged”.
“Tonight (Thursday) we’re doing a kind of isolation launch party for the EP, and I’m getting all the collaborators to come join me and talk about their individual songs and how we made them. I think at the end of that theres a Q&A, so hopefully that’ll give a chance to chat with some people and see what they’re feeling which will be good.”
But when it all returns to what hopefully is someday normal, Yorke is excited to implement her EP’s themes into a revived live show.
“The theme of the EP is Liberosis, or like an ache for liberation, and to let things go. To be able to figure out how to translate that into a live show is definitely something that I really want to do, so people can like take a moment, and just focus on nothing else. I think the songs are quite big and cinematic, so I think thats a good start.”