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Interview with Emre from Years & Years

By Olivia Shortall

Synth pop sound group Years and Years have had a remarkable year. After being nominated for three BRIT awards, the threesome have certainly made their mark in the music industry.

We spoke to Emre – the keyboardist about the group’s upcoming tour, how they all met as well as his advice to any young aspiring musicians.

Let’s talk about your upcoming tour. How’s that going for you, are you excited for it?

Yeah we’re very excited – it’s not started yet so we’ve just had 3 weeks off; it’s been kind of weird. By the end of the first week we were all ringing each other going like what do we do?

It must’ve been nice to have a break after your hectic year.

We were certainly knackered by the end of it because we hadn’t basically stopped since mid-2014. Now it’s all kicking off again and we can’t really wait, it’s gonna be great because this time it’s gonna be slightly bigger venues and we’re gonna end up playing at Wembley arena. It’s going to be insane.

Have you guys ever played in Bournemouth before?

No we’ve never played in Bournemouth but I used to have a math teacher from Bournemouth I hated him. Hopefully you’ll change my perception of it.

So are you excited then to play in Bournemouth for your first time?

Yeah! To be honest, the best part of touring is when we play somewhere that we’ve never played before just because it feels new and exciting.

I would like to say congratulations on your four BRIT award nominations – managing to get the same amount of nominations as Adele!

Yeah, it’s amazing. I tell you what, if we’ve even got a quarter of those wins by the end of the night then we’ll be really happy.

Let’s move onto your album ‘Communion’. Why is it called ‘Communion’?

It’s not called ‘Communion’ for any sort of religious reasons but it is called that for a couple of reasons: one - phonetically we just loved the word. Obviously we were looking for a name for the album, we kept saying stuff and no one was terribly sure and then we heard the word ‘Communion’ and I really liked it because I love the sound of it.

Also, we thought it was quite fitting because the meaning of the word. Bizarrely a lot of the titles of the songs in the album have weird sort of religious connotations but none of us are religious- it sort of fits the mood of the album – people coming together. A lot of the album is about love and relationships and also playing live, it always feels like a communion between us and the fans.

From your album, what’s your favourite song that you like to play?

My favourite song I like to play is probably ‘Ties’ just because it’s quite epic and I play an arpeggio bassline and I keep using the tom drums. It’s a ‘big’ song – it feels the room and gets everyone going.

How long have you been playing the keyboard for?

It’s funny because I don’t actually know how to play the keyboard, I just sort of do it. I’ve never been taught music, I don’t have any sort of training or anything. I used to play the guitar but I just got so bored of the guitar a few years ago so I started making electronic music which usually uses keyboards. I sort of just fumble around and play stuff that sounds good – I don’t generally know what I’m doing. Mikey has tried to teach me some scales but life’s too short for scales.

What does year hold for you guys?

This year is basically going to be us travelling the globe and meeting new people and then towards the end of the year, we’ll start making great new music. We’ll be touring the UK, Europe, the U.S a couple of times. We’re going to Japan in a week.

So do you have quite a big fan base in Japan? Have you played there before?

I have no idea if anyone knows who we are there! We’ve played there once before but that was a few years ago when we were signed to a small French label at the time and we played a club night but we haven’t been since. I loved Tokyo when we were there so I think we’re going to take a couple of days off and see the sights.

What advice would you give to any aspiring young musicians out there?

I don’t feel like I’m qualified to answer that. I think the best thing to do is find people you enjoy making music with and spending time with. It’s easy to know who they are when you meet them because you’ll talk about this band or this singer for hours and you won’t get bored because you’re going to spend a lot of time together.

It’s really cool to be in a band because if you try to make music all on your lonesome it’s not as fun – music should be a shared experience. Don’t worry about getting things right because you’ll be pretty rubbish for a long time.

So you’ve shared music should be a ‘shared experience’ so how did Years and Years form?

I met Mikey first – we actually met online on a musicians’ forum website. I had got bored of making music on my own with guitars and things so I met Mikey and we started making music together. Then Mikey met Olly at a mutual friend’s house party and Olly said he heard we had a band and wanted to join and Mikey was like ‘not really’. But luckily, Mikey got so drunk that he passed out on the sofa and woke up in the morning and Olly was having a shower, singing. He thought ‘Ooo he sounds nice’ so he told Olly that he was going to meet me for a jam that day so he should come along. The three of us met in Mikey’s house and we just sort of wrote a song which sounded cool so we kept going.

Do you have any plans for the kind of music you’re going to be making together later on this year?

There aren’t too many songs on ‘Communion’ that sound like each other so I guess the new album will also be different. I can probably safely say it will be pop and electronic and synth sounding but other than that I don’t know. I’ve been playing the guitar again so maybe there will be some guitars on the album but it will probably be something different.

In the music industry at the moment, what’s your favourite artist at the moment?

Last year I listened to Caribou non-stop so he’s probably the person I look up to the most – he’s a synth wizard. When he plays live, he has his band and they’re amazing. We saw Kendrick Lamar who was also amazing last year.

Years and Years will be playing in Bournemouth on the 4th April at the BIC.