Nilüfer Yanya's Quiet Roar
I was initially struck by the video for “Baby Luv” because it was so well done. There were so many different locations and shots. Could you tell me a bit about how the visual accompanies the song?
A little bit was taken from the ideas I had in my head when I was writing the song, like the casino. Then we wanted somewhere relaxing, and it wasn’t going to be me at first—we were going to have a lot of extras. But I wanted that idea of leisure and pain together. That’s why we chose the pool, and we were shooting in such a beautiful location so we ended up using a lot of the nature around us as well.
The red car is super cool.
Yeah, that was totally random as well! We just came into this estate, and there was this car. The guy outside was like, “Do you like the car? It’s my friend’s car, do you want to sit in it?” And he let us get in the car with him.
The video was directed by your sister, correct?
Yeah, that’s right.
You’re playing your first ever US show tomorrow. What are your feelings going into it?
It’s quite surreal, really—when you don’t know a place that well and you’re playing a show there. I’m also worried I’m still going to be ill.
Would you say you feel more comfortable on stage with your guitar?
When did you first learn guitar?
I was 12.
I’ve been finding lately that people are attracted to artists who are more low key, as opposed to a few years ago when artists were super exuberant and out there. Do you think about the way you present yourself, or is it more organic?
It’s definitely organic. But if you’re making a video, you obviously think about it. But there’s only so much that you can think about. When you’re making a video and then you’re doing other things, it’s not like your appearance comes last, but what you’re going to do with your hair or clothes doesn’t come first. It’s organic in the sense that it’s important for me, but it’s obviously not the most important thing, which is why it comes off as less stylized. I love fashion and clothes, but the music is the most important thing.
Have you been doing more stylized shoots lately?
Yeah. It’s just nice to work with people who can take care of that side of things. I don’t want to get to the point to where I worry about it or even think about it. Takes up too much space in your head.
They can think about it for you.
Your songwriting process, at least from what I hear, is very organic and stream of consciousness. Is this true?
For some songs, yeah. “Baby Luv” was definitely like that.
When do you know that a song is “done”?
I guess when you’re happy with it. If you’re not sure if it’s done, it’s probably not done.
Tell me a little bit about Artists In Transit. Why is it important to you to do this in conjunction with your music?
It’s not necessarily supposed to be in conjunction with the music, it’s separate. I think it’s all about trying to do what you think is right as a person, more than anything else. And trying to help people in any way you can.
We really need that right now. Is it active currently?
Yeah. We need to hold a proper event in London to help fundraise for the next trip. We want to exhibit the artwork of the people we’ve been working with. We’ve got lots of photos taken by people in Athens. We’d like to have an exhibition and then plan the next trip, which will be next year.
And you do this with your sister?
Yeah, it was her idea. She started it over a year ago. And then my mom and her friends came, and we got everyone involved.
Do you set goals for yourself?
No, but I did set a goal for myself yesterday. I can’t remember what I said I would do… [Laughter]
What about long term goals?
Not really, but I think I have a vague idea of my goals. Then the closer you get, the more you understand what’s realistic and what’s not. It’s hard to set a goal because that means you know what’s going to happen next.
And it seems like everything is happening so fast for you.
Yeah, it’s hard to tell. All the things you didn’t think could be possible do happen, and all the things you thought would be possible, they’re still impossible.
So your idea of a “goal” is changing.
Yeah! And of the world, and reality.
Have you started working on your debut album?
Yeah, I’ve started writing for it and am gonna start recording it next year.
Is there any pressure?
Well, I want to make sure it’s out by 2019. I don’t want it to be any later.
Is the music going to be similar to what we’ve heard?
Hopefully different, but still carrying on what I’ve done. I think it’s going to get a bit heavier, I don’t want to say louder, but… yeah. We’ll see.