Of Turkish-Irish-Bajan heritage but a Londoner in her heart, Nilüfer Yanya stunned listeners when she released her debut album Miss Universe – which traversed trip hop, soul, rock and jazz styles – earlier this year. Piles of rave reviews (here’s ours!) and a triple j feature album slot later, she’s bringing her live show to Australia this month. We asked her about the journey.
While recording Miss Universe, were you forming in your mind how you’d play songs live?
Yeah I would say there was a bit of both. I worked on some of the songs with the musicians in my band, so we did think about how it would translate live on some of them. However with other songs which were a bit more of an experiment in general, I tried not to think about it at all! As it would set limits.
Your sister Molly Daniel [who co-created live visuals with Nilüfer] has said that being excited by the process over the outcome helps her to be more childlike in creating her art. Do you feel the same way about music?
For sure. I don’t actually think I’ve been able to write in a detached way. Or to be able to write anything I think is any good. It’s a different kind of thinking; you can’t always be aware of it at the time.
During your recent NPR Tiny Desk concert your synth player Jazzi Bobbi also grabbed her sax, and your bassist Lucy Lu jumped up to sit behind keys. What do you think having multi- instrumentalists in your band does for the live experience?
Less is more. I feel like with the material I’ve written so far it just wouldn’t make sense to have more musicians on stage, as much as it would also be fun and possibly a good experiment… it’s not really an experiment I can afford right now.
How much time do you put into planning setlists, and creating an arc for the show?
I try to go with a sort of build; I guess the second half of my set at the moment is a lot thrash-ier, and that’s when I feel a lot more absorbed by the performance. I’ve done it like this because I like saving my favourite songs till the end, and I will probably do them most justice towards the end of the show.
Can you tell us anything about Phase 2 of WWAY Health?
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Miss Universe by Nilüfer Yanya is out now.
Nilüfer Yanya is playing Melbourne on Wednesday, and Brisbane on Friday this week. Head here for ticketing details.