IN CONVERSATION WITH: Yassassin

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER        PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

London’s own, having arrived from different points of the globe, Yassassin are a force to be reckoned with in their own right. The women of the moment with a stand-out name that catches the attention of any avid listener, the five-piece present a strong image but don’t want to be slotted into the typical “girl-band” slot.

We last caught the group at The White Hotel as part of Interior Presents‘ All-Dayer with outfits that conjur up that Vivienne Westwood/punk-era and an electric, raw sound – they’re image does all but leave your mind. So of naturally we jumped at the chance for a chat about where they’re headed. This year Yassassin were requested to tour with The Strokes legend Albert Hammond Jr, across his selection of UK shows which climaxed in a reputable Paris performance – quite the opportunity for a band that “grew up listening to The Strokes“.

Lucky enough to have been in the same circles in London, the group – which consists of Anna, Joanna, Moa, Nathalia and Stephanie – met in 2016 and with a couple of lineup changes along the way have become the fully-formed Yassassin. Their name obviously follows suit after the classic David Bowie song but are they nostalgic mega-fans of the Starman or is there another reason for the name choice? “Well it (the day of the name choice) happened to be the day that Bowie died and Yassassin means ‘Long Live’ so it worked” mention the group with a clear admiration for such an iconic transcendent musician.

Each step they take together is a completely natural, organic process that combines each member of the band, from drums to bass. As is with their brooding new track ‘Wreckless’: “Moa wrote the verse and I wrote the chorus, we lived together so we put them together and took it to the band” says Anna whilst Stephanie mentions that they generally demo tracks by themselves then bring them to practice and “slot each part into place”.

Recently, the group were involved in a project with the teams at Flying Vinyl and Girls Against to produce a compilation record of female artists, featuring the likes of Courtney Barnett, Dream Wife and Hinds. For starters, Yassassin highlight that of course – there shouldn’t be a need for these groups that raise awareness of sexual harassment/assault at gigs and within the music community. “Any message like that, we’re always onboard with. We’re fortunate enough that in what we do, it gets a message across in a creative way.” A strong sense of sexuality and equality are gladly a main theme for works by Yassassin.

“Our sound is constantly progressing, it’s constantly changing” mentions Mao of their inherent lifeline that they aspire to be ‘ungenre-able’. “We’re always experimenting with new things so it’s different, we don’t want to be tied down to an specific genre. But like any act there are stereotypes and genres thrust upon the group by way of they-sound-like tit-bits inputted by their fans: “people say we’re alternative, post-punk, riot grrl, girl band – all these labels.” As a band, their ideology and ethos is that Yassassin are Yassassin – no labels.

When asked to support Albert Hammond Jr, Yassassin were already set to head out on their own tour under their own moniker but due to financial reasons, the band couldn’t do both. But never fear, we’re assured that the dream team aren’t disappearing any time soon and have upcoming dates at Sŵn Festival, Dials FestivalSimple Things Festival and a slot at 2019’s Rockaway Beach Festival.

The group touch on their aspirations, to be able to financially sustain themselves in the creative industry. “It’s impossible in London, everybody’s got to work and it’s draining when you want to say, write some music” – as we’re speaking the group start to laugh as Natahlia points out that in the background, in the midst of his Manchester Academy sound-check, Albert Hammond Jr is trialling his hit record ‘It’s Hard To Live In The City’ – how fitting. With their strength and unity behind them it’s achievable for them to get where they want to be and we back them every step of the way.

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