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yassassin

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.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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Yassassin

Review: The White Hotel presents: An All Day Ordeal

The raves and parties our city has seen are long thought to have died out. With Sankeys sticky dance-floors having moved to Ibiza and the Haçienda now a modern block of apartments, just a stone’s throw away from Deansgate Locks – it’d be easy to think that perhaps we’ve met our match. Perhaps Manchester’s history of psychedelic, never-ending parties is over? This isn’t true. Although we have a different Manchester scene now, we have one all the same. What we have now might not be the classics of the past but instead we have made way for: Canal Street’s endless frivolity; Northern Quarter’s hidden discos; boisterous student hub spots; Warehouse Project; Hidden; Victoria Warehouse; The White Hotel. The latter is one of our newest warehouse venues and home to a building fame for secret sets and underground artist showcases, brought to us by the latest in a new breed of promoter. These new support units – such as Now Wave and Hey! Manchester – aim to open Manchester up once more as the hub of the North for musical talent. Amongst these is Interior which, having worked together with The White Hotel, presented the first TWH festival: An All Day Ordeal.

There were whispers of a secret set from ‘special guests’ as well as a list of the latest emerging and unmissable acts including Leeds-based Autobahn who brought a Joy Division-esque Gothic twist of punk to their early morning (2am) set when feet and heads were loosened from the evening’s activities. Preludes to them were USA Nails with a heightened and provoking punk rock set, the essence of which felt expertly un-planned but resulted in a hauntingly brilliant 1am set to push those who dwindled after the excitement of our special guests. As for the special guests themselves, none other than one of post-punks most known current contenders were announced on the day of the event: Cabbage. With the atmosphere building up to the midnight set, there were high hopes for the main event. Any dash of doubt was soon wavered as, without drummer nor bassist, Cabbage were still the show-stopping act that they are known to be and as soon as word got out that the trio (formerly quintet) equipped with a drum machine were playing, I overheard rumours of friends now keen to attend The White Hotel’s notorious event.

Divide and conquer. A pared down @cabbage_band celebrate the witching hour.

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Prior to this, Phobophobes took to the stage with the entanglement of guitars and snarling frontman – their tracks astounded and helped in continuing the excitement of the night. There may have a trickle of a thought that there wasn’t a slight sense of girl power on the night but any thought of this type was blasted as soon as Yassassin headlined their slot. With tactfully coordinated outfits and an un-apologetically punk sound, their performances continue to amaze and even brought support from their friends and counterparts PINS who were seen amongst the audience. You might not have attended but it would be surprising if you didn’t hear the raw punk vibe brought by The Starlight Magic Hour.

On at 9pm, the six-piece are like a band of brothers, each mutually supporting one another and creating a raucous atmosphere brought together by the anthemic presence of their frontman of whom was backed by violinist, pacing drums and thick, deep backing vocals. Consisting of members of the more recently formed PhobophobesMeatraffle were one of the earlier acts but by no means did this make them any less brilliant. Their other-worldly take on a post-punk psychedelic mixture  has allowed them to be called “one of the greatest bands of our time” by Fat White Family. Earlier still (and presenting the evening ahead) were Yorkshire-based Drahla whose minimal punk sound blasted any idea that the other side of the Pennines is tame with their eerie post-punk collection. Reeling back to the earlier hours of the day still, first and foremost to take to the stage were MOLD who opened the night with their anarchic post-punk sound that caught the attention of any dull watcher whilst building up the pace for the night ahead. Amongst the mayhem, to keep the groove going between bands, The Beat Chics played their much-adored vinyl-only DJ set to eager party-keen attendees. Amongst the thrill of the evening which took twists and turns throughout (like any decent festival), The White Hotel was proven to be the perfect space for an all-dayer – the venue was packed out to the early hours cementing ‘An All Day Ordeal’ to be irrevocably sensational – this is not just my opinion, though, summed up with the fact that at 1am on that Sunday morning none other than Mr Mac DeMarco turned up at The White Hotel. And yes, he was lovely.

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