Hello I Ya Toyah and thanks for joining us! As a warm-up, tell me three of your favorite albums of all time and why they hit the mark for you.
I Ya Toyah: Hello, thank you so much for having me! Oh wow, it is super hard to pick just three. There is so much good music I often return to, so many great albums that I consider mood boosters for whatever current frame of mind. The ones that come to me right now are "Death Magnetic" by Metallica, "Nocturnal" by The Midnight and "Alive in New Light" by IAMX. All three are my go-to albums for when I feel a certain way, music on these records help me get deeper in the current mood, get comfortable with it even when it’s extremely uncomfortable at first, and sort my thoughts out. They always make me feel better.
Your latest EP “Out of Order” is here. Tell me about the cover art; it shows a giant version of you with a small version of you trapped in a cage on a giant you’s head. What is this meant to represent?
I Ya Toyah: This artwork (photographed and created by Krzysztof Babiracki) is a representation of mental wear; unwellness. Everything the pandemic has been for me, personally. It’s that mental version of craving the freedom, and the outside one - the version we present to the world - staying cool in the eyes of observers regardless of the chaos that happens on the inside. With mental health it is often the case. Humans have a hard time grasping this idea that someone might be going through hell, and that behind the smile or strong appearance the darkest, troubling emotions are hiding away. This cover art, just like the lyrics of "Out of Order" have multiple layers of meanings, but all of them come down to discomfort and are created to encourage the conversation that is often ignored. A conversation that starts with, “Are you okay?”
I took the title track ‘Out of Order’ as about someone who looks fine on the outside, but is internally struggling. What inspired this song and is my description correct? If not, what is the song about?
I Ya Toyah: 'Out of Order' single, as well as the whole EP, are inspired by the pandemic and all associated emotions and events that were happening in 2020. Your description is definitely correct. It’s the struggle that has been a pretty prominent element of life as the result of lockdown and isolation, it’s realization that all the strengths we had before are now a reminder of the lack of control we have on current events, and on our life. It’s a very dark and intimate song, showing the consequence of isolation; deeper reclusion, sense of loneliness and abandonment by the world, passions, everything that mattered pre- pandemic.
Tell me a little bit about the video for ‘Concrete’. It seems science-fiction inspired and contains a protagonist who’s going through a desperate struggle. What is the song about and how does the video correlate to the theme?
I read that the song ‘Pray’ is a “definitive statement of pandemic feels”. Was this song inspired by the pandemic? What troubles have you seen through the ordeal?
I Ya Toyah: ‘Pray’ is probably one of the most intimate songs and vocal performances I have shared with the world so far. I totally let go all the emotions in this one. Every word explains the progress of losing hope, the entrapment I’ve felt due to the lockdown and inability to go on with my life, the dreams, plans. All these dark feelings while being isolated, unable to fully express them. I am sure that most of us felt, still feel exactly the same way. I am an atheist but this song’s meaning goes far beyond the religious one. It is an outreach for hope; an ask for the sign that there is a future waiting for us in the times where the values we all stand by no longer define humanity, and the world is no longer the place we knew it as.
In comparison to the rest of the songs on the EP, ‘Death’s Kiss’ is the most dancefloor accessible with an electro vibe to it. What sound or mood were you aiming for with this track?
I Ya Toyah: 'Death’s Kiss' is the fourth song and chapter of "Out of Order". It’s filled with darkness and irony; it’s a playful game with death. The whole time of pandemic feels like we are in an actual video game, taking risks, turns, going against the enemy to complete the round. It is the song about dying, but it’s placed in the almost frivolous, light sound reality, representing the total mental shut down: "it’s been such a hell, but you wouldn’t miss, a dark ride, death’s kiss". Everyday life, even pre-pandemic, gives us these challenges. It is that survival mode, and acceptance that at the end of it all there is an ultimate goodbye waiting for us.
‘Vast Spaces’ is perhaps the angriest song on the album, letting industrial rock and metal influences flow through it. Why did you choose to make this song so rough? What is it about?
I Ya Toyah: Vast Spaces is the fifth and last song or chapter of the EP. It is a sum of all the emotions, combined, hitting straight on without any reservation. From 'Out of Order' buildup and explosion, through dreamy unrest of 'Concrete', the feeling of isolation and outreach for hope in 'Pray', and brush with death in 'Death’s Kiss', to the final culmination: that pissed off emotion, mental outburst, total mayhem. I wanted to make the final song of EP the roughest, most angry, because that translates perfectly to the overall feel coming from isolation, the lack of control over our lives, the lack of any sense of security as we know it. All there is is vast spaces. The endless sphere of questions frozen in the empty landscape mind provides in times like this. “I’ve been feeling numb hour by hour” refers to that stagnancy that lockdown threw upon us. No matter how hard you try to break the cycle and aim to live life the way we knew before, you end up in the same place: where there is no prediction, no guide given on how to live this new, pandemic life. Pandemic and its execution, the way things are makes us all angry. For some this emotion is buried deeply under a façade of other feelings this difficult time brings, but let’s face it: it is a trying moment for each of us, for humanity.
One of the most dominating aspects about I Ya Toyah, aside from the music, is your social media presence. You have a wicked direct-to-fan communication. What is your strategy with digital marketing and how does it work for you?
I Ya Toyah: I love being in touch with my fans. If it’s wicked -hehe, I don’t know- but thank you. It’s something of a natural need more than the marketing strategy; I am simply thankful for the connection with people who understand my creations and support this musical journey I’m on. As far as digital marketing, I take advantage of technology and opportunities modern times give us. I can’t be everywhere at the same time. It’s not possible, and now during the pandemic I cannot be anywhere but at my home waiting for the times when we can have person to person interactions in physical settings again. I talk to my fans on social media, sharing whatever it is that happens to be current in my life. Home / studio renovations, song release, my dog, mental health day, collaborations; anything and everything that is real, honest, and gives the start to conversation and connection on not just artist to fan level, but human to human one.
And what else do you have planned for 2021? Any remixes, singles, or EPs in the works?
I Ya Toyah: I have been very busy working on my space renovation, hoping to get to studio space design soon. So this takes a big chunk of my mentality and time these days. I released my "Out of Order" on Bandcamp on March 26th, but I’m still dropping singles on Spotify and all other streaming platforms and this will be ongoing activity until June. I've just released 'Pray' worldwide, so for everyone who is not familiar with Bandcamp - my personal favorite place to release and find new music - so for everyone who uses streaming to discover new tunes, it’s a good opportunity to follow I Ya Toyah and check out this new single as well as the other ones that are already released.
With this, I’ll also have more music videos that are visual representations of the songs that are a part of "Out of Order". I’m working with an amazing team of creatives, Ralph Klisiewicz of Niche Visuals, Marcin Murawski, Joel Lopez of Lumbra Productions and Nicola Palazzo of Evolution Recording, and we go outside the box, finding new challenging ideas to include in video production. There is a lot of sacrifice going into these, I’m talking some crazy things we are doing to translate the meanings in the songs into the world of visual arts. Pray video will be coming out later this month, we are filming the last scenes as I speak- it’s very exciting! As far as the remixes, I’ll definitely be putting a remix album of "Out of Order" at some point. I also recently did my very first remix, for an amazing and very well known industrial music personality and band - I won’t be revealing who it is at this time, but this will be announced soon and I’m super excited. Making this remix I realized how much fun it is to reimagine the song someone else created - meaning I’m now officially open for remix business! Love it!
Lastly, I would like to thank you for your time. I leave the space below for you to mention anything that I may have missed. Cheers!
I Ya Toyah: Thank you so much for having me! I must say that I love and appreciate Brutal Resonance in ways I cannot fully explain without getting emotional. When I started my solo project I Ya Toyah in 2018, I knew absolutely no one in the industrial electronic music scene. I came from the metal scene and these are worlds apart; different communities, people, contacts to reach out to. Google was my best friend as I was about to release my first single, 'Code Blue' in mid 2018. I prepared a spreadsheet with contacts I was able to find to reach out to for a publication, mention, any kind of online validation that I Ya Toyah exists and has this music coming out. Having 0 fans, and very minimal idea of what the scene is, I felt pretty lost. It was days and days of research, sleepless nights. And you were the first magazine that responded to me- from probably about three-hundred emails I sent out. This is just something I’ll never forget, it was huge to me at that time as is huge to me today. Thank you for being, supporting the scene and giving me that chance back then. For an independent artist who doesn’t have the machinery of support behind them it truly means everything. Also, to all my fans, I love you - thank you for the fact that in the world filled with content you choose to resonate with mine!
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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