Can you talk to us more about your latest single “What Can I Say”?
Well, its the first single from our second project. We wrote this song about a year ago and have been sitting on it since then. Personally to us, it showcases a maturity in our artistic development in comparison to our previous project, as well as a more collaborative writing process.
Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song?
In its short form, the primary inspiration came from a time spent in LA where Colin Plant (vocals) had experienced feeling his most content in a long time. From the people he was with, to his surroundings, to the enhanced tastes, smells and sounds of everything for him at that moment, everything was perfect. In writing this song, he wanted to encapsulate these moments as they most certainly won’t last forever, and often get lost in memory.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Yes, actually. We shot one at the end of last summer, so we’re excited to finally release it. It was directed by Cody LaPlant, a rising talent from Milwaukee who’s worked on some really incredible videos.
The single comes off your new album Cabal – what’s the story behind the title?
The theme behind this project was all about identity. The discussion on identity ranges form the idea of acting out of character to make someone else happy, or hearing an observation on your life and being in denial about it. Cabal embodies the sentiment that when it comes to the intricacies of our personal relationships we often have to choose which face we wear. We manufacture and engineer our identity to be whatever we feel is most appropriate to the situation, even if its a total deviation from our natural self. We’re all guilty of it. Welcome to the cabal.
How was the recording and writing process?
We have a very non-process process. It usually starts with Mark Gage (producer) working on sections of instrumentals. Maybe its just a chorus or a melody or a drum pattern. From there we all decide what is and isn’t working with song and how we can all best contribute to it. Our last project saw us building all of the instrumentals first and then vocals last, but this project was different from that. We would add the contribution from one person and it might effect or change what we needed from someone else. It took us a while to figure out how to best work together where we are all creatively tapped in but following a plan at the same time.
What role does Milwaukee play in your music?
Milwaukee is a weird place to live if you’re in any creative field. On one hand, its just small enough that you can quickly make a name for yourself amongst the city. We saw this happen with the release of our first project. We were getting radio play, playing halftime shows for the Bucks, playing at a lot of festivals, etc. and we had absolutely no prior connections. It just happened organically.
On the other hand, the city isn’t a market that’s being watched. It’s a greenhouse. There is so much talent in this city, but nowhere for it to expand beyond. There’s a well known glass ceiling that has seen some really talented people have to abandon their ambition to grow beyond the city.
But we love Milwaukee. This is our challenge to overcome. How do you break that glass ceiling without having to leave your home? Stay tuned.
Known for blending different genres – do you tend to balance them together or does one tend to shine out the most depending on the lyrics’ theme?
I think we’ve begun to galvanize our sound a bit. It took us a while to figure out when we are comfortable being pop, or punk, or hip hop, or electronic. Mark Gage (producer) tends to kick-off the song build with a few short instrumental ideas, but they don’t really start with any structure or plan. The instrumental evolves as we all contribute. Colin Plant (vocals) stylistically drifts between soothing soulful croons to a more snappy hip hop approach. Joshua Paynter (bass) is traditionally a guitarist for a post-punk band, so he has a very active bass presence throughout the song, whereas in most electronic songs the bass tends to take a very predictive, deep-impact road. Christopher Quasius (guitar) was always more of a rhythm guitarist, but we tend to leverage more single string plucking during verses to create a more airy and open instrumental. Then for choruses he and Josh will kick on the distortion and the song suddenly feels a bit more rock than it does electronic.
So, point being, its organic. Whatever feels right. It took us a while to know what that means for us, but we are all pretty comfortable with how we work together now and where we each excel.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
We each come from very different musical backgrounds, so stylistically, we pull from what we’re close to at the moment. No No Yeah Okay has become the melting pot of electronic, punk, and hip hop influences. The deviation from the electronic genre is probably most notable during our live sets where we break way from the structure of our songs a bit.
Lyrically, Colin pulls from life. I think that separates us from pop electronic artists. Usually the content of those songs are vague or aspirational. We’re not singing about being a superstar, partying, or simply being in love. Our content is born from real life experiences and delivered in a way where we hope to strike a sentiment that is relatable.
Any plans to hit the road?
We’re planning a few regional shows in the Midwest and then will be looking beyond that when the time is right.
What else is happening next in No No Yeah Okay’s world?
We’re onto the next projects. The goal is to release singles more rapidly.