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Yassou Benedict is a San Francisco-based four-piece rock band that makes tightly composed pop music with integrity. Originally formed when the band members were attending high school in the upstate New York town of Hudson, the songs on Yassou Benedict’s debut EP (“In Fits In Dreams,” July 2nd) convey a surreal longing via unconventional structures and shifting time signatures that are bold, emotional, and immediate.
“We all flew back to Hudson to record at Dioramaland Studios, which is run by Steve Durand, who we have worked with since the beginning,” says Yassou Benedict’s James Jackson (Guitar, Drums, Vocals.) “Steve was the first person to really care for us and give us an opportunity to record.” Durand also introduced the band to former Hole and Smashing Pumpkins member, Melissa Auf Der Mauer, who appears on two of the tracks on “In Fits In Dreams,” including the first single “The Cloisters”.
“Melissa is also a resident of Hudson,” explains Jackson. “She and Steve have been collaborators and really close friends since the time that they were first starting out in Montreal. Steve played her some of our tracks, she really liked them, and offered to sing on them. We left most of it up to her and Steve, and we think the results are fantastic. Melissa’s been a great supporter of ours.”
With lyrics both personal and political, Yassou Benedict’s songs are inspired by coming of age in these turbulent times of progress and destruction, and they reflect the minds of a group of young individuals working to create music that is disconnected from any trends or revivals. Each of the band members – the group also includes Lilie Bytheway-Hoy (Lead Vocals, Bass), Patrick Aguirre (Drums), and A.J. Krumholz (Guitar, Keys, Vocals) – brings wildly different tastes in music to the table.
“We dislike each other’s tastes for the most part,” jokes Jackson. “But, when we make music together, the differences lend themselves to this genre defying sound that we create. Lilie and I get most of our influences from current alt-pop; moody, mild music such as Efterklang, Phantogram, and Lykke Li,” says Jackson, elaborating. “Patrick leans on the side of funk, older-hip hop, and intense electronic music such as Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. A.J. listens to metal; bands such as Kwelertalk and Mastodon. All of these influences come through in our music at different times.”
In high school, the one artist that all of Yassou Benedict could agreeably obsess on was Radiohead. “In Rainbows was recently released and was one of the biggest contributing factors to us first engaging with one another,” says Jackson. This connection was strong enough to move the band members to hop into a car (accompanied by a Great Dane) in 2011, and drive across the country to their new home of San Francisco.
“Since moving to California, our songs have become more nostalgic as we work on finding our identities in this new place, and the world as a whole,” Jackson says, reflecting on their relocation. “We believe the music and images that we put into the world speak for themselves. We want to have a lasting career, even if it’s smaller one, and we want to be making music that’s constantly changing and morphing.”
Yassou Benedict’s first single “The Cloisters” is about allowing yourself to be emotionally swept up and taken away while maintaining your true identity. With “In Fits In Dreams,” Yassou Benedict has firmly established this ability, and the song is a perfect example of what this band has in store.
Yassou Benedict’s debut EP “In Fits In Dreams” will be released on the band’s own Be Easy Baby label on July 2nd, 2013. Its first single “The Cloisters” (featuring vocal contributions from Melissa Auf Der Mauer) is streaming now.
I want you to notice
The way that you're looking
You got me
From here in the darkness
Where smoke turns to ashes
You take me
And high in the tree tops
You dare to embrace me
Their footsteps surround us
I know where Im going
and I want to surrender
I'm losing this battle
and I want to surrender
Ah let me surrender
- Dream Pop