The Buddha Den

Everything you wanted to know about the Dayton music scene and more but were afraid to ask

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

PROFILE: Yndi Halda

...with the recent release of their debut disc Enjoy Eternal Bliss, Yndi Halda are starting to make waves in the US. Hailing from Canterbury, England, the band are currently out on their first jaunt through the US, with a tour stop in Dayton scheduled for this Sunday, August 3. Guitarist/vocalist James Vella recently took time to speak with The Buddha Den about their schoolmate beginnings, musical growing pains, and the proposition of their first US tour...

The Buddha Den: Why don't we start by getting a little background on Yndi Halda. How long have you all known each other? How did the band come together? What musical interests brought you together?

James Vella: The band came together quite gradually and organically over a stretch of time; Jack, Olly and I have always played in bands together since we were children – we formed our first band when we 12 or 13 years old, which eventually became yndi halda when we were around 15. Daniel and Brendan have always been close friends of ours and it was only a few months after we started writing that they filled the “missing member” gaps.

The first band we worked on together was much more rock; we used to listen to a lot of Jeff Buckley and Radiohead, but we all accidentally discovered instrumental music (Labradford, Tortoise, Sigur Ros etc) around the same time and started writing different sorts of songs. More recently, though, we’ve been moving away from instrumental music and writing more pop-influenced pieces. Happily, like with other musical shifts in this band, it all seems to have happened unanimously without planning anything in advance.

TBD: Having worked on the material that appears on your debut Enjoy Eternal Bliss for nearly 3 years, how did the material come together? What sort of evolutions did the material and the band go through during that period? After spending so much time on the tracks, how did the band finally reach the conclusion that it was finished?

JV: I think the reason that record took so long was that we were so young when we wrote it, and the song-writing process was all very new for us. Also, we didn’t really have in mind that we were aiming for any specific project, like a record or anything, and so weren’t particularly pushed to finish up songs for a deadline. We still have some of the early versions of the songs from that record, and the evolution is really noticeable. Although we’re now writing new material that is a huge development of the Enjoy Eternal Bliss songs, I’m still really proud of that record – we all are – and I’m really happy with the creative decisions we made. Things like, for example, the vocals at the end of Dash and Blast, and the glockenspiel part in We Flood Empty Lakes were last minute additions to the songs, and now are among my favourite parts of the record.

The next album is going to be simultaneously easier and more difficult than the first, I think. We’re much more mature now, in terms of song-writing – we were teenagers when we started Enjoy Eternal Bliss – but it’s quite hard to write songs knowing that there are people listening, comparatively.

We always write for ourselves, rather than for an “audience”, because song-writing is just something that we as individuals do, but even so it’s a lot more pressure than the first record to have things finished within a certain timescale, and to fit songs into the “canon” of what we’ve done already and what we hope to do in the future.

TBD: While YH may easily fit into the "post-rock" category, how does the band view itself in terms of stylistics? What do you feel sets your band apart from other practitioners in that field?

JV: Honestly, we don’t really think of ourselves as a “post-rock” band. We’re aware that lots of people do, and it doesn’t bother us, but none of us are hugely into the bands that I associate with the genre. I think we’re a lot more optimistic-sounding than the bleakness that I feel surrounds “post-rock”.

Someone described us recently as “expansive, orchestral indie-rock”, which I think fits really nicely; I definitely like to think of our songs as representing each one of those adjectives.

TBD: Coming from Canterbury, England on your first US jaunt, how has the band prepared for the adventure? What sorts of expectations do you have of touring America? What can audiences expect from a YH performance?

JV: The preparations for this tour have been among the most time-consuming of every tour we’ve done so far! The visa applications especially, as well as finishing new songs and rehearsing with a stand-in violin player (Daniel wasn’t able to make this tour, unfortunately, but our good friend Oli is helping out).

We’ve heard a lot of stories about touring in the states, some of them good (that audiences are really appreciative and welcoming) and some of them terrifying (that the drives between shows take hours and hours). Touring is undoubtedly the best thing in the whole world, though, so we’re looking forward to everything.

We see ourselves as quite a different live band from the recorded material; we play a little louder and little rockier. Whereas in the studio we can spend time and thought on intricate textures and specific sounds, live we prefer to just have fun. We’ve yet to smash any instruments on stage (except by accident), but I’m finding it harder to resist the urge every show!

TBD: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about YH?

JV: New songs coming soon! can catch Yndi Halda at Pearl this Sunday, August 3 as part of The Buddha Den Presents series, along with local flavor from Grizzzzy Bear, The Motel Beds, and Lungs...

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