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Izzie Yardley – All We Have

2020 was a strange time. It’s easy to reduce all of it down to a banal sentence or two – and it’s amazing how soon we all do, and have done – but, wow, it was pretty weird. Anyway, this post isn’t about all of that. September 2020 was the first time that I heard Izzie Yardley’s I’m Still Here. I was shuffling around a house on a grey, depressing estate in a Scottish seaside town with my wife and our then-one-year-old, wondering like everyone else when things would be ‘normal’ again. We’d only just moved up from Essex to be nearer her family and things were not going quite how we’d envisaged – what with not being able to see any people, nevermind family, and the genuine fear of what was going to happen with Covid still dangling above us. And that’s not to speak of what was already shaping up with Brexit (who’d have thought, right???!). So it was in this context that I first heard Izzie Yardley’s music.

Now, two-and-a-half years later, here I am again compelled to write about another beautiful four minutes of music in the form of All We Have. And, really, it is beautiful. Lyrically, musically, dynamically, everything just hits right. From the way it slowly unravels from a lovely descending arpeggio, to the mellotron that sneaks in around the minute mark, and the drums that fall in and drop in and out of a playful shuffle. Not to mention the purity (and clarity) of Yardley’s voice. But, look, I’ve been trying to describe what it sounds like, and really there’s no point in me doing that when you can just scroll down and click on it. It’s rich, warm, nuanced, comforting, and surprising. Above all though, it’s just very good. Listening to it, and going back to the two ‘lockdown’ songs on Bandcamp, I am reminded of how we kind of mark time with music. Perhaps more so than with any other type of art. And in the same way that I’m Still Here conjures up a very specific set of images for me, I’m fairly certain that All We Have will do the same. Things change, and the world soon moves on. Some things get better, maybe some things get worse, but great music and great artists leave an indelible mark.

A brief Q+A with Izzie Yardley

📷 Dan Wilberforce

• Hi Izzie. As you know, I really loved the music you put out a couple of years ago. This new track is equally stunning, and in Nick Drake terms I kind of see it as being the Bryter Layter to I’m Still Here’s Five Leaves Left Do you see your new material as being different to what came before?

Yes and no. It’s technically different because it’s essentially the first time I’ve created music with multiple creative voices. It’s got Dom, the producer’s voice, it’s got Ethan’s voice, it’s got Nick’s voice, it’s got mine. I can hear all of us in it and that’s really exciting to me. Equally, it’s the same because I wrote the song. (All We Have was actually written before both the songs that have come out before.) So it’s essence is still the same. It’s just dressed up slightly differently.

• Obviously, things are more ‘normal’ now than in 2020, so how has that affected how you go about things? I’ve seen some footage on your Instagram of recording, and I guess I’m just wondering if you have the arrangement etc. kind of down or if you’re playing about and seeing what happens right up until the end…

Recording ‘All We Have’ and the other songs we worked on was my first experience in a professional studio; I’d always wanted to record live with other musicians, which obviously wasn’t an option but when I released the first tracks. I think the approach differs depending on what the song requires, but for this session it was very much “let’s just see what happens.” I’d chosen these people to work with because I thought their voices would challenge my singular vision in a complimentary way. So the goal was to go in and trust.

We’d gather in the morning at the studio. I’d play the song we’re going to record acoustically to Ethan. ‘I have an idea of what I can do,’ he says. ‘Great, let’s try it,’ I say. After finding the mic sounds we like we press record. Nick and I at opposite ends of one room while Ethan’s in an adjoining drum room. After playing it through maybe 3 or 4 times we’d listen back, check we’ve got ‘it’ and then move on. 

AWH was a fully formed song before the studio and I’d previously tried playing it with multiple drummers live, discovering that it didn’t really support the song if drums come in from the start. So we knew that much before we began. I’ve also played live with Nick for years now so he was very familiar with the song. When it came to the overdubs, Dom and I discussed what we felt might be missing/what we might have access to, and then it would be a case of just trying things out. With AWH Ethan came and played mellotron while I put on some extra guitar. 

• I’m not great at drawing comparisons with other artists, and can fall back on the same few – probably because I tend to be drawn to a certain sound more than any other. In terms of influences, musical or otherwise, what kind of things do you see in your work?

I also find it really difficult to draw those comparisons. Largely because the music I make doesn’t sound like a lot of the music I listen to. Recently I’ve been listening to Gil Scott-Heron, David Bowie and Elgar. I asked my Patreons this recently and they gave me some interesting suggestions of what they hear: Tori Amos, Suzanne Vega, Joan As Policewoman, Tracy Chapman were a few. As well as our clearly mutual favourite, Nick Drake. It was fascinating because I was unfamiliar with some of that music. I’ve since done a deep dive and I can see how they’re drawing those connections.

• Why do you do what you do?

Basically I can’t help it. I’ve shared before how it was listening to classical music as a kid that first opened a door for me, to music’s power to emotionally connect. That’s what really drove the fascination with it. But at the end of the day, in those rare moments now when I get to take time off, when I’m completely run down and once my basic needs (sleep, food) have been met, I’ll go to an instrument and start playing. Or if I’m in a fight with music it’s paper, pencils, paint. Making something feels like meeting an old friend, it’s a comfort. Sustenance.

You can find Izzie Yardley on Instagram, Bandcamp, and Patreon.


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