The music of Yes You Are is uplifting, melodic and danceable -- and definitely one of Kansas City's very best alternative pop bands. Fans of lead singer Kianna Alarid's previous band Tilly and the Wall will find much to like in Yes You Are's expansive choruses, positive energy and imaginative production. The band have been working hard on their debut album, so we are extra fortunate and grateful to share an interview with Alarid about the band's influences and book, music and movie recommendations. Enjoy!
For the uninitiated, introduce the band. Where do you all live? How would you describe your music?
We are a 5 piece band straight outta KC, consisting of songwriter/rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist Jared White, guitarist/keyboardist/sound wiz/backup vocalist Jacob Temeyer, drummer Joseph Wilner, bassist Willie Jordan and myself, songwriter and lead vocalist, Kianna Alarid. If we had to muster up a plain description of our music, we might say that its alternative pop/rock.. but really, we write songs that are traditional with a capital T.
I hear many different melodic influences in the music of Yes You Are. For example, “Echo” has unexpected traces of Beach Boys harmonies, with a melody that strangely invokes a fantasy collaboration between John Lennon and Metric, all grounded in gossamer production. Talk about some of the conscious and unconscious influences on your music.
Subconscious influence is mysterious, and its what keeps us excited to write. Lots of times, when writing songs, you don’t really know what you’re writing about until long after they’re finished. Consciously, John Lennon’s ability to lodge a melody in your head has been an influence, and Brian Wilson’s ear for music is an ideal to strive after. I mean, our biggest influence is Bob Dylan, who, on the surface, we seem nothing like, so it’s interesting how it all unfolds.
Speak about the music you’ve been working on for your debut album. What have been some of the unexpected challenges for the band during this process? How did you overcome them?
We have been greatly challenged throughout the process of recording and producing this album. For us, compromising isn’t an option so when you’re talking about all of the different collaborations that come with making an album, there can be some tensions. I think the key is keeping a positive attitude, knowing your destination and believing in what you’re doing to the point of no return. Its all been a test you know? Every step of the way has held unexpected challenges for us and its all been worth it.
What do you find inspiring about the Kansas City music community?
The thing that stands out to me about the Kansas City music community is the supportiveness and the desire to share and network in a way that feels like friendship and not business. The influential people here are so brilliant and solid, and they use their platforms to bring attention to what they think is worthwhile. You can always tell when someone loves their work, because they’re doing it better than everyone else. The taste makers in this city are so good at their jobs and I respect them immensely.
Recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
Chronicles, Volume One By Bob Dylan
More importantly than telling you anything about Bob Dylan, this book can tell you who you are as well.
Valis By Philip K. Dick
This book IS exactly what Phil is describing here in the, basically, autobiographical story of a high tech, Jesus beam that zaps the main character and causes a mystical shift in his perception.
The Complete Illuminated Books By William Blake
Take a look through the eyes of a seer.
Eyes Wide Shut (film)
Stanley Kubrick considered this the best film he ever made. It's a film about marriage, secrets, temptation, power, money and the victimization of women. It's also, as one of our members says, "the best Christmas movie ever made."
Tempest By Bob Dylan
Probably no one's favorite Dylan album except ours. If you resolve yourself to figure out what he's on about on this record you just might end up dead.