Emily Yacina moved from the Philly suburb of Havertown, where she grew up, to New York City to attend college at the New School last year. Since then, she has been developing a textural sound that characterizes her most recent EP, Soft Stuff. My first interaction with Emily’s music came from downloading her previous EP, Pull Through, last summer. Shortly after falling in love with Pull Through, I realized I had actually been going to school with Emily a whole year!
I finally hung out with Emily for the first time last fall, as she was preparing to release Soft Stuff, and almost immediately we talked about working on a music video together. When we finally sat down to work on the video in February, the two of us made a list of textures, images, and feelings we associated with the sonic quality of Soft Stuff. We decided on using the title track for the video, and after a month of filming the few times we were both free, I collaged the footage together and sent it back to Emily. A few weeks later the video was finished, and you can watch it here:
This month, I sat down with Emily to talk about the video, Soft Stuff, and what she’s been up to since the EP’s release.
MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON: Hey, Emily! How has your week been?
EMILY YACINA: My week has been awesome. I’m on spring break, so I’ve been recording a lot. That’s not really true, ’cause it’s only the second day, haha! But I’m going to.
Have you been playing a lot of shows since you put out Soft Stuff in December?
Yeah, I’ve been playing like three or four a month. It’s been fun! I definitely want to take a little breather in May, so I have more time to make stuff. But it’s been really good. My last show was in West Philly at this place called All Night Diner. We played with Brandon Can’t Dance, and it was amazing. This band called Addie Pray played, and they were so, so good! And Yours Are the Only Ears also played. They are from New York as well.
I was so excited when I first listened to Soft Stuff after you sent it to me in December! You covered a lot of territory you haven’t explored as much in some of your previous releases. Was the writing and recording process different at all for this one?
I tried to focus more on the keyboard parts for that EP because I wanted to challenge myself. Everything in my recordings are usually based on guitar. I wanted to try some new things and some different sounds. In the past, I didn’t have the equipment for it, but two Christmases ago I got this mini synthesizer, and that’s been a real game changer. It’s super fun to use and just mess around with.
How much did you record for Soft Stuff, and how much actually ended up on the EP?
I had about 20 demos, and I only used like six of them. I picked ones that I felt all went well together. I started with my favorite three, and then chose three that complemented the other ones, to make it cohesive.
What inspired the new EP? Where does the title come from?
The words “soft stuff” were inspired by the feeling that you have with someone, before you admit it’s there. It’s like that electric feeling that you can have with someone else. It’s a sweet feeling. I wanted to make an EP that was a little more positive than the things I’ve made in the past, so I was focused on that while I was writing it. I was also thinking a lot about colors while I was making the EP. Two colors that stuck out to me, that were important in my life while I was working on it, were this light pink and white together. They’re charming colors.
What was going on in your life when you started writing the songs for this EP?
I wrote most of the demos for it when I was at home after my first year of college. I was living in Philly, and it was right after a a big crazy year of change, so it felt like a good time to reflect and process everything that had happened in that year.
What sticks out in your memory about making this video?
It was a true collaboration! I felt like you were getting my ideas, and it was cool to work on something visual for a change. When I think about planning it, I remember all of the textures we came up with together, and that was one of my favorite parts of the video. We had so many different ideas, like the grapefruit, and the sequins, and the glitter. It was fun to think of a texture and use that, instead of it having a narrative or anything like that.
Do you have any shows coming up soon?