If you haven’t yet basked in the glow of yokittyjo’s chilled, emotional sounds then that’s something you need to remedy – right now.The laid-back compositions combine the vintage electronica of the masterful Portishead, with the flushed emotion of Bat for Lashes and the lyrical poignancy of Lana del Ray, a perfect combination of strength and soul food. There’s a clear bloodline traceable back to pioneers like Kate Bush and Blondie, as well as an underlying dance heartbeat that harks back to the deep house producers of the 1990s. It’s music designed to make the listener feel it – and it delivers exactly what it sets out to do.
Yokittyjo is something of a sonic chameleon. From a background peppered with opera and choral music, through a love affair with dance, there has always been music on the agenda – but this is an independent artist who has taken some bold and unique steps to get to where she is today. Yokittyjo’s first move into the limelight was via the dance scene in Australia in the late 1990’s where, under the name Jmg13, she established herself as a popular VJ , producing visual content for festivals, clubs, live acts, DVD compilations, and performing at events like The Big Chill in the UK. This experience is clearly evident in the music she makes today, which she admits is heavily influenced by the likes of Tom Middleton and Dave Seaman, as well as more diverse luminaries, such as Bebel Gilberto,Etta James and Fleetwood Mac, and adventures in early dub step and trip hop.
Although visuals still remain on the agenda, yokittyjo has shed the VJ skin and shifted her creative focus firmly to making music and performing. She admits to being ‘something of a late starter’ when it comes to honing her vocal talents, but the raw material for the sound now emerging has clearly been developing over a number of years: “singing and music was always there but something I never considered. Then one day it just presented itself. Luckily, I had one or two friends who had trained as professional singers – Edoardo Santoni – who graciously guided me, providing workshops, teaching and support.” When it comes to crafting her sonic creations Yokittyjo takes a truly 21st century approach to making music, using programs like Ableton and Garage Band and the endless possibilities of the iPad to bring her ideas to life.
The results of these labour’s have so far seen Yokittyjo independently release two singles – ‘Glassandra’ and ‘Don’t Know Why’ – emotive, lo-fi tracks that have garnered positive feedback from fans. The appeal of the tunes lies in their lighthearted feel and the genuine sentiment of lyrics that tell of past experiences, set over emotive melodies and commanding arrangements. Yokittyjo herself describes Glassandra as “a bit of fun,” that “recalls the floating dancing of clubs and festivals,” and makes a playful reference to the firebird legend. ‘Don’t Know Why’ was recorded in Hong Kong with direction by vocal coach Krystal Diaz. Building upon experience and working on the voice and music in the studio with Krystal. She says; I learned a lot about myself that year spent in Hong Kong. Singing in such a beautiful place where art and music is a fusion of east meets west.”
In terms of what the future holds for yokittyjo, there is of course a focus on honing that vocal sound – with a new master teacher in New York – as well as a keenness to explore the potential for collaborations and musical development, and to begin showcasing her burgeoning talent. But yokittyjo is much more than a wannabe pop star and this multitalented artist is also developing other projects, exploring the online medium as a way to showcase performances and develop the yokittyjo brand. Although Lady Gaga-style world domination may not be on the agenda, there is a determination to create a unique identity and to bring the yokittyjo sound to the ears of an international audience.
How does she plan to achieve this? “Sometimes, you have to take life by bunny ears and jump on board,” she says; and you can’t really argue with that.