"I won’t even try in case it don’t work, I hate you and I hate this." - Nilufer Yanya

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By Eish Sumra

Listening to Nulifer Yanya isn’t always an entertaining experience. In fact, sometimes it gives you anxiety. Her morose voice coupled with melancholy guitar plucking, is an intensely isolating experience. You feel cut off from the world as you enter her dark mind of anger and frustration. It’s hardly easy listening. Yet that’s the beauty of the Yanya’s intergenerational music. She combines the soulfulness of the pre-millennia with the grunge of British alternative bands from the early 2000s then weaves in hints of modern day angsty youth. 

Yanya is a true Londoner, young, grumpy and from a background as varied as can be. She grew up on the West side to parents with Turkish, Irish and Bajan heritage. Her duality continues with the music she listened to during her youth. Think lots of Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse and funnily enough, The Pixies. You can hear the mixed bag of influences on her debut EP’s. All of which lay down some soft, grunge rock but are laced with soulful twists and turns. 

Her music doesn’t fit into a genre because she demands that it doesn’t have to. Each song is gorgeously put together, building to explosive  moments, but before the trigger is pushed, she stops. This makes her craft claustrophobic, with many songs not quite revealing the heartache behind them as she attempts to restrain herself. On her somber track “Thanks 4 Nothing” she laments the ending of a relationship with gently strumming guitar and some wistful 60s girl group oohs and ahhs in the background, injecting an aggressive, pounding set of chords as the song builds with burning rage. Then silence, before she reverts back to her mournful guitar strumming. The effect is undeniably breathtaking, as difficult as it is to stay in the moment with her, you can’t stop listening. Nilufer Yanya makes listening to her music a tortuous but necessary action - because she turns the pains of relationships not into clichés like many of today’s artists, but into stories of hardship and eventual triumph. Nilufer Yanya could have a “The Handmaid’s Tale” grip on modern music. 

To all those who say guitar music is dead - Yanya is here to defy you, in the most moving way possible.

Steven Norwalk