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Got To Keep Me Goin' / Pick Flowers
~ Zed Bias presents Yannah Valdevit
- Label: Tru Thoughts
- Cat Number: TRUDD052
Out on 23rd July, “Gotta Keep Me Goin’” / “Pick Flowers” is the first single from Croatian singer, songwriter, producer and pianist Yannah Valdevit, following the recent announcement of her signing to Tru Thoughts, which has prompted over 10,000 plays of the two tracks on the label’s Soundcloud in under a week. The double A-side digital package precedes the ‘Equilibrium’ album, which is co-produced by label mate and long-time collaborator Zed Bias.
Yannah takes an inventive approach to song structure, using her fine voice in unconventional and multi-layered patterns. She deploys her vocals as another instrument in the mix alongside cutting edge beats, jazz inflections, melodic hooks and lush string arrangements, for a euphoric and emotional feel with a nod to the Balearic sound perfected in a previous incarnation as part of the duo Eddy Meets Yannah (who released three successful albums on Compost Records between 2003 and 2010).
With dramatic strings, deep bass and soaring soulful melodies, “Gotta Keep Me Goin” tells of the feeling of surrender for an anxious or fragile person falling in love; in Yannah’s words, “In this song the anxious one glorifies its lover believing it is its life force and cure for all, begging it to stay... future life seems unbearable without this almost god-like lover.” On “Pick Flowers”, the simple, staccato vocal hook weaves into a shifting and lilting downtempo soundtrack of keys and beats, building to a crescendo of strings. Yannah’s minimal lyrical couplet gives voice to a universal conundrum of pushing to reach a goal, versus being happy with what we have. “Just gazing at a flower in its natural environment won't cause any damage and is award enough, but still somehow we want it for ourselves; confronting own weakness and greed, a fight that lasts for a lifetime”, she says.
Having become interested in performing aged four, enrolling in music school at age seven and continuing this classical education up to degree level, Yannah’s life has been immersed in and defined by music; it has taken her from her hometown of Zagreb through Croatia to Europe, the US and Japan. She started to identify her own musical path when she discovered jazz as a teenager, and became hooked. Singing in local clubs, she made a name for herself and became a guest vocalist for numerous projects, from the underground to nationally televised shows with the Croatian National Big Band. Starting her own acid-jazz band was the next progression, which allowed her to immerse herself in the club culture of the era and get into songwriting and arranging seriously for the first time.
In the early 2000s Yannah began collaborating with deep house and jazz producers Eddy & Dus. Eddy Meets Yannah was soon formed, and their sun-soaked, house-tinged songs became cornerstones of the scene in the Balearics and beyond, gaining tastemaker support from the likes of Gilles Peterson (then on BBC Radio 1), XLR8R, Café del Mar and Kev Beadle (Solar Radio) to name a few. This project sparked a new learning curve in which Yannah worked to accrue further credentials as writer, producer, musician and arranger. Initially this was in order to gain the freedom to make her own music exactly how she wanted it, but in the process she became a much sought after producer and songwriter, providing her services for Atjazz & Domu (on the big selling “Info People”/”City Madness” single), as well as a remix for Chicago house legend Craig Loftis’ underground hit “Mary Mary”, among others. In the mid-2000s she met Dave Jones (aka Zed Bias), who became a trusted mentor and friend, leading to various collaborations and ultimately to this solo work.
A recent scholarship to study for a year in Japan – having learnt Japanese to a high level as a hobby - gave Yannah space and time away from her own studio to rediscover her inner music geek and listen to all types of music, devouring mixes by Benji B (BBC R1) and Lefto and getting lost in Mixcloud. This experience, following a spell of creative and personal difficulty, led to the most productive and satisfying period of Yannah’s life. The liberation she felt from this trip led to a songwriting spree, the fruits of which were honed into the ‘Equilibrium’ album.