Artist Interview: “Calm Before The Storm” by Yana

Q: “Calm Before The Storm” has such a beautiful instrumental that even without vocals, I can feel the emotion. What do you hope listeners take from listening to “Calm Before The Storm”?

Yana: It’s meant to be an evocative track. I hope people realize how short life can be and they should enjoy it to the fullest while they still can, as a line in the song says “hold it close before it fades.” Tell those close to you that you love them. Tell them what they mean to you before it’s too late. 

Q: How did the pandemic change the way you create music? Did it stunt your growth or actually heighten it?

Yana: I became more open to remote collaborations. I am usually this lone wolf who likes to do it all by herself but when the opportunity of co-writing presents itself I wouldn’t be against it. I did a few remote collaborations throughout the pandemic which was a good learning curve too. And honestly if the past two years weren’t like they were I’m not sure the album will be ready now. Having more time than usual to be creative is what I see as a benefit from that extraordinary time. 

Q: “Calm Before The Storm” is dedicated to the passing of musician Jitka Suranska; is there a reason this death stood out to you?

Yana: I didn’t know Jitka personally but she was a key figure at Folk holidays festival in Namest nad Oslavou, Czech Republic. I have been going there for 15 years, it’s a truly special place, for the performers and the audience alike. The news of Jitka’s passing came as a shock and I felt, as a creative mind, I had to react somehow. And the best way to do so for us songwriters is to write a song about it. 

Q: If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?

Yana: That’s a tough question to answer. I’ve already had massive dreams come true throughout the process of recording my debut EP and most recently the debut album. But I would have loved to have a songwriting session with my biggest hero, the late Fergus O’Farrell of Interference, who was also a dear friend. I miss him every day. 

Q: Your vocals on “Calm Before the Storm” is remarkable! So beautiful; what first got you into music?

Yana: Music has been an important part of my life as long as I can remember. I had always been more into lyrics, the meaning behind what it is said. My mum taught me a bit of a piano when I was a kid but I had been more drawn to the guitar and it’s all down to Karel Zich, my first musical hero, master of twelve string guitar and amazing singer, often called Czech Elvis Presley for the similarity of his voice, who introduced guitar into my life and encouraged me in the early days. I had no idea at that time that one day I will be writing and performing my own material. Karel sadly passed away in 2004 so he never got to see how far I have come but he always has a special place in my heart. I dedicated my debut EP, released in June 2020, to his memory. And also to Fergus O’Farrell’s memory, these two are key figures in my musical journey. 

Q: What has been one of the highlights of your music career so far?

Yana: Working with some of my heroes, Liam Ó Maonlaí (Hothouse Flowers) or Colm Mac Con Iomaire (The Frames) while I was recording my debut EP in 2019. And most recently Maurice Culligan, keyboard player of Interference. 

Q: In your own words, how would you describe the music that you typically create?

Yana: I create folk songs with deep lyrics, strongly influenced by Celtic music. The focus is usually on the lyrics, often dealing with themes such as loss, mental health, etc. 

Q: What is coming next for you?

Yana: We are slowly finishing the remaining album tracks. It’s been a dreamy process and I cannot wait for you all to hear the result. I hope the world won’t go crazy again and allow me to launch the album properly. I didn’t get a chance to do it with the EP, for obvious reasons. Hoping for more gigs in the light of the album release too, keep knocking on the door and being optimistic some will open. I am also working on a subscription on Bandcamp so those who like my music can support me in more substantial way. Quite a few fellow musicians have inspired me in giving it a go. What else lies ahead? As my closest friend and fellow musician, J Eoin said, we creative minds only see a fraction ahead compared to those in the outside world. In my opinion, the beauty of being an artist lies in the fact that no two days are ever the same.

Photo credits: Dave Keegan

Interviewed by Melissa Cusano


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