On Performing Identities: Yves Tumor and Kembra Pfahler in Dialog
This text is taken from the Spring/Summer season 2023 problem of AnOther Journal:
Kembra Pfahler: Good to fulfill you, Yves. I used to be requested to do that interview with you and I believed, “Nicely, this feels like an exquisite particular person to talk to.” Then I began listening to your songs and I believed they go on an incredible journey. I made you an award – you deserve it.
Yves Tumor: [Laughs]. Whaaaat? It’s a Statue of Liberty with my title on it? Thanks a lot, it’s stunning. I find it irresistible. Now I really feel unhealthy for not bringing you something. I wasn’t positive should you even knew who I used to be or cared, so I used to be super-excited when this interview was confirmed.
KP: How has your day been? You’re in Paris, proper?
YT: Yeah. My day was very nice. I went to my favorite bookstore, it’s referred to as 1909 – they simply moved it to Dover Road Market – I purchased some books and a few garments. And now I’m at my pal’s home and he has all these insane fetish latex magazines from the Sixties and Seventies.
KP: I’ve been listening to your songs [from your new album, Praise a Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)] and you actually don’t sound like anybody I’ve ever listened to. It’s very unusual, the best way you set shit collectively. There are these very typical paradigms of placing a track collectively, and the best way you set songs collectively is absolutely stunning and really unusual. These songs have such trippy, unusual beginnings. It’s like watching a film – the songs are cinematic. God Is a Circle, Pretty Sewer, Interlude, Parody, Operator … It doesn’t sound like every other shit I’ve heard. And I cherished the way you selected your guitar and your bass. Has that been enjoyable for you, working with all these totally different musicians? Have you ever all labored collectively for a very long time?
YT: Nearly each track has a number of session gamers. I write all the things myself after which I convey it to a producer I work with referred to as Noah Goldstein. After which we choose session gamers to come back in and replay all the things. I sit by them and poke them and prod them till they get it precisely how I need it. There are a variety of totally different individuals on the file – generally it’s 4 individuals enjoying drums on the identical track, or three totally different bass gamers. It’s very frantic, but it surely’s enjoyable.
KP: It takes me about ten years to write down ten songs. My course of could be very sluggish. What’s your writing course of like? Do you write in journals? Do you begin out with a title?
YT: I do begin with titles, however the title doesn’t correlate to the track. I often have a loop enjoying after which a melody will come out of my thoughts and I’ll open voice notes on my cellphone. I’ll simply file the melody shortly whereas it’s in my head. Then I’ll overlook about it for 3 months, discover it and write phrases to it on the spot. Typically I can write a whole track on the spot, generally it’s only a catastrophe and type of embarrassing. I don’t actually have an precise methodology.
“[Being on a label] retains the fireplace beneath your ass. It retains me on activity. I’ve a horrible consideration span, however I feel I’m a great multitasker.” – Yves Tumor
KP: I heard Led Zeppelin wrote Stairway to Heaven in two minutes. Typically songs simply come out within the snap of a finger and different songs are extra like writing a painful lengthy opera.
YT: Typically I get rushed by the label and the business to launch new music. I want I may take ten years to write down ten songs. However being signed to a label and reserving reveals – the entire hamster wheel that artists are on these days – kind of forces you to expedite a product.
KP: Perhaps it’s because I’m not on a label. We began our personal file label with [my band] The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black.
YT: What’s the label referred to as?
KP: It’s referred to as Stunning Label.
YT: I like the title.
KP: However Yves, that’s simply one thing that we did within the Eighties once we began. It’s a complete totally different world now. And to be pushed or eagerly rushed by a label, I feel that is likely to be enjoyable in a means, a problem.
YT: Yeah, it retains the fireplace beneath your ass. It retains me on activity. I’ve a horrible consideration span, however I feel I’m a great multitasker.
KP: That’s a really feminine high quality. They are saying, traditionally, multitasking is a femme factor.
YT: I’ve a variety of femme qualities.
KP: How did you begin enjoying round along with your seems and totally different selves – your costuming and make-up? That’s fairly excessive.
YT: I don’t know. I’ve at all times preferred carrying loud clothes, I’ve at all times dressed expressively, for so long as I can keep in mind. There are a variety of gifted stylists, make-up artists and videographers that I work with right this moment who assist me actualise these items. I can’t take credit score for any look or picture as a result of it’s a group of people who assist create it. I’m the vessel for a number of individuals’s artistic concepts. Clearly I’ve the ultimate name and I’m like, “Oh, this seems horrible,” or “This seems unbelievable.” However it actually is a gaggle effort.
KP: It begins with the physique – your physique is couture, your precise flesh. The physique is the instrument that all of us work with. The voice and the precise physique with none garments in any respect. For me it begins there – the physique is couture. It jogs my memory of one thing Rick Owens stated a very long time in the past, referring to working by yourself physique prefer it’s an instrument. Our pores and skin is the very first thing we put on and placed on.
YT: Yeah – how understanding and taking good care of your physique is the last word couture. It’s not even about being obsessive about going to the fitness center or being fatphobic. He stated, “Go to the fitness center and purchase much less clothes.”
KP: That is such a fucking silly query – I don’t even know why I’m asking it – however do you’ve a fitness center observe?
YT: No, I want. I prefer to go on hikes and I like swimming. The fitness center surroundings makes me self-conscious and uncomfortable. I wished to begin mountaineering simply to tone my core and to clear a variety of psychological stress.
KP: Perhaps we must always begin baseball groups. I’m a completely horrible baseball participant, however I believed that may be an important place to start. Then fairly than having to go to horrible company headquarters or something, we may meet on the baseball diamond and play baseball. We may have cheerleaders too.
YT: Oh my God. Can I begin a group and the primary sport be my group versus your group?
KP: You could be on my group otherwise you could be on each groups and we’ll break all the foundations right away. I might even have my Persian delicatessen proprietor, who’s my favorite particular person, who I’m head over heels in love with. Then I’d have my ex-husband, Samoa [Moriki, an artist and guitarist], after which all the ladies of Karen Black, they might be on my baseball group.
YT: I do not know who’d be on mine.
KP: You would simply be one particular person in your group, Yves – that may be much more spectacular. We are able to design baseball costumes to put on, you must run all the bases backwards, begin at third base, then do all the things backwards and the other way up. We are able to name the group In Spite of Struggle, after one in all your songs. Talking of design, how did you discover your stage designer?
YT: At an after-hours get together in Berlin, really. Her title is Hannah.
KP: Wow, how nice. I learn as soon as on this ebook by the outdated basic rock singer David Lee Roth that for each stage he performs on, he has a ritual the place he will get on his fingers and knees and wipes all the flooring of the stage with a rag. I believed that was so unbelievable, I began to do this as nicely. I might do the ritual on each stage – I might clear all the stage. My pal was calling it floor-itis, like I had a situation. Do you’ve any rituals?
YT: No, I don’t have any rituals. Typically my legs get actually tight. I’ve psychosomatic stress, so I’m excited and wired. I often simply sit alone on my own. If it’s a giant present I’ll want 20 minutes simply on my own within the nook, deep respiratory. I assume you’d name it stage fright. I simply attempt to take deep breaths.
“Your physique is couture, your precise flesh. The physique is the instrument that all of us work with” – Kembra Pfahler
KP: Stage fright by no means actually bothered me, I simply accepted it. I’d say, “That is unbelievable. My abdomen is flipping.” Then my band members would ask me if I wished to wish. So we began to do unusual prayers earlier than we went on stage. I at all times did this a part of my present the place I stood on my head and cracked eggs in my vagina. I might think about that after I was standing on my head somebody was going to come back and chop me down like a tree. After I first began out I did a variety of reveals at locations like CBGBs in New York. The reveals have been so intense they usually received actually violent – and I by no means had safety.
YT: Individuals have been channelling your vitality and going too overboard?
KP: Yeah, I assume that’s the essence of doing reside reveals with excessive performances. On the time we began, individuals have been principally doing reveals that have been quite simple, with no costumes. This was across the time individuals have been refusing to put on any kind of costume, no person wore make-up. It was the Nirvana-type vibe – simply flannel shirts. We wished to do one thing that was fully the other. And that’s at all times been a motive for me, to do one thing very contrarian. If I’m trying round and I don’t see one thing taking place, then I’m compelled to maneuver in the direction of that lacking aspect. That was one thing I preferred about all of your songs as I used to be saying earlier than, Yves – they actually don’t sound like something I’ve heard. They’ve your Yves Tumor stamp on them. You’ve received a number of totally different voices that I actually cherished too. How did you give you them?
YT: I simply slowly experiment with them. I’ve by no means been that assured with my singing voice, so I attempt to work with no matter works with the track and the sensation. I nonetheless assume I fuck up so much, really. Even on the brand new file, the one that you simply heard, I’m nonetheless like, “Fuck, I ought to have sung that half softer,” or “I ought to have sung this half tougher,” or “I ought to have added extra emphasis there.” I’m nonetheless figuring it out, to be trustworthy.
KP: All of us have our complete lives to seek out that out, we’ve got so many voices inside our our bodies. That’s one thing that’s enjoyable about doing data – there’s no finish to discovering the various voices an individual has inside them. Do individuals ask you about your emotions about God on a regular basis due to the title of the album and the names of your songs?
YT: No, by no means. I strive to not push this spiritual rhetoric or something. I similar to to play with these themes – I’m being very playful with it and it’s not meant to be taken actually. It’s not meant to push in opposition to anybody’s beliefs or how anybody feels, I’m simply enjoying with the imagery and referencing it in a enjoyable means.
KP: I’m your track titles. I cherished Operator, and Ebony Eye is gorgeous.
YT: Thanks a lot. That’s my favorite track on the album, I feel. Even earlier than it was completed it was simply that melody and the best way the beat, the swing of the drums and the pattern and the guitar all go collectively, I at all times cherished it. I put it on the finish as a result of it’s just like the coup de grace, the ultimate blow. I’m unhealthy at speaking about my music, are you able to inform?
KP: Speaking about one’s paintings could be very awkward. However it challenges us to invent new methods to explain what we’re doing. The primary ten years I used to be doing Karen Black I couldn’t actually articulate what my vocabulary of pictures was about. It received so much simpler as time went on.
YT: Yeah, I’ve learn and watched your interviews. You’re very eloquent while you speak about it. I don’t know why I can speak about so many different issues very fluidly and gracefully however when it’s about my music I get this psychological block – which I don’t have an issue with in any respect. I really feel prefer it needs to be that means. I really feel just like the music ought to converse for itself and the artwork and the imagery ought to say sufficient – should you simply have a look at the artwork, it is best to know what the fuck I’m saying.
KP: For some purpose I’ve been wishing that you’d do the climate report on CNN, like if Yves Tumor may sing the climate report. I believed that may be beautiful. I questioned should you ever considered singing the climate report.
YT: [Laughs.] I would strive that. I don’t know if it should sound good however I’m down for something.
KP: Did you ever just like the singer Meat Loaf?
YT: I’m conversant in him, however I don’t know his music that nicely. I at all times actually preferred his look however I by no means received that deep into his music. Why do you ask?
KP: As a result of in a few of your songs you’ve a feminine singing with you, like a dialog between you and one other feminine singing to one another.
YT: Yeah, I actually do love this. It’s not likely a battle, or a duet. I similar to the softness and the harshness of my voice with a lighter voice. I’m type of obsessive about it. What Meat Loaf album ought to I take a look at?
KP: Oh, none of them. Have you ever heard of a band referred to as Wire? They’re from England and one in all your songs jogged my memory of this hit track they did – I Am the Fly, which is likely to be inspiring so that you can watch, Yves.
Are there riots on the street over there in Paris on a regular basis? I think about Paris being like that musical Les Misérables, with revolution taking place on a regular basis.
“Typically I can write a whole track on the spot, generally it’s only a catastrophe and type of embarrassing. I don’t actually have an precise methodology” – Yves Tumor
YT: Yeah, however they’re not precisely riots, they’re protests. I’ve been right here for about two and a half weeks and there are, like, two protests every week. It has principally to do with taxis and the Métro – right this moment the Métro is shut down as a result of the Métro staff are putting. And I consider the taxi drivers are putting. I feel the French are simply by no means pleased. I can relate to that.
KP: I like people who find themselves by no means pleased. Happiness is so overrated – I can’t stand it when individuals ask me, “Are you content?” I at all times wish to say again to them, “After all, I is likely to be pleased as soon as in a blue moon, however is that basically a objective?” As human beings we’ve got about 20 to 30 totally different feelings taking place every day, particularly as of late. There’s so much to cry about proper now, that’s for positive.
YT: Yeah, it’s nearly patronising.
KP: Isn’t it impolite? It’s simply ridiculous. I additionally discover it offensive when individuals say, “I’m dwelling my greatest life.” I wish to say, “I’m dwelling my worst life every day.” Significantly, Yves, it’s actually onerous to reside your worst life.
YT: Oh my God. “I’m dwelling my worst life” – superb, I’m going to begin saying that.
KP: You understand what else I discover to be so incorrigible? When individuals say, “I’m blessed.” Are they chosen to be blessed? Why is my mom not blessed? Why would one youngster be blessed and one other youngster not be blessed? Everyone seems to be blessed.
YT: Yeah, it’s giving entitlement vitality.
KP: My mom is looking me from Hawaii. [Answers the phone]. “Mother, I can’t discuss proper now. I’m having a dialog with an artist referred to as Yves Tumor. They’re in Paris and we’re speaking concerning the album they’re about to place out. I’m going to name you again, OK? Sure, I’ll ship you Aunt Karen’s quantity. I like you a large number.” [Hangs up]. My mom has been calling me so usually. She lives in Maui.
YT: Do you go to usually?
KP: I lived there so much. Hawaii is a part of my life – I might go yearly. However in the course of the pandemic I couldn’t go as usually – I went as soon as when my dad and mom have been in hospital with Covid. However after I received again I had an enormous live performance that wiped me out. Travelling to Hawaii wiped me out. I don’t actually fly round so much.
YT: Do you surf?
KP: I do, yeah. My dad was a surfer, so I grew up browsing. I’m not superb.
YT: I’ve at all times wished to be taught. The toughest half is simply getting on the board, pushing your complete physique up after which balancing. I used to skate, so I perceive balancing on a chunk of wooden, but it surely was simply getting on the board.
KP: Wager you possibly can do it.
YT: Are you able to give me classes?
KP: Oh, completely. We may go after baseball. You would surf in France, there are locations to do it. Is it actually boring to ask you what your favorite bands have been while you have been rising up?
YT: I wasn’t fully into music after I was a child, I used to be simply absorbing what was round me. I used to be so younger after I purchased my first album. My dad took me to a file retailer and I simply picked the very first thing that I believed seemed humorous or cool. And it was Bizarre Al Yankovic’s Unhealthy Hair Day. Which is so humorous. However it type of modified my life as a result of he did parodies of Inexperienced Day and Nirvana and shit. I found all these totally different artists by way of his parodies. Then I grew up listening to Slayer by way of my mates in highschool, the Velvet Underground too. Then my brother received me into Aphex Twin and the Postal Service, which received me into digital music. I used to be listening to the Grateful Lifeless, Led Zeppelin, simply typical high-schooler, stoner music. I’m from the south, from Tennessee, so we listened to numerous bluegrass and many corny jam bands. I listened to numerous emo, clearly, which impressed numerous my data and vocal kinds too.
KP: I can actually hear that in your songs, a variety of eclectic references. Every track on the album is a bit journey, which is enjoyable, too. As a result of a variety of the time I hear stuff and I simply wish to break glass – it’s so painful as a result of they sound so homogenous. I feel you need to have … really … I heard you bought a Grammy for this. Let’s simply begin making up tales about all of the awards you bought. The coverline of the journal needs to be “Grammy and Academy Award-winning artist Yves Tumor”. I feel we must always give these issues to ourselves earlier than the work is even completed. Competitiveness with artists, I by no means actually understood, as a result of every artist is hopefully fairly totally different.
YT: I like this. I’m going to go by this for the remainder of my life.
Hair: Shingo Shibata at Streeters utilizing BUMBLE AND BUMBLE. Make-up: Kanako Takase at Streeters utilizing ADDICTION BEAUTY. Set design: Endurance Harding at New Faculty Represents. Photographic assistants: Joey Abreu and Sebastian Johnson. Styling assistants: Bella Kavanagh, Jordan Duddy, Elliot Soriano and Charlotte Ghesquiere. Make-up assistants: Aimi Osada and Miki Ishikura. Set-design assistants: Aaliyah Dominguez and Bradford Schroeder. Printing: Sarah England. Producer: Rhianna Rule. Manufacturing assistants: Jack Clarke and Peter Giang
This story options within the Spring/Summer season 2023 problem of AnOther Journal, which is on sale internationally on 23 March 2023. Pre-order right here.