Published Jul 11, 2018Asking a musician about influences is an extremely lazy question that, more often than not, yields predictable results. Yuno is a rare exception.
"I grew up listening to a lot of different kinds of music, but emo was what got me into music in general, and got me exploring instead of just listening to what was on the radio."
There is little evidence to suggest that the Jacksonville, FL native cut his teeth on bands like AFI or H.I.M. His lyrics may focus on unrequited love, but they're far from troubled — plus his production wraps them in blissful layers of warm synths and bouncy rhythms. His aesthetic is dominated by vivid pastel colours; the cover of his debut EP, Moodie, features an illustration of him giggling, and over the phone he is so laidback and blithe, it seems the intensity of emo had little effect on his personality. And yet somehow, he considers it to be a life-changing discovery.
Moodie is the product of incorporating multiple genres and styles, but it feels so far removed from emo's signature sounds — loud, cascading guitars, theatrical vocals and pained prose. We may not be able to hear its presence, but Yuno insists those traits are all within the songs.
"I guess the loud vocals, I do a lot," he says. "I started out by screaming to see how it would work, because I didn't know how to sing — and I still do that from time to time. I don't play guitar quite as much now as I used to; I'm not sure why, because it's my main instrument, but it's always in there somewhere. Like in 'No Going Back,' how there really isn't any guitar in the song, but I threw in a solo just because it felt right."
Yuno says that his music is regularly misinterpreted. These days, hip-hop tends to be his genre of choice, but even that influence, he tends to mask in his production style.
"Hip-hop is mostly what I've listened to for quite a few years now," he explains. "I feel like it does influence my music in ways that a lot of people don't notice. For instance, people would tell me that 'No Going Back' reminded them of Tame Impala, which I didn't even get. To me it sounds like either 'Hard Knock Life' or 'Anything' by JAY-Z. And there is a trap influence on the song 'Why For.' So it's in my music, but it's not always apparent, I guess."
In just six tracks, Yuno manages to cram a vivid assortment of styles into his widescreen pop music. Originally he intended Moodie to be a full-length, but after discussions with his label, Sub Pop, and A&R rep (Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces), he decided an EP would be an easier way to make the boldest statement possible.
"It's a pretty good introduction, though I kinda struggled at the beginning, trying to figure out how to put all of these ideas into one small package," he admits. "But I actually like how I was able to show different types of sounds I like to make in this sort of sampler pack."