Premiere: Aya Yves gets dark and personal with new single, Dear E.
The subtle, intimate new single dissects themes of addiction, loss and family ties through stripped-back pop.
Header image by Jeremy Salter.
There's a certain power in pop songwriting, and someone that's proved they're capable of harnessing that power is Canberra-based Aya Yves. Initially known under the folk-pop-aligned Vendulka pseudonym, the musician's new solo project is rich with storytelling and the emotion that can be packed within that; her work centred around creating and fuelling conversations about the world - regardless of whether that be the personal world of Aya and those around her, right through to the greater emotions being felt as a society right now - both negative and positive.
It's something that became apparent on her Pilerats-premiered debut single (in)Sanity around six months back, which saw Aya make a grand entrance with a shimmering pop production aided by Xavier Dunn (Jack River, CXLOE, Graace) elevating her lyrical cries. That time around, she sung about the complexities of early relationships and the roundabout dramas everyone could relate to in a way that felt like they were coming from a friend more than anything else, something that shined on her second major track for the year in Smart Girls.
Now, with her third track Dear E., Aya Yves is harnessing the emotional intensity of her work more-so than ever before. This time around, the typically euphoric pop backdrop of her work is reduced to nothing but a subtle haze, with Dear E. taking on a more ballad-like shape as it moves with a haunting grace that encapsulates Aya Yves' charm in a different way - one that demands you to pay attention to the lyrics above the surface, which this time around, go deeper into her life than ever before.
Dear E. is a moment of intimacy that dissects feelings close to Aya Yves throughout her life; a letter to those in her family that have experienced hardship, and a reminder that there's something on the other side that's worth fighting for - even in life's darkest moments. "I was driving to Sydney for my first co-writing session and received news that my sister had cancer,” she says on the single. “It had spread to her bones and couldn’t be treated. I was so angry at the world, so hurt."
Continuing, she explains how this life-changing moment was torn down and processed through songwriting that came immediately after. "I’d spent the last 2-3 years being my sister’s primary support person through her struggles with addiction, and we’d finally been making progress. We’d taken 2 steps forward, only for any reason to keep walking being pulled out from underneath us," she continues. "I pulled over, had a huge cry, got myself back together and kept driving.
"The next day I walked into my session with LANKS and we started laying out a bed for the track. Will asked me to do some mouth percussion, I walked up to the mic and I felt so awkward that I laughed. Hearing the laugh back - I realised just how much it sounds exactly like my sister’s. When asked what I wanted to write about, I felt like I couldn’t write about anything else, my brain was so consumed. I sat at Will’s dining table and bawled my eyes out, writing a letter about the things I wish I’d done differently.
"It’s such a hard topic, there’s so much to say - and how do you get a lifetime of love and grief into a song? And how are you meant to delve into something like that with someone you’ve just met? The thing about someone getting a terminal diagnosis is that you do your grieving whilst they’re still living, and that’s a really hard space to be in. You want to celebrate the life they’ve lived, the moments you’ve shared - and make use of the time you have left together, but at the same time there’s this overwhelming sense of hurt, of anger, of heartbreak."
As you can maybe tell, it's an incredibly powerful and cathartic moment for Aya Yves who really goes deep into the therapeutic power songwriting can hold, and in the process, elevates herself onto another level in a way that shows exactly why she's presented herself as such a force in the year ahead.
Take a dive into the track below.
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