Photo: Erika Saul
Photo: Erika Saul

Five Questions With… Yukon Blonde’s James Younger

After 10 years and five albums, Yukon Blonde has been characterized in a lot of different ways. The group emerged as a guitar-heavy rock outfit with a debut self-titled LP, but by the 2015’s On Blonde release, the Vancouver-based five-piece was experimenting with slick, ‘80s inspired pop elements. More recently, 2018’s Critical Hit found the band focused on atmospheres, largely ditching guitars in favour of synths and drum machines to build danceable, multi-dimensional soundscapes.

With its new album Vindicator—out Nov. 13 on Dine Alone Records, Yukon Blonde rewrites its story again, offering 11 tracks built on keyboard melodies and relaxed grooves, with psychedelic hues that are both playful and expansive.

Vindicator is also the first Yukon Blonde album written, recorded, and produced entirely by the band, taking shape in a jam space in East Vancouver, a cabin on Galiano Island and other remote locations, allowing each member to stretch creatively. Admittedly, making Vindicator by themselves was a creative risk, but it’s one the band feels definitely paid off, hence the album’s title.

To celebrate Vindicator’s release, Yukon Blonde will be hosting an Instagram Live listening party (@yukonblonde) on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST. We caught up with bassist/vocalist James Younger to find out more.

What makes Vindicator stand apart musically from your past work?

I think the big difference is just the fact that we handled every facet of this LP. We wrote, engineered, mixed and produced it, which makes it a purer distillation of our artistic vision. It is sharper in focus, in that sense. It also makes it much weirder and rougher around the edges than our previous records. I think that can only be positive when so much music around us feels packaged and sterile—you know, kind of that music made for car commercials.

Which song on the record has particularly special meaning for you?

The opening track, It's What You Are, means a lot to me because it's the greatest example of how [vocalist/guitarist] Jeff Innes and I work together.  It was written, recorded and finished in about 12 hours with no breaks and the two of us throwing all ideas at it with no fear of reprisal. There is so much in it that is beyond my personal level of ability that I could only access as part of as a team, and it's exhilarating working collaboratively like that. Well, at least when it works!

What was the biggest recording lesson you learned from past projects that you applied to making this album?

Take full control of the process.

How have you adapted to engaging with your audience during the lockdown?

Honestly, I'm not sure. For a band like us, there is zero substitution for playing live. We have done some online stuff, but I'm a little freaked out by the sheer amount of artists trying to do things online, and too often the lack of quality. 

What's your mindset looking ahead to next year and the prospect of playing live?

We can't wait! Although keeping everyone safe has to be the priority, of course.

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