Fresh off the release of latest ballad Sorry, Fremantle folk trio Yo Yo Sun sit down with Chloe Schofield for a chat about songwriting, inspirations and the need to “lift each other up.”
Folk-pop outfit Yo Yo Sun are just days out from the release of their lovelorn ballad Sorry on streaming services, but they’re not intent on slowing down. Just two months into the new year, the Fremantle trio have already shared two singles, preceding Sorry with the equally meditative January release Retaliation, which the band described as “a dark blues for when retribution is on your mind.”
Both songs are said to form part of Yo Yo Sun’s broader release schedule throughout 2023, with Sorry offering listeners the most recent taste of what’s to come. Forefronted by Yo Yo Sun vocalist Jamie Tan’s powerhouse voice, with backing harmonies and instrumental assists from fellow bandmates Andrew Miller and Chris Chen, Sorry evokes all the regret that its titular adjective suggests.
“Have to say I’m sorry,” Tan sings as subtle guitar strums tinkle almost out of earshot, “because I’m chained.” Steeped in the kind of intimate lyrics elsewhere heard on an Adele track, the song’s message of well-intended remorse is only amplified as its repeated refrain offers tender apologies to a pained lover.
Sorry was recorded and produced by Chen in his Western Australia studio, with Miller’s acoustic guitar soundtracking the tale of a guilt-ridden romance. The track enlisted additional instrumentation from Michael Amon, who contributed a drum track all the way from Austria. Both Sorry and Retaliation add to Yo Yo Sun’s broader, years-spanning discography, which kicked off with debut album At First Light in 2019.
Planting the seeds of their folk-pop roots, At First Light is an acoustic-heavy and sunlit odyssey, populated by idyllic track titles that reflect the album’s broader radiance — from the carefreeness of Oak Tree to the ascendance of Universes. Yo Yo Sun’s more recent studio effort, Sunrise in You, arrived last year, and features the single and album standout Come Back to Bed.
With more releases on the horizon and a Cottesloe gig booked for next month, the trio sat down with fellow WA musician Chloe Schofield for a deep-dive into artistry, live performances and the inception of Yo Yo Sun. Schofield’s own body of work, the four-track EP Street Dog, arrived in 2021.
Chloe: What came first? the Yo Yo or the Sun?
Yo Yo Sun: The yoyo is the sun, it’s that hopeful feeling, sun keeps on going up and down and we get more. More sunrises and sunsets and chances, more possibilities.
Chloe: How did you all meet ?
Yo Yo Sun: We met through music, we’d all been in bands and Andrew and Jamie had a jam and it just clicked. We really wanted to collaborate with Chris after being big fans of his music for so long, so we asked him to join us. We were pretty nervous but he said yes. We think the dynamic works.
Chloe: Who’s the boss ?
Yo Yo Sun: We all got BDE in different areas, it works well that way. We know what our strengths are so we refer to that person if it’s their time to shine, they boss.
Chloe: Tell me about your creative process as a band, and who are your inspirations.
Yo Yo Sun: Like a lot of bands we are friends, the creative part comes from trust and vulnerability. We are also all health clinicians so I think that the existential, human element really features in our songs, we try to write about our experiences, emotions, and things we are reflecting on.
The mystery that manifests in songs comes from a resonance in the energy between people. And we have that energy between us and we tend to lift each other up and balance each other out. We also have the best drummer in the world, Michael Amon, who lays out the beats from Austria, we love his work! And our good friend Carolyn White does our album art, so it takes a community.
Chloe: You recently released a banging soulful new single called Retaliation. Who’s retaliating? and against what?
Yo Yo Sun: Songwriting is like a dream and if you don’t catch it then it floats away. Jamie was in the shower and someone had left an elastic band in there and there was this line “like an elastic band snapping back, all the force saved up in that…retaliation” that felt like a kind of dark, blues catalyst. Andrew and Chris fleshed it out and then we had a story.
Chloe: Who has the most annoying habit?
Yo Yo Sun: Most annoying habit is Chen’s ability to hear everything and be really critical but it’s also the best thing because it refines us and makes us better.
Chloe: What is your most favourite live show you’ve ever played and why?
Yo Yo Sun: We played a big old decommissioned church in Freo and it felt reverential and the acoustics were beautiful, naturally reverberating sounds. And the organisers Regan and Jono of Suburban Vibes run these incredible gigs where they set up the culture to listen, to pay attention and as a musician, there isn’t a greater gift, not money (although you know, it’s nice) or fame, just someone listening to your music with receptiveness and joy. And the sound duo of Tom and Illish are the best we’ve worked with, they just make us feel loved and held, musically.
Chloe: What is next for Yo Yo Sun? And where can we buy a Yo Yo Sun yo-yo?
Yo Yo Sun: We keep putting out our music into the universe and hoping people hear us, listen on any major platform, and we are hoping to tour soon. On March 16th we have a Suburban Vibes gig supporting Alivan Blu and fundraising Ocean Heroes, this great charity that teaches neurodiverse kids to access the sea. It’s at Cottesloe, overlooking the sea, if you are in WA come check it out. You can follow us on Instagram and we will randomly DM new followers and send merch.
Yo Yo Sun’s Sorry and Retaliation are out now. Keep an eye out for the trio’s forthcoming release due out this year.