Emily Ritz and Kacey Johansing have recently returned to nature… Okay, that might be a little melodramatic, but the two Bay Area musicians and best friends have relocated from San Francisco and Oakland to beach towns north of the city, which is currently the home of their latest, shared, musical venture, Yesway, whose self-titled debut LP comes out on June 3rd. I recently got a chance to catch up with the two singer/songwriters and talk about their recent relocation and upcoming release. As for the move, they explain to me that they simply wanted something new: “Just the desire for space and to be closer to nature and the ocean, but still be close enough to the city to tap into that. We both are drawn to the city, but had our fill of that.”
As for their musical histories, Kacey Johansing has been best known in recent years for her solo work, in addition to her previous work in Geographer, while Emily Ritz is an active member of DRMS. The two both, however, were members of Honeycomb, which brought them together to write and play around four years ago. I ask them what exactly brought about Yesway and Emily explains that it seemed like it just made sense for the bffs: “We got into the duo after touring together in Europe and realized the freedom in being a duo and not having a full band. While finishing college I decided Honeycomb was too much for me and I realized the potential of Yesway.” Kacey adds, “We’ve been close friends pursuing our own projects and supporting each other and Yesway was just our easiest way to support each other, as best friends.”
While the kinds of folk that the two girls are known for exploring is far from what could be considered “traditional,” Yesway sees their experimenting going even further, landing nearly in the realm of dream pop. The sound of Yesway’s debut is quite ethereal and profound. It’s soulful, but in a postmodern manner. I ask them about the process of writing and recording and they tell me that they’re really isn’t one: “It’s usually pretty organic. There’s no formula. It just happens really naturally.” Emily adds that the things that inspire them are equally fluid: “As individuals we both have different influences. I would have to say the biggest influence, the reason why we wanted to make it, was to challenge ourselves to see if we could create this musical vision we had in our heads, just something ingrained in us as creative people.”
Yesway have a few upcoming shows later this week in NYC, on Wednesday the 28th at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn and Saturday the 31st at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan. Although those are the only dates they currently have booked, they tell me that they want to tour as much as possible in 2014. They also tell me that onstage is where the project feels most comfortable: “I think our true magic comes across live. That’s when our voices and everything are really intertwined. It’s interesting to watch two people create one entity.” But they also tell me that, as excited as they are to be spreading the sounds found on their debut – which has been quite some time in the making – they’re also just as anxious for their next step.
“Here we are just at the beginning of the release and the campaign. We’ve been sitting on this record for really long and we’re just excited to get it out. We’re really proud of what we’ve done and we’re just anxious to get it out to as many people as possible but, at the same time, we’re already making plans to start working on our next album.”