Indie-fusion artist brings British sound to Prague

Nilüfer Yanya comes to Rock Café for a night to promote her sophomore album PAINLESS.

Ioana Caloianu

Written by Ioana Caloianu Published on 17.10.2022 15:28:00 (updated on 18.10.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Fans of indie-jazz with dark undertones have a chance to add a new entry to their playlists. This week, London native Nilüfer Yanya comes to Prague's Rock Café as part of a tour to promote her second album PAINLESS.

The London native's music incorporates her Turkish, Irish and Afro-Caribbean roots into songs that are "intricately layered and sometimes driven by electro beats," The Washington Post reports. Yanya is supported by a backing trio that consists of a drummer, a bassist and keyboardist-saxophonist Jazzi Bobbi, who also provides backing vocals during live performances.

"After several years of hitting London’s small stages and open mikes, Yanya broke through with her acclaimed 2016 EP, Small Crimes, which introduced fans to her mix of dark guitar pop with jazzy undertones and plenty of ethereal moodiness," writes.

Subsequent EPs "Plant Feed" (2017) and "Do You Like Pain?" (2018) led to widely-streamed singles like “Baby Luv” and “The Florist,” which crowned Yanya as a darling of the U.K. indie world even before her 2019 full-length debut, "Miss Universe."

Her initial love for classical piano, which she played in secondary school, later developed into one for electric guitar, courtesy of her guitar teacher, Dave Okumu of the Invisible. Her musical tastes followed a similar trajectory, starting with bands like Pixies and the Cure and later moving on to Jeff Buckley and Nina Simone, artists whom she also incorporated into her sounds.

The nearly hour-long is a "mysterious semi-conceptual album tied together by oblique snippets promoting a fake self-care program called WWAY Health," Fource notes. A fourth EP, "Feeling Lucky?," followed in 2020, and a year later, her three early EPs were collated into a compilation called Inside Out.

Her colorful sonic palette has been variously compared to Radiohead and Slade, as well as other angsty female singers, such as PJ Harvey; a cover of PJ Harvey's "Rid of Me" has been part of Yanya's setlist at recent concerts.

This year's PAINLESS, which is her sophomore release, marked a turn in her style. "Its tempos are terse, abrupt and unrelenting, mirroring the inevitability of time, a march Yanya can’t stop no matter how hard she tries," Pitchfork writes. With themes of heartbreak and rejection rearing their painful heads through the lyrics, the music is "physical," while her voice is a "tender muscle."

Yanya has been touring Britain to promote PAINLESS, and opened several dates of the 50th Anniversary tour of music legends Roxy Music.

Prague audiences, known for embracing eclectic performers, are likely to appreciate Yanya's repertoire and the diversity of her sound.

The show takes place on Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. at Rock Café, Praha. Magick/Malvina from Slovakia will open the concert. Tickets are available here.

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