“Thirsty Bish”, “Sensual Cosmic”, and “Sex Robots” – favourite porno or album in 2 words? Years & Years posted this question to the fans last week while they were in Singapore.
Turns out, lead vocalist Olly Alexander, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy and keyboardist Emre Türkmen were asked to describe their album in 2 words. It would have made sense even if the trio was asked the former.
Thanks to our friends from Universal Music Malaysia, we had the chance to sit down for a chat with these talented lads about their latest album, “Palo Santo”.
During our session, Olly shared about his experience writing with established songwriters and meeting Rihanna. Years & Years also highlighted their favourite track on their latest album and suggested a list of their songs that would be perfect for a wedding event.
Check out our interview below:
The visual to the “Sanctify” music video is so captivating. How did that came about? Which was your favourite scene to shoot?
Olly: I actually found shooting the music video very hard because we only had 1 day to do it all. The bit where I dance in front of all the androids – we just had such a short amount of time and I only learned the dance routine the day before. I was really nervous with all these people watching me and I struggled to do it. But after we finished filming it, I watched 1 of the takes back and I was so happy with the way it looked and I cried.
“Hallelujah” is a track you co-wrote with Julia Michaels. What was that process like?
Olly: With “Hallelujah”, I was in LA with Greg Kurstin, who we’ve worked with before. And Greg has also worked with Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels, so they already knew each other and I’m meeting them for the first time but they’re just really lovely people. They put you at ease.
I basically just said “I wanna write a song about going to the club to dance and forgetting all your worries”. What I learned from Julia especially is how she has this way of hearing hooks that are very simple. Anything can be a hook so long as you hone it on the rhythm of the phrase. “Hallelujah” is very rhythmic because that’s what she does and does it really well, and I wanted to bring a bit of Michael Jackson vibe to it.
“Hypnotised” is one of my favourite tracks on the album because the melody is haunting yet the lyrics are hopeful. What was the inspiration behind that song?
Olly: I was reflecting on previous relationships and people in my life with quite a lot of anger because I was frustrated with exes and I had angry energy inside of me. So then, I wanted to write something that felt more hopeful cause I want to fall in love again one day. You know, that feeling of meeting someone and you just fall for them.
I wanted to write a song about that and it came about in an interesting way because Baz Luhrmann who directed the commercial wanted a brand new song and he asked me to write about anything basically. Usually I write songs about my experiences and this allowed me to be a bit more creative and imaginative about falling in love.
Olly, you recently gave Rihanna & Katy Perry a physical vinyl copy of “Palo Santo”. Did you get their feedback?
Mikey: They did not review it, no.
Emre: Imagine if Riri did a reaction video on YouTube…
Olly: That would really make my life.
Do each of y’all have a personal favourite song on this album?
Mikey: It can change depending on mood and sometimes playing live I get a different aspect of it. “Palo Santo”, for me, I loved hearing it on the record but playing it live I get a lot of the feels.
Olly: Yeah, I always get chills when we do it live.
Mikey: The crowd mesmerises it and it’s a good one to play.
If you could play 1 song from this album at your wedding, which one would it be?
Mikey: At a wedding? (laughs) Emre’s would be “If You’re Over Me”.
Emre: You already played at my wedding, remember? I said “played” – more like murdered “Memo” (from “Communion”).
Olly: And “King”. We did “King” as well.
Emre: What would you play at your wedding? “Hallelujah”? I could see some uncles dancing to that.
Olly: Well, yeah. If you don’t think too much about the lyrics. Or “Hypnotised” maybe? It’s a bit sad but romantic.
Emre: Ah, it could be the first (slow) dance.
Out of curiosity, how do you decide what goes to the main track list and how many fits into the bonus tracks?
Olly: It seemed obvious that the 11 main tracks on the album fitted together and then “Howl”, “Don’t Panic”, “Up in Flames”, – we really loved those songs but they felt slightly different somehow to the rest of the album.
Cause I like to geek out when I notice that an album has bonus tracks. Like, oh what’s this additional treasure…
Olly: Yeah exactly! Bonus tracks can be like what you said, little treasures.
Ultimately, what do you want fans to take away from this record?
Olly: I just hope it inspires somebody to feel something. Because that’s what music is to me, it inspires me.
Emre: Confidence and joy are the 2 things. It’s a confident record – I think we often use the words emancipation and liberation, I think it’s a more mature record. But essentially, just enjoyment.
Mikey: Maybe listen to it before you out, then you’ll be more confident ;)
Watch our interview with Years & Years: