A stolen bike. A golden cage. The coral reef where a lonely flower shop employee swims away her woes. Nilüfer Yanya has always begun tracks with intriguing mental images like these, letting her imagination run away till a hazy, dream-like story surfaces and a sparse, arresting song is born. “All my favourite music is elusive like that,” explains the hotly tipped 22-year-old, who is from West London but has Turkish, Irish and Bajan heritage. “I like songs that have stories and situations that you can almost catch, but you can’t quite ever catch properly. It’s more a vibe… a feeling.”
It may be hard to pin down the people and places in songs like Yanya’s breakout anthem ‘Baby Luv’, named one of Pitchfork’s songs of 2017 in a year that also saw her surpass 5m Spotify streams, share stages with The xx, Broken Social Scene and Mitski and win praise from The Guardian, The FADER, i-D, Noisey, Nylon and BBC 6 Music, to name a few. The reasons for her current ascent to success, however, are easy to grasp. Since her 2016 debut EP, Small Crimes, Yanya’s raw, romantic, soulful indie – hailed by the New York Times as full of “mounting intensity” and “devastating hooks” – has grown in ambition, her unique way with sumptuous melodies and evocative poetry constantly sharpening.
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