‘Yarn’ makes C-Ville spin
Next Friday, Sept. 27, Brooklyn alternative country outfit Yarn sets its sights on the Southern for a night filled with flashes of Americana, folk and the undeniable charm of the golden age of rock music. I sat down with lead vocalist Blake Christiana to get a closer look into what lies behind their intricately threaded songs and the people that make them come to life.
Arts & Entertainment: I noticed Yarn hails from Brooklyn, but puts out records with unmistakable Americana influences. What’s the reason behind that?
Blake Christiana: It was a matter of upbringing. I grew up listening to my dad playing old rock n’ roll tunes around the campfire and continued listening to those albums growing up. There’s really not a lot of borders in music these days. Believe it or not, Brooklyn does have a country music scene.
AE: When I heard the name Yarn, I immediately thought of all the cool stories that come with being a touring band. Any particular ones you like to share?
BC: (laughs) I’ve been asked this question a few times before, and there’s no stock story I’ve used to answer it. We never really know what’s around the corner for us.
AE: One thing that is certainly around the corner for your band is the new album (released Sept. 10). What does it have in store for fans?
BC: The new record’s called “Shine the Light On” and we recorded it all over the country. I can’t even name or remember all the states we laid down songs in! It’s a mellow, acoustic record, definitely picks up the singer/songwriter feel from our early releases, especially 2008’s “Empty Pockets.” It’s got some more religious themes than our past records, and John [Oates] from Hall & Oates is featured on one of the songs. Rolling Stone featured one of the songs as their Download of the Day, which was pretty cool.
AE: “Shine the Light On” and “Almost Home” (Yarn’s previous full-length) featured credits from Bill VornDick, who’s produced records for everyone from Marty Stuart to Bob Dylan. What was working with him like?
BC: Man, Bill’s awesome. He’s a legend full of stories from all the artists he’s been involved with. He’s also into moonshine — good booze and stories made it a real fun time.
AE: You raised money to record “Almost Home” through the popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Given your success, do you think the music industry is headed in this direction?
BC: I don’t really know what the industry is thinking. I heard that major labels have this tendency to sign people who’ve raised over $100,000 from Kickstarter. But if independent artists can reach that level alone, why need a label? Kickstarter is a great resource for unsigned musicians to reach out to fans by giving them access to things like a studio session or their name in the album booklet. It really couldn’t have been done this easily 30 years ago.
AE: Besides Kickstarter, another cool thing I noticed is the “Morning Songs” project. What’s that all about?
BC: It all started when I was home sick in Brooklyn. Instead of visiting my family, I decided to write a song every morning when I got up and upload it to YouTube. I did it for seven days straight when I thought of the idea, but I haven’t been home for that long since. It’s pretty stressful, but I liked the challenge. People seem to dig what I’ve come up with, and the new record has versions of some of the “Morning Songs” I uploaded in the past.
AE: Over the years, it seems Yarn’s built up the impressive “Yarmy” street team. The name’s rad.
BC: (laughs) Thanks! Yeah, our manager just approached for a name for our street team. It became a clever little thing with “I Want You” Uncle Sam posters and things like that. I hope it grows into a full-on army soon.
AE: It seems like your fanbase is pretty close to becoming that. You played as a part of this year’s South by Southwest festival, were featured on CNN and won a partnership with Firefly Vodka. Is the sky the limit for Yarn?
BC: I hope so; we just need to keep going. You really never know what’s going to happen, but I’m excited to continue working to grow, doing something I love.
If this conversation sold you, check out Yarn at the Southern on Friday, Sept. 27. Tickets are $10 and doors open at 8 p.m. Don’t forget to check out the new record, “Shine the Light On,” at the show or on iTunes.