Amidst working on several interesting (for me, at least) projects and subconsciously shaping ideas for future ones, a specific short but very powerful release took me out of my focus. It urged an irresistible feeling of having to pause everything and prepare a quick jabber about it otherwise it wouldn’t let me continue.

The release I am talking about is by a band I have been extensively classifying as one of my favourite discoveries ever, full of potential to become a leading alt-rock act very soon. Today, I want to quickly express my fascination with Yonaka’s Stripped Back EP and the power of acoustic music.

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Listen to Yonaka’s Stripped Back EP
Artwork by Oz Float

When I first discovered Yonaka I was instantly charmed by the incredible music – the electrifying rock instrumentals, kickass energy, undeniable passion, and heavenly vocals delivering well-thought and impactful lyrics.

After following the band for almost a year, I got to realize there is much more than just great music and determination to the Brighton rockers. Their relationship with the fanbase is one of those extraordinary ones where you can feel the love, support, and compassion from both sides.

Yonaka interact with their supporters on a daily basis by livestreams, witty comments, shared artwork (some really talented fans they have, by the way), fun contests, and direct messaging. It won’t be extraordinary to see the band do live karaoke with fans during the said livestreams or organize fun quizzes apart from the amazing acoustic performances that go without saying. And this makes me have even higher hopes for their role in the future of rock music – they really have everything they need to make it.

Did I mention Yonaka make sick collabs?

At the beginning of May, the band announced they will be releasing a Stripped Back EP consisting of three stunning tracks from their debut full-length – Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow. The reason for the early announcement was that fans once again had a key role in it. The artwork for the cover was all up to them and everyone was free to submit their suggestions.

Most of the entries can still be seen on theband’s Instagram and I don’t need to tell you that the choice to make could not have been an easy one.

The 22nd of May was the date the awaited EP dropped and blew every expectation away. A stripped-back rendition of Guilty, Rockstar, and Bad Company could only mean an even more touching atmosphere, emotional impact, and refined sound for listeners to enjoy.

 

The choice of songs to reimagine in this particular format is far from random. I actually think the band has calculated their move carefully which has led to picking three very important songs from the debut album. Guilty, Rockstar, and Bad Company are drastically different in terms of themes but share a common emotional value and represent turbulent states of mind with undeniable importance.

Guilty explores the sincere and raw emotion of pure love and appreciation. It starts with a series of questions and building-up to a melodic chorus with a touching confessional note. The song tells a beautiful story and as powerful as it is in its original form the stripped back version just hits different.

 

Most of the people who have heard the song before would associate Rockstar with an energizing rebellious anthem empowering people to dream big and not give up on their goals. The literal rockstar energy might be stripped back from this acoustic interpretation but the power of the words and the echo of the message are strongly enhanced.

 

Bad Company is one of the tracks in Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow that I find most important and hard-hitting. Depression, anxiety, and general negative mindsets are fully exposed and challenged in a way which makes it impossible not to relate to the described feelings. Especially if they have been part of your identity for a certain period of time.

Bad Company is exactly the type of song that would be tremendously overwhelming when stripped back and maybe this is why Yonaka left it for the very end of the EP. The thoughts and emotions in question take a haunting shape and penetrated your heart and soul even stronger in this crushing variant.


I am truly convinced that acoustic versions of songs hold much more power than originals. The Stripped Back EP by Yonaka is one of the countless examples – I didn’t dare to imagine any of the songs on the album as acoustic variations (missing any effects and leaving only the vocals and minimum instrumental additions) but their value just increased dramatically. Now I can’t help but want to hear the whole Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow stripped-back.

I think the superiority of acoustic songs lies in the fewer elements and stronger focus on emotions, expression, and core messages. Everything just stands out stronger and makes emotions overflow regardless of the nature of the song. It is a powerful weapon for any artist and I am happy to see more and more graceful implementations taking over the music scene.

You can read my Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow review here


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