Yellow Days is the 17-year-old matching melancholic melodies and soulful vocals.
17-year-old (yes, he’s only 17…) George van den Broek is the bedroom writer and producer that harnesses his experience of odd and confusing times – which are plentiful when you haven’t even hit 18 yet – and overwhelming emotions that complicate matters and muddle feelings, to create an emotional soul and blues sound that he’s been releasing inklings of to the internet for the past year. With intricate grooves and hints of 80s-influence synth work, Yellow Days’ abstract sound and evocative lyrics reels you in, with a lovelorn longing tapping into emotions you never knew you had.
Now, with his 7-track EP “Harmless Melodies” having hit the airwaves, Yellow Days is proving his skill as an artist and producer, using his weathered, King Krule-like vocals to explore the last three years of his life, from the last time he spent with his first love (so bittersweet) to a depressive pessimistic attitude that he can’t shake. Hedonistic, with an underlying layer of slight sadness, Yellow Days’ sound hits at the darker side of blues to create tracks full of raw honesty and melancholic melodies that clutch at your heartstrings.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
I remember getting my first acoustic guitar when I was like eleven and I was so psyched. I didn’t know how to play anything, but I remember just making little smoke on the water type guitar bits and singing on top for the whole day.
Has creating music always been a way of life for you?
I’ve been writing music since I was about 13/14 and initially it was just fun but over time I started needing it as like a way of dealing with stuff that happens. I think now I’ve written about most things that have gone on in my life and I’ll just continue doing this until things stop happening .
What’s your experience been like entering the scene as someone so young?
Everyone in my family are like roughly 10 years+ older than me, so I’ve always tried to act older than I am and I think people have treated me that way. But yeah it’s been fine, been surrounded by good people who look after me and all.
Your sound is tough to pin down; it’s almost got a soulful, bluesy quality to it that makes it timeless. What do you think influences it?
I think if there’s a soul and blues aspect to what I do that’s probably the influence of Ray Charles, he’s an idol of mine and I’ve always seen him as the pinnacle of raw and emotional music. There’s something about the structure to his songs and the relationship between the voice and the instrumentation that just speaks to me on a deep level.
What are your favourite instruments to work with?
I started music with a guitar but essentially it’s always been about playing something to sing on top of for me. I rarely play guitar for a different reason. I’ve grown to love piano and synths but yeah guitar has always been my instrument and I think it’s where I work best from in terms of songwriting
“I remember getting my first acoustic guitar when I was like eleven and I was so psyched. I didn’t know how to play anything, but I remember just making little smoke on the water type guitar bits and singing on top for the whole day.”
Your tracks are pretty emotional/evocative. How do you transfer a feeling into a song?
It might be the way I was brought up or just how it’s happened but I’ve always been an emotional kid with a lot going on in my head. I think I was brought up to be open and honest, to say how I feel and I basically just feel the feeling whilst I write and leave nothing behind in the lyrics or performance.
What’s your creative process like? Do you like sticking to a certain method or do you just let things happen?
I usually start messing around on a guitar, on keys or on a bass and work out a melody or progression and then the vocal comes after, I figure out a structure and then I begin recording and producing, which makes it becomes stronger and a finer version. Although there have been occasional times I’ve done it differently that’s the way I usually write
Your music is honest. How do you get to a place where you’re willing to put yourself out there like that as an artist?
Honesty in music for me is what it’s about, the way I see it is that every song expresses a certain time or feeling, and all the music is doing is expressing that emotion boiling in your chest. I find music beautiful because there’s something so pointless but yet so important about it. I think that’s because music is similar to emotion. We’re all just emotional beings sat round listening to each other’s emotions, I think that’s fucking brilliant
The video for “Your Hand Holding Mine” is stunning, can you talk a little about the inspiration behind it?
Yeah it was mad, it’s obviously my first music video so was huge for me, really enjoyed it. The meaning behind the song is a whirlwind of emotions as I begin living life without my first love, and the video reflects that but in a slightly different way as I chase after the camera in a sort of depressed state confessing the weirdness and sadness within me.
There’s an underlying sadness to your tracks but also a sense of peace and acceptance. Personally speaking, where do you think this type of wisdom comes from?
I used to be sort of hedonistic and did what I wanted to whenever I wanted to do something, and I just wanted to make a splash. As I grew up I realised that if you make too big a splash people get wet. I think I’m slightly manic depressive and I think about everything too much and at times I’ve hated the world and at others I’ve loved it. I think I came to realise that nothing really has any point to it and that everything is sort of meaningless, but not to say I won’t do my best and make the most of what’s in front of me. Now life for me is sort of mixture of depressive pessimistic and hopeful ambition- and if that comes out in my music that’s cool – means I’m doing something right.