Yvette Younger: Singer, Songwriter, and Storyteller

Picture by Jack Lue

As seen in Guitar Woman Journal Problem 21 – Fall 2022

Musician and songwriter Yvette Younger makes use of her music not solely as a type of self-expression but in addition tells riveting tales via her artwork. Born and raised in San Jose, California, Younger spent numerous her childhood taking part in the piano and violin. It wasn’t till later, throughout a prolonged battle with anorexia, that she began expressing her inventive imaginative and prescient via the guitar. “I really feel like guitar actually reworked my relationship with myself,” Younger shares. She has been very open about her struggles and overcoming obstacles. “I didn’t actually have numerous pals at school. I didn’t know what I needed to do till I began taking part in guitar. I didn’t actually know a lot about myself and had very low confidence. Then after I began taking part in the guitar, I felt extra like myself.” 


Within the math rock band Covet, Younger is joined by bassist David Adamiak and drummer Forrest Rice. The trio are at present engaged on new music which they hope to launch by the top of this 12 months or early 2023. She tells us, The general theme is like some sort of conclusion or some sort of catharsis or one thing like that. As a result of I believe this file would be the final one I do with the lineup I’ve, and it’s bittersweet however completely obligatory. It feels prefer it’s an finish to one thing. However it doesn’t imply no extra music’s going to return out. It’s like that is the top of a chapter, however the subsequent one’s going to be higher.”

When discussing musical influences, Younger shared with us, “I simply needed to be in a band . . . I didn’t know something about guitarists, and I’m studying now retroactively. Steve By way of’s music is so cool. Van Halen, Rush. A enjoyable truth about me is I grew up tremendous sheltered, and I wasn’t allowed to hearken to something besides classical music and hymns rising up. So I skipped the rock world, which is loopy. Prefer it was horror music, and now I’m revisiting that. Once I first discovered rock and roll, I used to be like, that is sick. After which I acquired into Midwest emo and post-rock and grunge. I listened to numerous Minus the Bear, Grown Ups, Tera Melos, TTNG, American Soccer, and Toe — that’s the sort of stuff that I acquired into whereas I used to be studying guitar.

However previous to that, I actually beloved good songwriting. By means of all of the stuff I used to be into rising up, the frequent denominator can be simply good songwriting music. I acquired into bands like Copeland in highschool. Deer within the Headlights was an enormous one for me. I’m obsessed. And I nonetheless am obsessive about this band known as Mew; they’re so cool as a result of they took like progressive rock parts and packaged them up on this indie pop sound. No one actually can inform that they’re doing all this spectacular modulation stuff, nevertheless it’s simply so dancey, and it’s so cool. And the way in which they symbolize themselves visually aligns so nicely with their music. I actually can not consider one other band that appears like them.”

Expression is one thing that Younger believes is a vital a part of making music. It isn’t simply writing notes to make the music however telling tales via her music. She goes into element about her songwriting course of, how she breaks down music, and what evokes her to maintain creating. From the tales she tells via her guitar to her illustrations, Yvette Younger creates tales together with her music that resonate together with her viewers with its dreamy sound.

“It made me really feel so entire in life. I felt so empty with out it earlier than I knew methods to play.”

Picture by Jack Lue

Yvette Younger on her background and the way she found the guitar.

I’m born and raised in San Jose, California. My mother and father had been each from Beijing, China, so I’m a primary technology. I grew up taking part in classical piano and violin. Lots of my relations had been all like live performance pianists, and I used to be positively sort of happening that route. I performed in a bunch of orchestras after I was in highschool and center college. However lengthy story quick, issues at residence had been turbulent, and it was simply numerous strain for me to continuously — I simply didn’t actually get an opportunity to be a child. I didn’t actually get to decide on something for myself. And I believe the strain of getting to satisfy different folks’s expectations and reside for different folks sort of acquired to me, and I developed an consuming dysfunction. I used to be anorexic for in all probability 5 to 6 years of my life. I needed to cease every part — I used to be pulled out of college. 

It was throughout this time that I used to be like, I wanna play guitar. I wasn’t allowed to do schoolwork or have any kind of extracurricular strain. So I began and taught myself after I was recovering within the hospital. My mother and father acquired me a Martin acoustic — I nonetheless have that acoustic — it’s one in every of my favorites. 

The entire aim as an inpatient at this consuming dysfunction therapy place was to give attention to my restoration. And a part of my restoration was artwork remedy. I’ve at all times beloved portray. And instructing myself guitar ended up being a terrific outlet for me as a result of I might convey my emotions in lyrics, which I wrote on the time. I used to be simply noodling round on guitar, attempting to study different songs that I appreciated, but in addition attempting to determine methods to write my very own music as a result of that’s at all times been my main curiosity. 

Once I acquired discharged from that therapy program, I ended up actually loving guitar. Once I went to varsity, I double majored in schooling and high-quality arts as a result of I needed to be a instructor. I simply love the concept of music and artwork as an outlet as a result of that’s what it did for me.

I really feel just like the guitar actually reworked my relationship with myself. I at all times inform folks the guitar saved my life. It appears like hyperbole or some sort of exaggeration, however I actually do strongly imagine that if I didn’t have the guitar, shifting myself price from perhaps how I appeared or how my mother and father perceived me to love the issues I might create with my fingers and my thoughts, I believe I wouldn’t be within the more healthy place that I’m now.

I do know that sounds very hipster, however for me, it’s identical to I’m not nice at being in public — it’s not like my dream or something. What’s loopy is being in a touring band was by no means my dream. I at all times simply needed to be like, I don’t know, a painter, a tattoo artist, a t-shirt designer, or one thing the place I’m serving to others. However one actually cool factor that’s occurred is I really feel like I acquired gifted this glorious place the place I’m within the public eye, the place I get to encourage folks to choose up a guitar and discover an outlet in music and use music as a therapeutic expertise. That’s one thing that I really feel actually grateful for. I believed I might be instructing, however I believe life, the universe, or no matter had different plans. 

Yvette Younger on guitar as a therapeutic device.

Properly, I get numerous youthful folks saying that they didn’t assume they might play guitar or had been at all times intimidated by it. I acquired put on this virtuosic class, which could be very, very flattering, however I don’t even think about myself notably virtuosic. I don’t even know what I’m doing as a result of I taught myself, so I believe it’s cool. Lots of people assume to play guitar, it’s a must to shred or have this rockstar angle. First, I believe being a rockstar is simply proudly owning your self and your selections. It’s all about simply going for one thing that’s scary and unconventional, proudly owning your decision-making, and being assured in that path. Lots of people come as much as me and say, “I didn’t assume I might as a result of I believed that you just needed to be this shred particular person, or it’s all guys.” I’ve numerous women coming as much as me saying, “I believed it was simply an all-guy factor.”

I used to place numerous strain on myself to have to write down stuff that was actually shred. Now I notice that the entire foundation behind taking part in guitars is it’s enjoyable and this glorious, expressive outlet slightly than a strategy to compete in opposition to different folks. 

I don’t assume I’ve been fully modified. I believe there are elements of me that needed to die, and there are elements of me which have grown loads. And if something, I really feel like I’ve a clearer imaginative and prescient of what I need to do with artwork. I at all times knew that I needed to assist folks. I at all times knew that I needed to maintain the gospel of how artwork and music can rework your life, and I used to be attempting to do it with instructing, however now I believe I’m simply alleged to make music and attempt to make folks actually completely satisfied.

I’ve needed to discover ways to be extra social — I used to be extra shy earlier than. I’ve additionally needed to discover ways to make troublesome selections. Undoubtedly, I don’t assume I’ve ever performed it too protected, and taking dangers has been scary, nevertheless it’s at all times been useful for me. 

Yvette Younger on her songwriting course of.

My background is in portray and drawing, so after I sit down and write, I’ve a coloration or a temper, or a narrative in thoughts. It’s like, the place’s this location I’m attempting to take folks to with my music? Typically I begin with an impact like mm-hmm mixture results. After which I’m like, oh, this, this sounds prefer it’s on this mystical forest. So I’ll write a melody that helps carry that temper or setting to life.

Different occasions I need to inform a narrative of this evil king or no matter, after which I’ll write a melody that goes via an entire character arc. I work in principally alternate tunings and sing or hum every part first. I’m like, oh, I like this melody. After which, I train myself the melody on the entrance board with out figuring out methods to play it — I simply use my ear to seek out it. It’s a sluggish and laborious course of. I really feel like I’m not likely the perfect jammer, however I can write for days. 

And on the finish of the day, I believe it’s as a result of I come from a classical world like I’m used to composing. The distinction between jamming and composition is that composition is simply jamming with decision-making factored in. By some means this magic factor occurs the place on the finish, I’m like, how did I write a tune?

I do hear stuff in my head. Typically I’ll be like, oh, that’d be so cool if there’s melody, so I’ll simply hum it. After which generally I’ll be driving or one thing, and I’ll put it in my voice memo on my telephone. Then I’ll go residence and construct off of that. So most of the time, it comes from inside my head, after which I translate that to the entrance board, however generally I unintentionally play one thing cool. And I’m like, oh wait, what was that? After which I’ll spend 5 hours attempting to extrapolate on that one factor I did accidentally. 

Each tune begins with simply the guitar. Then when the guitar half is ninety-five to 100% performed, my drummer will put drums to it. There’s some stuff happening with my bass participant, so I mainly wrote all of the bass for the final file. I’m additionally working with a session man as a result of after I play bass, it appears like a guitar particular person taking part in bass! So I herald my concepts and ask what he thinks, after which he’ll put it via a bass lens filter.

Yvette Younger on connecting with listeners via her music. 

I believe it varies from tune to tune, however general — just like the final file and the file earlier than —I used to be going via actually troublesome transformational intervals in my life, and I wanted consolation. And for me, music has at all times been consolation. So I’m hoping that the music appears like an enormous reassuring hug. I like optimism. I might say some, not each tune, is especially optimistic, however I believe deep beneath it, there’s like this sense of an unconditional love I need to convey. Even when it’s a tragic tune or one thing that feels sort of painful, I don’t need folks to depart feeling damaging.

It’s like this therapeutic factor. I can relate to this tune as a result of it’s not all completely satisfied, and that’s life. Life isn’t simply achievements and victories. Typically you get setbacks, and it’s sort of enjoyable to attempt to make music that’s all-encompassing and music that has this depth to it. It’s a cool problem, and it appears like I’ll by no means get 100% good at it. It’s a lifelong aim, however we will attempt to get shut. 

And particularly, it feels loopy after I play a tune to somebody, they usually’re like, “That made me really feel like clean.” After which I’m like, “That’s precisely what I needed, or that’s precisely what I used to be considering. That’s so cool that you just heard that.” That’s the facility of music. It may rework how you’re feeling — not solely as a listener however when you’re taking part in it. There have been so many occasions after I’ve been depressed as hell. And I write one thing that I need to sound like a comforting hugger to uplift. And after I play it, I’m in a greater temper. 

Yvette Younger on discovering inspiration.

Lots of people are like, “I gotta be unhappy to write down songs,” however I really discover that I favor making music after I’m like mentally wholesome. However it’s a nice outlet for me when I’m feeling down, too. So having music be an outlet and an extension of my inside self; that’s inspiration. I like to write down music that’s therapeutic, like a reassuring hug. This sounds so foolish, nevertheless it’s my deep take care of others that evokes that. Additionally, my love for storytelling. 

I used to write down after I was strolling residence from college. A extremely enjoyable truth is I used to have actually debilitating OCD, and I must do the identical factor again and again. Like going residence from college generally took two hours as a result of I might stroll, and I’d must do the identical issues time and again. And it might be this annoying course of the place if I did one thing unsuitable, I needed to begin over.

So one factor that has actually helped me was listening to music as a result of it distracted my OCD mind. Then I might think about music movies and tales or motion pictures that will match the songs that I used to be listening to. And so I really feel like now, as somebody who doesn’t have that anymore, music continues to be a really visible factor for me. So after I write, I’m very impressed by visible artwork and simply visuals basically. So like motion pictures, work, costumes, trend, I believe it’s all this stunning, cohesive factor that’s simply ready to be expressed. 

Yvette Younger on her gear.

I overuse the refrain — I believe refrain is the best impact as a result of you should utilize it dramatically, like a refrain vibrato. You possibly can max out the depth and the speed and have it sound so seasick and wobbly and Lo-fi sounding, however then you may also sound just like the Police. You possibly can even use refrain to fatten up distortion or add a little bit little bit of width. Like you may make simply issues sound huger when you’ve gotten refrain. I believe it’s simply one of the helpful, versatile, and enjoyable results. 

After which, I like delay. Delay is a kind of issues the place I really feel prefer it simply takes one thing from sounding flat to sounding prefer it’s like fireworks or blooming. 

As a result of I come from a visible arts background, for me, melodies are sort of like a black-and-white drawing that I sketch out, after which results are sort of like elements that I selectively coloration in on the drawing to assist it come to life. And I really feel like my writing course of with results could be very very like that. I take into consideration the place within the tune wants a little bit little bit of coloration, after which I’m like, okay, what results would work there

My joke “Yvette Younger Starter Pack” tone factor can be some sort of tube amp, stereo refrain, perhaps a delay — one which’s refined — I like refined delay. You should use it instead of reverb, and I really feel it provides a little bit extra character to the decay. Then I like actually dramatic delay the place you should utilize it rhythmically. I like a very good EQ achieve pedal that to sort of form my tone. Any kind of achieve pedal the place there’s built-in EQ is an enormous optimistic to me.

I exploit numerous Walrus and numerous Caroline Guitar Firm results — they’re actually enjoyable. Digital Audio Experiments make my favourite achieve. I like fuzz — I simply acquired into the fuzz recreation mad late, however higher late than by no means. It’s a lot enjoyable. Meris makes my favourite reverb, the Mercury 7. Everybody at all times asks me about my Hologram Microcosm. That one’s a extremely distinctive, attention-grabbing pedal. It’s so versatile — actually stunning for ethereal soundscapes and whatnot. One other a part of my sound is the OC 5 Octave pedal, which I exploit loads now. BOSS makes some actually cool, cool pedals — simple to make use of.

I might say that I nonetheless haven’t achieved my dream rig proper now. I’m within the means of attempting to make half my stuff stereo, and I’m additionally attempting to run some issues for after I file. Once I file, I run stuff parallel in order that the readability is preserved, however I haven’t been ready to try this in my library but; I’m attempting to work with sign splitters and stuff. 

If I had to decide on only one pedal, I might cheat and say a multi-effects pedal, like a Helix or one thing. However my sensible reply is a tuner or compressor. And delay is enjoyable to play with simply because it will possibly enliven your taking part in. And a little bit little bit of refrain too. I really feel like these two results are actually enjoyable beginning factors if you wish to write with a little bit character. 

For guitars, I play my signature Talmans from Ibanez, they usually’ve acquired these customized Seymour Duncan pickups in them. For amps, I exploit an AC30 reside and AC10 at residence, and I lately acquired a JC-40, which I’m obsessive about. Shout out, Roland. 

Yvette Younger on guitar picks.

I solely use a choose after I’m doing tremolo choosing for a background factor within the studio. I performed piano first, so I really feel extra related to my guitar if I’ve a direct connection to it with my fingers. I’m really so horrible with a choose. It’s hilarious! Nevertheless, generally in sure elements of a tune the place I would like extra assault, I’ll really use my nail — I’ll like make a select of my nail and choose with that, if that is sensible.

Yvette Younger on her guitar as a non secular extension. 

I positively really feel like I don’t know the place this music comes from. It actually nonetheless appears like a loopy magic trick each time I write. I simply taught at a songwriting camp, and I needed to convey to everybody who needed to write down their very own music which you could’t pressure creativity to occur. However what you are able to do is you possibly can attempt every single day. The extra often you train that muscle, the extra persistently you should utilize it.

Once I’m attempting to write down, I sit down every single day, and I really feel prefer it’s problem-solving to me. I can’t describe how I really feel, nevertheless it’s like I sort of enter right into a trance, and eight hours can simply cross with out me consuming or consuming — simply attempting to chase this melody; it appears like chasing one thing. I don’t know what it’s gonna appear like but, however as I fumble via the darkness, I sort of discover it. However I additionally really feel like there’s this logical a part of my mind that’s being activated, and that’s identical to attempting to downside remedy and attempting to determine how am I gonna get this factor I hear in my head to translate to my fingers. So yeah, I assume it’s sort of non secular, and it appears like a magical factor that I can do.

Yvette Younger on recording methods. 

Once I’m within the studio, I entrust every part to the engineer. I write every part for the band, so I’ve a really clear image of what I need to sound like as a result of I demo all of it. I simply realized methods to file over quarantine. I was afraid of it, nevertheless it modified my life after I realized how as a result of now I can carry the recording engineer the completed tune and say that is what I need to do. After which, we will go from there and translate that within the studio.

Yvette Younger on her follow routine. 

I’m terrible at training — I don’t follow sufficient — I’m just like the worst guitarist. I say that as a result of each time I sit down and write, I don’t know methods to play it but. However I get higher at guitar each time as a result of I’ll spend 5 hours instructing myself a riff. It’s like I’m training whereas I’m writing, which is sort of loopy. To get efficiency prepared. I play every part half-time as a result of true mastery —generally, if you play actually quick, you BS your approach via, so it’s actually necessary to have readability in what you play and play it as sluggish as attainable and nonetheless be capable of end the tune. I attempt to guarantee that I’m not BSing and taking part in solidly. I’m really taking part in each observe. 

So I might say to prepare for gigs, follow your songs at half-time, and in addition follow leaping in at random factors since you by no means know when one thing’s going to occur. And for individuals who have to begin over each time they mess up, it’s like, oh, that’s not gonna fly in a present setting. So it’s good to follow determining a very good place to enter the tune. Simply mainly attempting to account for something happening reside. 

Yvette Younger on performing reside versus being within the studio? 

I at all times say that between writing, taking part in, and performing, my favourite is writing. Then, second place is recording and taking part in, after which performing is my least favourite one. 

Not too long ago one of many rock and roll issues that I realized was to desert my classical perfectionist mindset and study that a part of a enjoyable present is when s–t goes unsuitable, and also you get well from it, otherwise you make do with what you had been dealt. Typically there’s stuff out of your management, and it’s a must to roll with the punches. I had a present lately the place my amp blew up midway via the set, and I needed to borrow a random amp I had by no means used earlier than. I didn’t know what I used to be doing on that amp, however I completed the set, and it was humorous, and everybody remembered that present simply because my amp died.

One other factor I ended up studying to like about performing is seeing how completely satisfied it makes folks. Once I first began taking part in, I didn’t need to take a look at the viewers as a result of it made me nervous. However now that I’ve been at it a number of years, I really fairly take pleasure in searching. And I see numerous women and people who find themselves Asian — it’s an enormous deal for me as a result of rising up and going to reveals, Asian folks didn’t go to rock reveals. It’s simply sort of uncommon; we’re the stereotype within the classical world. Rock reveals are too rowdy. However it’s cool as a result of I see half the gang is women, and a very good portion of them are Asian. I get actually completely satisfied and stoked seeing that and seeing how completely satisfied everyone seems to be; it’s contagious. And I’m like, you understand what, who cares that I’m tousled? Persons are having enjoyable.

Picture by Jack Lue

I believe the entire level in passing down the guitar torch is that if I make it appear like this troublesome ego-filled factor, then it’s not encouraging. Individuals don’t need to play guitar when it seems unapproachable and inaccessible. But when I sit up there and dance and have enjoyable, I believe that’s one of the simplest ways to get folks to need to choose up guitar.