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The Crackle: Finding Harmony with yonderling

Chatting with the ATL duo.

29th Jun 2019

Collaboration is essential to music.

Whether it’s sending steam back and forth or a band settling down for a jam, the push and pull of partnership is a key driving force in the creation of unique, powerful music. One group that understand this pull better than most is yonderling. Coming out of the state of Georgia, this duo has been carefully crafting their sound for over a year and have quickly become one of the most influential groups in the scene. With a solid back catalogue and lots more coming in the future, we took some time to have a chat with yonderling. 

So, I wanted to start off talking about Sun Room and Night Room with Feverkin. How did this partnership come about?

Lindsey: I guess it could go as far back as a long time ago. Basically we just kind live near by and met up and it wasn’t really planned to have a collaboration we were just hanging out.

Tolik: I met him back in college and he was kind of weirded out by me haha. He would always say that I was really intense apparently. I actually paid him for mixing lessons because he lived like six or seven minutes away. He taught me how to mix. Like how to be a better engineer. I really like his mixes and I liked his engineering. So, I just hit him up and we did a few lesson sessions and I met him at a coffee shop with another friend and like he was curious about what I was doing. Then Lindsey and I released ‘Traverser’ and I told Adam about it and he was psyched! And so I went over to his house and we became fast friends. We started handing out a lot. it was never an intention of ours to like to do a collab, but we were just hanging out a lot and that was what we did.

So, you just kind of came out naturally, you’d say?

T: Yes, exactly.

Then it’s kind of like a natural connection that had been building for a few years.

T: Yes. I mean Feverkin has a really strict vetting process. So, he’s been in the game for a long time and I think Lindsey and I have been doing yonderling for what? A year and a half now? and He’s been doing the same project Feverkin for like seven years or so. So, he has a really nailed process of how he does collabs and all that. I guess we slipped through the cracks locally somehow haha. Feverkin is a good friend of mine and he just moved away, so I have like a soft spot for our friendship, I guess right now. 

I get that. On a personal note Nightshift’ is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard.

T: Thank you.

It’s like really sublime blend between melancholy but then there’s also like this kind of sense of joy with it. It’s a strange feeling.

T: I can answer exactly that. So, the reason that song came about, was Feverkin and I always hung out at night.

L: Really, at extremely late hours.

T: And both of us are extreme night owls where we’d stay up until 7am. That song just conveys the exact feeling of how we feel living in suburbia in Woodstock. It’s like super-comforting but you’re always questioning your existence there. That’s what brings by that melancholic thing. But you’re comfortable, so it’s that joy of being comfortable and having everything within arm’s reach, having good vibes and good experiences regardless of where you’re at.

So, that track was made really late at night and it was sort of to express the kind of shifting of your mental energy whenever it gets dark. You have this shift and you think in a different way and nostalgia plays a big part in that as well.

I think it makes perfect sense that, that song would come out of these circumstances.

T: Yes, definitely and another funny little titbit about that track in particular. Feverkin and I (me in particular) have got I’m kind of butthurt about guitar in general and the experience I have with guitar and stuff because I was like a session guitar player at one point. That didn’t work out. So, I was always butthurt. So, Feverkin and I super-analysed all of the playing and it was like playing guitar from a completely different perspective where you weren’t kind of a guitar player, just kind of in a sense making fun of guitar and trying to see how far we could go one way and…

I know what you mean. When you break it down to that kind of analytical level, you sort of see these simple things that may have alluded you before. When you put it together, you’re like, oh, actually it’s becoming something great. 

T: Exactly. And we played that together, the two guitar parts. That’s something I’ve always loved to do is. Playing guitar with someone else, two guitarists, and then you harmonise. And you can do that in the simplest ways. Like Lindsey and I even do it. She’s not like a guitar player, but a lot of the guitar playing on yonderling, is done by her 

What is your creative process when you’re working together as yonderling. How do you think it maybe differs from when you’re doing solo production? 

L: I think it was only that day (when we recorded ‘Nightshift’) that we realised that the one thing that is always the same is that guitar somehow always comes in to it. Sometimes it’s the starting point for a track and sometimes it’s not. It can either be original melody that we’re just toying around with. Maybe we have a jam session and it turns in to a song. Sometimes we’ll start off sampling something and from there realise we don’t’ really care for the sample so much anymore, but we like the idea, the original vibe that it had. That’s the starting point and so we’ll replicate that with guitar or with keys or another instrument.

But, yes, as far as learning how to work together, it’s just about trust. Sometimes one of us will say, this is the idea, this is what we should chase and kind of go down the black hole with it. And then you just say, okay sure, let’s go and then you sort of dive in and go as fast as each other.

T: Adding to that (as far as process goes), if you’ve messed around in Ableton or whatever it’s a single player video game basically. So when you’re a duo there’s a lot of like head butting that can occur and it does come down to trust I guess.

L: I think it’s also letting the other person do what they’re best at.

Yeah it must be a hard balancing act because if you as an individual feel very strongly about an idea and the other person’s not vibing with it that may cause some tension. It must be quite hard to compromise on that difference and keep it civil.

T: Yes, keeping it civil is really important. Especially for me. But I will say that from the start of the yonderling, most of musical aesthetic and sort of creative sound, palette choices and all that. That was all Lindsay’s kind of thing and I was just kind of seeing how we could make it a reality. And later on, I kind of started adding a lot more of myself, but initially it was mostly Lindsey’s idea. So, I was just making the things come true. And we were putting both of our heads together to make those ideas come true.

And like, Lindsey’s a lot bigger on the big picture side. So, she can see the big picture a lot quicker than I can. I’m like super into details. I like going deep and programming stuff. Getting the little details right, get the little sound choice I want

I guess you kind of find your harmony with it because if you’ve got a good creative partnership with someone then disagreements come from the same motivation to make a great piece of art. It means that you’re challenging yourself creatively 

L: Right. It sort of tests the limits and takes it to the next level when you come up with new ideas because if somebody’s not vibing with one thing, you say okay, well what about this. And so you get a lot of true alternatives.

In terms of inspiration, where does that come from for the pair of you?

T: Initially the inspiration for me was Lindsey’s ideas. I liked that she had her own set of types of music that she was into and all that. And initially like I said, I was really trying to make these ideas she had a reality. I tried to keep my inspirations out of it initially. That was the thing for me. I needed to clear my head of a lot of things. I was listening to a lot of wave and I was stuck in that realm and I like to get out because that’s a dark, black, satanic hole you should never melt into.

L: I think it’s easy to get lost listening to other people’s stuff. I’ll go through a binge of being a really hard core listener of other music and then I’ll realise, yes, I should maybe not listen to anything. And then I think that’s when I feel better about when we work on our music, because then you’re not comparing so much.

T: Also I thinkInspiration for me, and I guess for Lindsey would be like plants, going on walks and such. Plants mainly. Being outside like nature in general. Just natural things, plants and greenness would be inspiration.

Do you find your inspirations are staying the same as you grow, or morphing more into a feeling of, okay, how does this fit into the makeup of what we’re doing?

T: 100%.

L: Yes. I think you want to stay true to what originally inspired you to create but at the same time, I like exploring new sounds. I think that’s the appeal of the guitar is for me. I’m not really a guitar player, so it’s that thing where I don’t know what I’m doing, so it’s really exciting. I think inspiration for me comes a lot of times from guitar because it’s open-ended.

Because it’s open-ended, there’s so much more to explore. Everything is an option. Do you see what I mean?

L: Yes, exactly. I might not know how to play something in my head, but I can sample it to sound the way that I want. You can turn a guitar into a pad background or it can be the main thing that you hear in a piece of music.

T: But I will say on background to inspirations and stuff like that. Like, initially I was just trying to make Lindsey’s ideas come true, but eventually the stuff that you’ve listened to or you were highly influenced by, it’s going to come out. You’re going to hear it and then you’re going to chase that idea more. I think that’s a valid process because I think there’s a important reason why you’re hearing those things within your own music. It’s because you like it. You like those little melodies. And they’re nostalgic for you.

It’ll put you on a nostalgic trip and that’s always a great vibe. It’s important to chase those little ideas that you hear, that you’ve been influence by subliminally. For me I would hear those melodies and say them out loud and now it’s like off-limits thing for Lindsey now. Like for me to tell her what the melody is from because she’ll play something and I’m like, oh that’s dope it sounds like, and then I’ll be silent because I don’t want her to know that it was like Weezer or some bullshit band from the 90’s haha.

Who would you say your guys’ major influences are?

L: I think what’s interesting about working together is that we both have kind of different influences. But in a way, we both share the kind of passion for finding stuff that is sort of left field. So, we might have the same artist that we listened to growing up, or whatever, but we both like to find obscure or less listened to sounds. So, for me, I listen to a lot of ambient, those sorts of sounds. Beach House is definitely a big influence for me too.

T: Well it’s interesting because Lindsey, you were saying we didn’t listen to the same music but I think we listen to a lot of the same music. To me that’s what started the duo in general because we were like vibing out on the same stuff. Even if it wasn’t the same stuff, it was in line with what I was into. But I’m also really easy. Like if the shit is good, I’ll be around it. I mean, if it’s good, I’m going to like it. I mean right now are listening difference are probably way different right now because I’m all into Wave, Garage and stuff. Lindsey’s into straight up ambient Lo-Fi music.

What about specific artists?

T: Lindsey, who would you answer?

L: Who would I answer? I don’t know.

T: Well maybe you answer for me and I’ll answer for you? Like one artist, just say the name.

L: Which one artist would I say for you that had the most influence? Well, maybe a tie between John Frusciante and Johnny Marr.

And is that accurate? This is the real test now, you’re getting put on the spot haha.

T: If there were one artist I would say John Frusciante. If it were two artists, I would say John Frusciante and Johnny Marr, exactly what she said, yes haha. Maybe I would say Isaac Brock? But Johnny Marr as far as guitar and then John Frusciante as far as like inspiring me to do music in general and all that influence and all that. 

I’ll answer for Lindsey and I would say the single artist would be, what’s her name? Victoria, from Beach House.

L: Right. Victoria Legrand I believe.

T: Victoria Legrand. And then I would say of recent times, Barber. Let’s just name drop. For me it would be for recent times, I don’t even know. I would say Feverkin to be honest. I would just straight up say him.

L: I think it’s cool to be influenced by your friends. I think it’s really empowering to have people that are alongside you kind of doing the same things. I really like Arbour and Borealism. He’s got that more like glitchy, sort of ambient sound? He’s really pushing the sound I think.

T: I would just go and namedrop in the Wave scene. Of Dream, Rest in Peace and Careful. That’s just way on the left field.

I think it’s really interesting the variety of influences and inspirations you guys have. With that in mind I’d like to talk about ‘Another Summer’ and your process or inspiration there. What’s the story of that album? And generally how do you approach thematics in albums? 

T: I would say there’s an exact conversation.

L: Yes. Especially with ‘Another Summer’. I think I just came up with that phrase when we were having a conversation. Summertime… I don’t know, it’s always this easy, happier time of year. So, all those tracks were started in the summer and as they were formed and polished off, and arranged and all that, I think we became kind of nostalgic about the past season. And so, the name ‘Another Summer’ came about and it felt really fitting. So, there was definitely a strong theme from the get go.

T: Yes, we had a conversation and I think Lindsey was about to go back to school or something. It was her last semester and she’s like, I feel like I need another summer. And I was like, well that’s it. That’s what we’ll call it.

And those songs were made during that period of time. So, it’s not like we had gathered a bunch of ideas up together and worked it out afterwards. I think our new release is going to be kind of more along that line of where we’re like gathering a bunch of ideas and putting them in their central theme.

But on ‘Another Summer', I feel like it lived within that span of time and the things were just getting created one by one as the experiences and vibes were happening.

Okay, so is that process of like having a conversation or something and then that’s marking a chain of ideas that then all have this central theme and then that becomes a project? 

T: Yes, we take a lot of walks and we talk a lot on these walks. And we’ll just be spinning out ideas, whatever we’re into or thinking about and we just try to formulate it into some kind of package, I guess.

Well it’s almost like these conversations spark the ideas, but then when you actually get in the studio, it’s like these ideas take on their own unique shape, rather than just being an esoteric mass.

T: Yes.

L: Right. And you can let it go wherever you want, meander outside of the box. But it definitely becomes a way to make sense as it relates to our actual lives.

T: But the tracks, they have been from a musical idea that we had or whatever and then we have a conversation. And then sort of focus the tracks to be in line with that. Or we’ll have a bunch of tracks and give off a general idea and we’ll go and take a walk and talk about where and what places these tracks are taking us. Then we’ll streamline it further.

Is there a kind of vetting process on each idea?

L: I think maybe if you look back and connect the dots, it could be, but we don’t necessarily always approach it with the same steps.

T: Maybe, but there’re guidelines. Have an idea, work on it, formulate it over time. But sometimes stuff happens out of order. I think why this things were created is more important that how. I mean you could play some loops and you’re going to sound great. But it’s why, why are you putting these things together? I think that’s the more important to ask as far as ambient music. For us the why comes from the experiences that we have on these walks and just in general and life and such.

So, why? We figure out why, and then sort of put that into a musical context. Like really focus energy on a certain idea or a feeling, and then just bring it about. See what happens, what kind of guitar parts you play or what kind of keyboards and what kind of sounds you want to explore.

I wanted to talk a little bit about your collages and where they came from. Is that a joint effort as well? When did you start this kind of form of expression? 

L: Yeah I must say I do all the collage. I guess it started in high school. I had an art teacher that had this project where she brought in a bunch of old magazines and had us cut them up and make something new. That concept kind of stuck with me and I started hoarding old magazines, particularly graphics. I mean you cut something out of anything and make it into something new. It’s kind of like of sampling and that’s why I enjoy it.

I have all this source material and sometimes you’ll catch a vibe from that specific year or time period and it happens to fit with the sound that you also created and that’s what I try to do, is either try to make a collage that fits the music, or the music comes first and then I make something to match it.

Have you ever found it come out the other way around? Where you’ve made a piece of collage and that’s actually inspired a song, or informed a song?

L: I think that was actually what happened with ‘Another Summer’. But with our other EP, the one before that, ‘Traverser’, it was sort of the opposite. We had the songs first and we felt a particular vibe from how they fit together as a collection. And then I worked from there, creating something to match. It creates a lot of back and forth and it takes time, I think, to find the right pieces. It’s like looking for the right sample.

You have to have the piece that fit. But sometimes I’ll have paper on my desk sitting out for months at a time until I finally realise, well obviously this needs to be together with this.

I feel you Okay cool! So, I wanted to talk about your Forest Finds playlist. What was your guy’s motivation for creating that playlist? Was it to give people a view onto your influences, or was it just to showcase other things you were enjoying? 

L: Definitely both of those things. We just wanted to have a place where we sort of had the things that were inspiring us, but also a way to share our peers music as well. A lot of those people that we have in the playlist, we know in real life and we want to support them as well. So, yes, kind of both.

What do you think of playlist culture at large?

L: That’s tough question because I think a lot of people get too focussed on it. But at the same time, I think it’s important to know how people are accessing music and I think it’s important to stay true to what you want to make and what you want to hear. But also realise, I don’t know, it’s tough.

T: Everyone has a valid opinion and everyone is a music listener. Whether you create it or you don’t, or you’re just cooking to it or you just listen to music in the restroom of a gas station. We’re all professional music listeners and everyone knows what they like and what they don’t like. I think playlist culture is sort of the real world manifestation of that.

It’s great though because it actually gives artists a direct outlet that’s massive compared to any social media following etc. It gives you a stage to put your music onto that normally you wouldn’t have. It’s giving more power to the creator and you don’t have to go through labels if you don’t want. Playlist culture is incredible and kind of the new music business now.

L: Especially with as much music as there is. There’s just going to be more playlist for people’s exact tastes and I think that’s an opportunity.

What’s your take on the community? 

T: I love the Beats community! The only ones that I’ve been able to get into in general, were the wave community and then the Lo-Fi community. I just wish that we shared knowledge better. The Beat community in general is just a mass of people and in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a lot of people. So I think because we are still growing and young, if there’s opportunities to share knowledge you should. I try to take every opportunity I get to just get the secrets out. My thinking is just tell the other dude how to do it. Let him be great. Don’t stop people from being great.

L: It’s not about keeping it to yourself, I think.

T: It’s about sharing it and you’ll be better for that. Your music will be better for that. Your music will be respected more for that.

So it’s like we need to get more cohesive and more kind of collaborative. Go out of your way to actually make an impact in an other artists career

T: Exactly. Yes, you should go out of your way to make an impact. Because that’s what Feverkin did for me. I could never repay him for that.

L: We wouldn’t be where we were if we didn’t have people helping us. So, I think it only makes sense to turn around and share that with others. That definitely exists within the Lo-Fi community and the Wave community and I think that’s one of the best parts about it, honestly. You can talk and literally go in someone’s DMs and have a conversation and then make a track with them. Sometimes it’s just like that.

T: Advice is beautiful. Advice is incredible. That’s the best thing honestly, is advice. Like someone just asks you and them tell them. You don’t have to tell them the exact names of something. You could just say the term, the umbrella.

L: Send them an article or a You Tube video.

T: Yes, give them a path. If you’re in any position of experience, you should pass on any kind of knowledge that you have.

Okay, just one last question now, What can we look forward to from yonderling in the near future or the next 12 months?

L: Lots and lots of more music. Videos, more collage. Just a matter of putting it together!

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