Premiere: The Mellow Nostalgia of yOya’s “When the World Was Young”

yOya © Bread's Kid
yOya’s poignant “When the World Was Young” blends mellow folktronic sounds with haunting emotions to create a wondrous, dreamcatching and nostalgic listening experience.

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Our childhoods define us, shaping who we are despite, or perhaps in spite of, the little control we have over them. Our first memories; our friends; our childhood room; our teachers… everything creates a permanent and lasting impression that heavily determines who we become, and how we live our lives. Our childhoods can be a safe space – a soft refuge from the intensity with which adults approach their worlds. yOya’s poignant new single “When the World Was Young” blends mellow folktronic sounds with haunting emotions to create a wondrous, dreamcatching and nostalgic listening experience.

When the world was young
You left your traces in all our songs
And everyone you met,
they couldn’t help but fall in love

When the world was young
Listen: “When The World Was Young” – yOya

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “When the World Was Young,” the new single off yOya’s upcoming sophomore album, The Half Turn (out July 20, 2018 via New Professor Music). Following recent singles “The Bloom” and “I Don’t Wanna Fight” – former of which is an especially infectious anthemic number – “When the World Was Young” finds yOya exploring somber depths of both melody and emotion.

The Half Turn - yOya

The Half Turn – yOya

Consisting of longtime songwriting partners Alex Pfender and Noah Dietterich, folktronic band yOya recently evolved into a trio with the addition of drummer Ian Meltzer. It’s been nearly a decade since yOya’s 2010 debut album Nothing to Die introduced a penchant for big folk-rock melodies with intimate, observational, and pensive lyrics. 2013’s follow-up EP Go North introduced an indie pop departure with the increasing inclusion of ambient sounds as emotional forces, and subsequent singles like “Fool’s Gold” and “Bright Lines” affirmed the band’s growing ability to balance pop sensibilities with immersive sounds and memorable lines.

The Half Turn, when understood in the context of yOya’s constantly evolving nature, is kind of like the eye of the hurricane: It’s that musical moment where, for a second, everything stands still and the world is at rest. Turbulence exists on all sides; things will continue to change and develop – they always do – but after eight long, tempestuous years, yOya have weathered their storms and ultimately come to a place of musical brilliance. The Half Turn blends folk, electronic, pop, and more influences together in a dazzling array of sonic wonder, and nowhere is this better felt than on yOya’s sobering new track.

When our bodies were new
You called the mountains, they answered you
And I could make an ordinary stone into a jewel
When our bodies were new

Noah Dietterich describes “When the World Was Young” as “a song about childhood… The people and places, and the everyday magic you experience when your imagination is so much of your reality. But you don’t get to choose when or where you’re born – I feel like I got lucky. Alex and I grew up in Oregon, in a college town that, if the college wasn’t there, wouldn’t be a big city and it wouldn’t be a suburb; it would mostly be rural.”

We feel a depth of appreciation and nostalgia for a faraway time and place in yOya’s chorus, as the band sing in poignant harmony:

Oh early grey, what kind of trouble am I in?
I’m lost and gone away
Lost and gone away
There’ll be a soft spot in my heart for you
As long’s we both shall live
It’s not for me to say
Not for me to say
yOya © Bread's Kid

yOya © Bread’s Kid

Dietterich continues, “The National have a lyric – I am secretly in love with everyone that I grew up with; that reminds of this song a little. In their song, that’s… not a good thing. Our song is also an admission of a love that you can’t help but hold on to, and it’s also not a good thing exactly. It’s the source of a particular heartsickness, so we sing, “What kind of trouble am I in? I’m lost and gone away.” This is the core idea and feeling: No matter how many years pass or how far you travel, there are roots you can’t escape.”

When I saw you tonight
I spoke the words and I watched your eyes
And walking home I saw them
glowing in the eastern sky

When I saw you tonight

No matter how many years pass or how far you travel, there are roots you can’t escape.

There’s a profound sadness about “When the World Was Young” as the group looks back on another world in another time, embracing memories from a distance – like they’re some sort of haunting, ghostly spectres. The song is exactly what one would expect Simon & Garfunkel to sound like in 2018 – a brooding folk ballad enhanced by modern production and electro-acoustic instrumentation. Through its evocative soundscape and intimate lyrics, “When the World Was Young” brings us back to our own childhoods: To a place we can never return to physically, but one that will always be there for us, inside us, and a part of our very being.

Stream yOya’s “When the World Was Young” exclusively on Atwood Magazine! The band’s long-awaited sophomore album The Half Turn is out July 20, 2018 – pre-order it here!

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The Half Turn - yOya

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Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com