Q: Hi Andrew, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
A: Good overall, trying to live in a growth mindset and remember to experience life instead of just getting through it.
Q: Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Explaining The Joke”?
A: This is the first piece of music I’ve put out that’s just mine. Not in a band, not as score or anything else, just my own music. For that reason, I really wanted to let it be unique and not capitulate to any genre or other expectation. The track starts with this delicate piano solo that’s sort of a romantic pastiche, and then as that builds it takes a dark turn with tense pulsating synths and woozy portamento strings. But that’s not even all it seems either because there’s this nylon guitar that comes in, complicating things and adding some beauty to the darkness. And then the end is this place of total dissociation. It’s actually the string players from the rest of the song, but their performance is processed beyond all recognition and to me is sort of evocative of the glossing over and of our lives when they get translated to the online world.
Q: Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
A: “Explaining the Joke” was originally exactly as placid and romantically pastoral as its beginning sounds until I had a life altering experience that’s sort of hard to describe at a Black Lives Matter protest. After that, I wrote the synth part and the song completely changed, and suddenly it was about waking up from the American Dream and realizing where you are and that people around you have been there the whole time and not being able to go back to sleep . I called it “Explaining the Joke” because there are some things that you just have to feel. Being told them isn’t just insufficient, it’s almost entirely unrelated.
Q: The single comes off your new album Start Somewhere – what’s the story behind the title?
A: No matter where you want to be or get to, you have to start somewhere. It rings true on a personal level for me, and It’s the best answer I’ve got to do anything scary or overwhelming.
Q: How was the recording and writing process?
A: I’ve sort of been writing a lot of these songs forever, and many of them started out very different from how they ended up on the record. I have early demos of some of them that are these synth-heavy trance-y, house-y things, very different from how they ended up, but the composition is the same. Having access to a lot of possible ways to realize these songs, and having a bit of a self sabotaging perfectionist streak, what really brought the album together was committing to the ensemble—nylon guitar, string quartet, piano, some small percussion, the occasional synthetic texture from my friend Emerson Sudbury, and committing to a three day booking at The Village in Santa Monica to record it all. Once I decided to hold myself to that, everything fell into place in a really beautiful way.
Q: What role does the city of LA play in your music?
A: For me, LA has always been about the people, for better or worse. I mean, as a place it shouldn’t exist. Practically everything it is known for is imported—from the palm trees, jacarandas, and birds of paradise all the way down to the water. I think if humanity ever terraforms and colonizes another planet, it’ll feel a whole lot like Los Angeles.
Q: What aspects of capitalism did you get to explore on this record?
A: I made this album from a place of significant privilege, with resources that few have access to, and it’s just blatantly apparent in the kind of record that it is. Even the fact that I did it really intentionally finding my own sound and putting out one fully realized project rather than chasing what’s popular and releasing dozens of singles all the time trying to get something to stick. I think great art comes from following your vision, and from the negative space of not being overly prolific, but the freedom to do that very much isn’t free, and that’s not something I can just ignore. I have to be in conversation with it, interrogate it, you know? Is this record just a semi-elite vanity project, or does it have something to offer in a broader context? I hope the latter.
Q: Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs?A: For me, my songs are kind of companions… Or meditations, that are allies in processing my world. They’re not necessarily a response to it, like “oh I was inspired by this event to write that song,” but they start as just something that I’m playing, and then as I live and grow with them through the days and Weeks and years, they are shaped by life and become about something. The phrase “It’s not what you do that matters, but how you do it” really rings true for me. At first the song is in some ways just an empty vessel, then it gets filled with meaning by the way that I play it, which is informed by everything.
Q: What else is happening next in Andrew Yarovenko’s world?
A: I’m hoping to play a few LA shows this spring, and I’ve got ambitions to record choral versions of a couple of my pieces.