Last year they won the award for Most Promising Artist at the Red Bull Elektropedia awards and tomorrow they are releasing their debut EP ‘Whirlwind Romance’. In 2010 Yvan Murenzi, Alban Murenzi and Ludovic Petermann started covering songs. Not long after that the three childhood friends who grew up in Braine L’Alleud decided to make their own music as YellowStraps and their talent was noticed by Tangram Records who they are currently signed to. I had a chat with them about growing up together, their band name, their EP and much more.
ITU: You have been making music together for a very long time, where did you meet?
Yvan Murenzi: “We live in the same village, which is very small, and we went to the boy scouts together. That’s where everything started.”
ITU: When did you get into music?
Yvan: “When we were fifteen we started playing music together. We started out covering songs but after a while we decided to make our own music and we were instantly hooked.”
ITU: Where does the name YellowStraps come from?
Yvan: “That’s kind of a silly story. One day Alban was looking for a strap for his guitar but all the straps in the shop were a bit weird except for one which was yellow. Ludovic and I needed straps too and we also took yellow ones. A few weeks later we were looking for a band name but we couldn’t think of anything and we were like: ‘why not take ‘Les Lanières Jaunes’ and translate that into English.’ That’s how YellowStraps was born.”
ITU: How would you describe your music?
Alban Murenzi: “In the beginning we were very focused on acoustic music but now it’s a big blend of many genres such as hip hop, electronic music & jazz.”
ITU: Which advantages does the fact that you grew up together have musicwise?
Yvan: “The fact that we know each other very well makes it easier for us to make music together and to connect on a musical level. It also allows us to be very open to one another. If there is something going on that one of us doesn’t like he will just put it out there and we will find a solution. It also has a lot of advantages when we’re on stage, it’s like there some sort of natural connection between us. If one of us would quit, YellowStraps would never sound the same.”
ITU: The first time you were on national radio was on Lefto’s show on Studio Brussel. Has that kind of exposure helped you a lot?
Yvan: “Yes, we got a lot of positive feedback after that performance, especially in Flanders. I think Lefto helped us a lot to get our name out there.”
ITU: Last November you won the award for Most Promising Artist at the Red Bull Elektropedia Awards. That was kind of big too.
Yvan: “Yes, and we were not expecting it at all because we hadn’t even released an EP yet, only singles and videoclips. It was great to see all of the support and it really stimulates us to keep working hard.”
ITU: What has been your most valuable experience during this musical journey?
Ludovic Petermann: “There have been so many precious moments. Just all the positive comments and people telling us that they like our music are things we appreciate a lot.”
Yvan: “To me every performance is a great experience. I love being on stage. I would also like to give a shout out to Cris Prolific who believed in us from day one.”
ITU: What inspires your writing process?
Yvan: “When we just started I wrote a lot about our experiences with music and the obstacles we had to overcome by using metaphors. Nowadays I’m writing about traveling, landscapes and a lot of dreamy stuff. It also depends on my mood. Most of the time I write love tracks.”
ITU: You mentioned dreamy. Do you think it’s that aspect of your music that attracts people to YellowStraps?
Yvan: “Music to us is like a journey. When we play music, we like to take people into our world. Dreaming is quite interesting because then you can do anything. Some people told us that when they listen to our music it’s like escaping from reality and that’s exactly what we want to offer our fans.”
Ludovic: “It’s also the way we listen to music. It takes us to another space and time.”
ITU: Who are your biggest inspirations?
Yvan: “Definitely Patrick Watson, he inspires me a lot. Our style is very similar and his voice is beautiful.”
Alban: “We also have a lot of acoustic influences like Tom Misch and Jamie Isaac.”
ITU: What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?
Yvan: “That’s a hard question. Probably playing Xbox all day. I can’t imagine not making music but I think I would focus on graphic design more because that’s what I studied at college. I also designed the artwork for the EP.”
ITU: You have been making music since 2010, how come it took so long to release that first solo project?
Ludovic: “We wanted to develop a signature sound and have something to show to our fans and we feel like we’re ready now.”
ITU: Will there be any features on the EP?
Yvan: “Yes, there’s one track we made with a producer from Leuven called Sabanas. He’s a really talented guy and definitely one to watch in the future.”
ITU: What’s next for YellowStraps after ‘Whirlwind Romance’?
Yvan: “We’ll be releasing new material with Le Motel and Moodprint and because it took so long to make our first EP, we’re already working on a second EP.”
ITU: Where do you see YellowStraps in five years?
Ludovic: “We try not to think about. It’s scary.”
Yvan: “We’re just making music and we like how things are going right now. We just hope it keeps evolving like this.”
Alban: “And mabye we’ll have an album out by then, hopefully. (laughs)”
Whirlwind Romance is out on March 17 via 1M Records.