Following the release of his captivating new single Blue, we catch up with Brisbane-bred singer-songwriter Yoste to discuss his inspiration, fears and the meaning of music.
Yoste aka Kurt Sines tells us all about his forthcoming debut EP, try to be okay, due early next year.
Can you explain the themes and ideas behind your new EP, try to be okay?
The EP explores themes of disconnection and alienation, inadequacy and potential, and about trying to resolve those things through the love of others and love of nature. I feel very attracted to those kinds of ideas. They’re what I grapple with personally, and so that seems to be the primary fuel for my music. Having said that, much of that content is reflected in the lyrics, which I take seriously but find quite easy to write. The music itself is often very lush and positive sounding which is also thematic as I do feel optimistic much of the time and I’d rather release music that is uplifting and gives you something to ponder, rather than music which just makes you sad.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
For lyrical content it’s podcasts, books, observations of people and their interactions and my own inner monologue – there’s a lot of that last one actually. Musically it begins with textures… atmosphere. Then I often add guitar or piano chords and go from there.
In terms of deeper inspiration, it often comes from powerful emotions or immersion in nature. I’ve been in love since I was 16 so songs about relationships and heartbreak don’t really motivate me. What does are those more essential experiences that effect us all whether we’re in love or not.
What’s your favourite lyric on the EP?
This will not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following me for awhile, but it’s “in the warmth of your glow I’m alright” from my song ‘Arc’. It stands out to me because it seems to provide some sort of resolution to the themes I grapple with. It projects a certain level of acceptance of uncertainty and anxiety. It’s about finding that person or place (or both) that quiets your mind and allows you to just be. In a sense it’s the counterpoint to the title “try to be okay”.
What’t the story behind your stage moniker?
I thought it up in the shower. I wanted something short and easy to recognise. Something that sounded vaguely Scandinavian as I love a lot of things about their landscape and culture. I wish it were more grandiose than that. It’s not. For what it’s worth I started a lot of projects with different names and personas when I was in highschool, and none of them fit, but Yoste does. The way a name sounds and looks and feels is special and a hard thing to define – you know it when you find it.
Literally and figuratively speaking, when was the last time you got/felt ‘lost’?
Fuck, I mean… this morning? Probably this morning. Several times a day. Can I swear in this? Feel free to censor me if not.
Name one thing you’re scared of.
Following conventions. Norms have their place, society would be chaos without them. But when you have these fundamental emotions and beliefs telling you to buck a certain trend or a convention makes you feel uncomfortable, like you have to compromise your personality in a big way… It’s hard to go your own way, but it’s also what will bring the greatest satisfaction. An easy example is abandoning a career in law to pursue music. There are a lot of practical problems, but you make it work when you stop to look back you realise the choice should have been an easy one.
Pick one song (but not yours) that could be the perfect soundtrack to your life right now.
‘Towers’ by Bon Iver or ‘Nobody Else Will Be There’ by The National. You’ve caught me at a good time, a week ago it could have been ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ by Lit or ‘Shut Up’ by Stormzy.
If your sound was a colour, what colour would it be? And why?
I’m obsessed with pastel pinks and blues at the moment. Not in their solid form though, with little whites and imperfections and variations. Like a beach at sunset – perfect. Those are the colours of wonder and emotional balance for me.
If try to be okay was a soundtrack to a movie, what movie (and what title) would it be?
As you’re asking me to title it, I’m assuming you’d like me to invent a movie that doesn’t yet exist? In which case I would title the movie ‘try to be okay’ because I like the title (obviously) and I feel it fits very well with the theme of that EP and my worldview at the time. I think it’d be a movie in the vein of “into the wild”, which is brilliant.
But in order to not be too boring I’ll provide an alternative. The movie is “everything is largely fine: you should quit the internet and go for a walk”. It would be about a guy who gets a bit upset and goes for a walk and feels better. Andrew Garfield would play the lead.
And a cliché question, what does music mean to you?
I’ve written before that music, art, comedy, film, dance and architecture are all the same at their core: expressions of the human search for meaning, beauty and connection. I have a special fondness for music, but I think all those disciplines, and more besides, are like spokes in a wheel, spinning until you can scarcely tell them apart.
On a more personal level, my music and making music is one of the most fundamental aspects of my personality. In a recent conversation with my label, I remember ruminating about what a privilege it was to have multiple people reach out every day with personal messages describing the effect of the music in their lives. I think that’s a rare thing for most people, and so I can’t imagine being satisfied doing anything else. It’s one of the few things that feels truly meaningful.