“I think there are just so many other supportive musicians here, and just so many people that are really encouraging,” Emily Yacina explained after being asked what stands out about being a musician in New York City. “It’s always been pretty easy to put a show together, or to get people to listen to a new song. The community aspect is really nice.” Yacina turned to Will Sacks, sitting beside her in the newsroom of the New School Free Press, who smiled and said, “I think the same.”
Yacina and Sacks, both seniors at Lang in the environmental studies and philosophy programs respectively, originally met through a mutual friend. They have been performing at venues across NYC together for more than two years. Both artists write and record their own songs; Yacina debuted her new album Heart Sky on her Bandcamp page last week. The Free Press spoke to Yacina after the duo performed two original songs off the album to learn more about their musical origins and how their musical styles have evolved.
How did you get into songwriting and playing the guitar?
I started making songs when I was a freshman in high school, but I was playing guitar since I was probably, like, 10 or 11. And there were a lot of spaces to have shows near my hometown, because I’m from outside of Philadelphia, so that’s how I got into writing music.
You just released an album titled Heart Sky, could you tell us a bit about the process behind finding inspiration for your songs, and putting together the album?
Well, I mostly wrote it when I was in Alaska this summer. I was working at an environmental non-profit called the Northern Alaskan Environmental Center, which is based in Fairbanks. So I was living in this cabin, and I didn’t have internet or running water, and I was biking to and from work every day for two and a half months. And just…I didn’t really have anything to do besides work and hike and be outside, so I l had that time to really sit down and write the songs. It was a really good time for me in terms of reflecting and processing my year. So, that’s where I made it.
Is there any song in particular off Heart Sky that really stands out to you in terms of reflecting your experience in Alaska?
I think the song “Vision” maybe is the most representative of that time. Most of them I wrote when I was there, but that song is definitely…like when I think of that time and I think of a song from that time I’ll think of that one.
Because you go to Lang, and you’re majoring in a degree outside of the music program, what do you think music adds to your life as a college student?
It’s nice to have something to work on besides school. And it definitely feels almost like a separate life sometimes, but I really like it that way.
Who would you say inspires you sonically and musically?
My favorite all-time artist is Liz Phair. Her old songs are so important and special to me, and definitely her guitar playing I’ve been really inspired by.
Who are you listening to at the moment? What are some records that you have on repeat at the moment?
Oh, I’ve been listening to this band Big Thief nonstop. They just put out an amazing record in July, I think. It’s called Capacity and it’s really, really beautiful. And that’s been really inspiring. It’s a really great record.
Do you have any pre-show rituals and do you get nervous?
I think it kind of depends on the energy of the space. Like, sometimes I’ll be really stressed out if I don’t feel like a lot of my friends are there. I don’t know. I like to feel the love [laughs]. But in terms of like, things that I always do before playing, I don’t really have anything that I consistently do.
You can catch Yacina perform at the Park Church Co-op in Brooklyn on Oct. 27 and Nov. 14 at Baby’s All Right. Yacina’s new album ‘Heart Sky’ is also available to listen to on Spotify, and on her Bandcamp page (https://emilyyacina.bandcamp.com/).