Swiss German band YC-CY totally blew some of us out last year with their Todestanz Lp (including a song that is compulsary listening). So their show in La Makhno (Usine, Geneva) in May was a chance not to be missed. « It’s the first time we’re doing an interview », says YC-CY guitarist Mike, almost shily, with no suspicion of what a pleasure it is for the interviewer to record the carefully thought-out answers of the young band – kind of felt like taking the pulse of a sportsman. This conversation took place on the upper floor of l’Usine. Mike, Rune (voice) and Gregor (drums) were sitting on the beds. Remo (bass) was on a ladder breathing the smoke of a cigarette out in the night. And this is what we said.
Is there any special meaning behind the name YC-CY ?
Mike : No, we like it because it is symmetrical. I think it is interesting because it doesen’t mean anything but it makes you think about what it could mean.
I thought maybe it meant « Why see ? See why ! »…
Rune : Nobody thought about that.
Mike : I thought about it ! That’s my favourite version of the name, actually.
Is there a will from your part to make something a bit obscure, not so easily accessible ?
Mike : We don’t necessarily look for it but we are probably like that so it just automatically happens. Like for example on the first record all the names of the songs are animals in German. We didn’t have any lyrics at first so we just named the songs by the animals that they reminded us of. And then we thought, cool ! Why not ? A lot of stuff about the band seems really planned out but it’s really spontaneous.
Remo : And on the second album it’s all exo- planets.
Mike : Planets that are not in our solar system.
There’s always this notion of distance. Exo-planets, it’s… far away !
Mike : Exactly. And then the cover looks like space with an an explositon but it’s really a photo of the ocean and the thing that looks like an explosion is a jellyfish.
It’s not really easy to label your music. How do people react to it ?
Mike : People who like punk music think it’s interesting but also a little weird. And then there’s some people who are looking for that kind of music.
Remo : There is not really a scene for this kind of music and when we started we were really wondering if people would like it. When you’re writing punk or hardcore you know people will like it.
Are you talking about your local scene or in general ?
Mike : Some of our worst shows are at home. I honestly just think they don’t like that kind of music that much. Which is totally understandable.
Remo : And playing more shows and finding people that are interested in that kind of music or playing with other bands that do similar type of music outside of Switzerland made us realize yeah there is a scene we didn’t know about !
Rune : People walking out at shows. It’s always funny. It’s not really a thing that you would wish to yourself. We sound so weird that people don’t know what to do with it. At least you can protect yourself with that kind of thought.
Mike : It’s a reaction at least !
Rune : And then you discover that there are actually some people who listened to it, who actually know some songs and have come to the show and you don’t have to protect youself anymore.
Mike : When we go on tour, we never expect too much. One night it’s crowded and everybody’s dancing and the next it’s ten people and they don’t care !
So do you find punk music too conservative ?
Remo : We all wanted to do something new but we all like punk bands as well.
Mike : All these conservative – if you want to call it that – punk bands, we all like them. But we’ve played in a lot of bands already so we wanted to try something new. But we like the Ramones !
What is a good concert for you ? What type of contact with your audience are you looking for ?
Mike : I really like when people dance cause to me the music is really dancy. But I don’t know if it comes across like that always. I don’t see it as hardcore at all. I see it as just dancy but really dark and spacy.
Rune : We played our first concert in April and – we had that in Milano before – people really engaged with the music, pushing the stage, almost pushing me off the stage. It’s a really infectious thing, this excitement, this vibe that everybody gets into, where you will do some stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily do normally.
Mike : People kind of forget about themselves and just let loose. And then when the band stops everyone is normal again. It’s cool, I think. It’s interesting.
Rune : It can also be a good show when people just liked it. Or they didn’t like it but you just had fun.
Are there any bands that you saw and that inspired you to cross boundaries and do your own thing ?
Remo : We talked about it before a little bit. Some yeaurs ago we came here in l’Usine to see Retox. I didn’t know them and didn’t expect anything. It was different, really powerfull and the audience had this punk spirit but the music was not something that usual punk bands would play. It was weird but really intense. That was one influence. Punk but different.
Rune : I admire bands that can put on a really crazy show even if not much is going on. Just doing their thing. I don’t really understand how you do that.
Mike : They’re just really confident. About your original question, I think we all really like The Cure. Heavy but not melodic and not hard. A little funky, a little dancy. that’s what we’re trying to do as well.
Do you think that local scenes still have a relevance in our internet age ?
Mike : Yeah, definitely. We live in a really small town but the scene there is really good. There are record stores and studios, places to play and a lot of bands. Even an independent radio station and they play our songs ! Nothing to complain about, really. I just believe that it’s really not the kind of music that people who live there want to listen to.
Are you active in any other ways in your local scene, apart from the band ?
Remo : Yeah, we are setting up shows, playing in a lot of local bands as well. (Remo has also started a label called order05records and Mike is playing in the experimental band Tumortumor. – Ed.) We were doing shows in our practice space for a while. When we did the first show, we were kind of expecting the police to turn up because the place is like an apartement in a basement but then we ended up putting up shows there regularly !
Mike : There are also clubs where we know the people and where we sometimes do shows.
Do you like reading about music ? Do read any special website or magazine ?
Remo : Yeah, I really like to read interviews when they go a little deeper than the usual questions. And also band biographies and books about music.
Mike : I really like Ox fanzine. I check that out for reviews mainly. And I just discovered Perte & fracas. He reviewed one of our records and now I check that out too. We’ve all done French at school but we never use it. So I can read in French, even if it sometimes take me a long time to understand. I feel he’s always spot on and knows a lot about music. I’ve discovered a lot of records. He’s probably my favourite… I even like Noisey and Vice and all that stuff.
Remo : The book that I’m going to read next is called Fight your own war. It’s about the noise-punk scene. And we talked about Retox. I read two of Justin Pearson’s books, too. The first one was OK but then the second one I hated.
Mike : The second one made me dislike him a bit too…
OK, next question ! Your two records have come out on X-Mist records. Can you tell me how it happened ?
Remo : We released the first record by ourselves – 100 lps, we didn’t know if anybody was going to buy it. Somehow he heard it, made a review and really liked it. So he ordered a lot of Lps. Half of them I think. When it sold out, he did a repress, and then another repress. And then he told us that if we were going to do a new album and he liked it, he wanted to have us on his label.
The sound is a bit different on the second album. Did you go to a different studio ?
Remo : (Laughs) We didn’t go to a studio for the first one! We recorded in our rehearsal space. We did it all by ourselves. We didn’t know what to expect and then when we were mixing it and it was coming together, I was like « Wow ! This sounds really good ! Who knows, maybe someone will like it ? »
Mike : We didn’t know what we were doing. It was a lot of work to do it ourselves.
Rune : Insanely stupid !
Remo : We lived in the studio during five days for the second album. Became kind of friends with the guy who recorded us, who was really into it.
Mike : He was super sweet. We’ll probably go there again for the next album.
Which should be on your label, Remo ?
Remo : Maybe, we’re not sure yet.
Did you play some new songs tonight ?
Mike : Yeah, two. We’re trying them out. I think, just like the second record is more dancy than the first one, the next one is going to be even more dancy.
You’re very much into dance (laughs). Do you like dancing ?
Mike : A lot.
Remo : We wanna do horror disco !
Mike : Even, like, gothic… I love it.
You guys have very lively and rythmic parts and other that are more ambient/noisy stuff. It makes the songs quite long – that’s good – and during the shows you don’t have a lot silence.
Remo : We try to have one long song as the whole set !
Mike : When you’re watching a band and you’re really into it and after the songs it’s like « CRRRRR… » and it’s quiet. I think it’s nice when it’s more like a movie. There’s always something happening and you’re never getting out of it. And if you don’t like it, it’s like torture ! (Laughs) It’s good because of the contrast. The long parts seem longer and the fast songs more chaotic. It’s like a rollercoaster. Only long songs would be boring but the two different parts kind of charm each other… I think.
Plans for the future ?
Remo : This year we’re going to try to record a new album and then play a lot of shows.
Mike : We have a lot of songs already.