Premiere + Interview: Yakul – ‘Realigned’

We’re extremely excited to give you first ears to ‘Realigned’, the new single from Brighton based Neo Soul trio Yakul. Fusing together swinging hip-hop drums, mazy vocal runs and jazz chords that keep you guessing, the track showcases the bands ability to challenge you as a listener whilst remaining at all times blissfully accessible.

We caught up with lead singer and keys player James Berkeley to talk influences, creative process and their plans for the summer.

SS: Hey guys, first off, congratulations on the new release! We absolutely love it. Tell us a bit about where it came from and the creative process behind it.

Y: Thanks man! I’ll generally start the process at my studio. There’s something about being in a 3×3 metre room with no windows that really gets my juices flowing! Nah but I do tend to write better on my own, so after I’ve got a demo down I’ll take it to the guys (Tom Caldwell-Nichols and Sam Hughes) and we’ll go to town on it.

SS: Is this a single or are there more tracks for us to look forward to in the not too distant future?

Y: We’ve definitely got another single on it’s way, past that point it’s all speculative right now.

SS: How would you describe your sound to someone that hadn’t heard of you?

Y: We’re a bit of a mix of a few things, at the core of it though we’re a soulful hip hop band that’s super influenced by jazz and wonky sounds. We all grew up listening to different stuff but we have a common interest that gravitates around those genres, so that’d be a good place to start I think.

SS: Who would you site as some of your major influences?

Y: 90s Hip Hop, everything J Dilla, D’Angelo and the Soulquarians. A lot of jazz as well, and everything around the ethos of jazz. You know, pushing the boundaries of the norm. For more contemporary stuff there’s so much coming out of London we really love at the moment, Jordan Rakei and Tom Misch have been killing it for a while now and Black Focus by Yussef Kamaal (RIP) has been on constant rotation since it came out.

SS: This is one of those questions that can often fall flat on its face but, the name, Yakul, where did it come from?

Y: We’re really into Studio Ghibli, and probiotics. This seemed like a happy medium.

SS: You’ve got a gig coming up at Jazz Cafe where you’re performing a Musiq Soulchild anthology, how did that come about?

Y: We were lucky enough to play there at New Years Eve, along with some amazing musicians like Barney Artist. It was sold out and we got a mad response, which was a pretty special moment and we got asked to do it following that. Definitely how we want to start every year! Being able to do Musiq Soulchild is extra special, we’re such big fans and being able to do our thing with his music has been super rad.

SS: Staying on the topic of gigs, what are your plans for the summer?

Y: Originally was planning on working really hard getting the set perfect, and writing and gigging loads. But after the last couple days of unexpected sunlight, definitely considering allowing all of that and being on the beach til the winter. Maybe we can combine those. We’ve got some real exciting festival spots coming up soon; they aren’t announced quite yet but we have announced we’ll be playing a few times over The Great Escape weekend and Big Love festival. We’d love to get out and tour a bit over the course of the year too.

SS: Thanks James, it’s been a pleasure!

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