Nilüfer Yanya is a singer born in London who is gaining popularity with her jazz styled vocals.
Born: London, United Kingdom
Famous for: Singer
Nilüfer Yanya was born into a multi-cultural family with an English mother and Turkish father. She grew up around music; her father played traditional music around the house whilst her mother listened to classical music. Her nanny also brought Irish music to her home.
Yanya was taught the guitar by Dave Okumu from The Invisible, Dave was her first guitar teacher at school for about two years.
In 2016 Nilüfer Yanya made her first record Small Crimes. The music video is shot by the help of her sister and her sister’s boyfriend on a very small budget. Looking like an old tape the video reflects a rebel spirit.
In June 2016 Nilüfer also released Hey, a Pixies cover recorded by Bullion for a recent covers album on his label DEEK Records.
She has a old jazz style to her voice which is gaining popularity. Some claim that she has kind of Jeff Buckley-esque style in a way that she plays her guitar and a voice similar to the great Nina Simone.
She has played in several clubs around London. In 2017 she performed in Turkey.
In May 2017 Nilüfer Yanya released new single Golden Cage, a track that comes from Yanya’s EP, Plant Feed.
*Photo credits provided in references section below where possible. View a list of photographers here.
Hello Nilufer. We really love your song Small Crimes. Was it a very conscious decision to keep it so restrained?
It was conscious yes. The way I heard the song in my head and how I performed it was very stripped back and simple. I wanted that to be reflected in the record. I also think my ear is attracted to more minimal productions. I really like hearing how the music all fits together.
Has your heritage had any influence on your music at all? [Nilufer has Turkish, Irish and Bajan family].
I couldn’t tell you much of it has influenced my music, consciously anyway. I know my dad is convinced it has but that’s because he plays a lot of traditional Turkish music around the house. My mum played us a lot of classical music as children, but then I can also remember her singing Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens and Macy Gray. My nan was always playing this Irish folk CD at hers, but there was also Bob Marley and Sweat by Nelly, so who knows?
Have you ever committed a small crime?
I’ve got loads and loads of library books that need returning. The worst part is you have to own up to it when you bring them back.
Your Twitter bio says “I’m not rlly a singer”… If you really weren’t a singer, what would you be doing?
Haha. I put that up there because I’m still not used to identifying with being a “singer” as it’s the part that came last. Funnily enough If I were to be doing something else it would have to be something which allows me to have a voice. I’ve always thought about writing a book or designing clothes.
We like the motorbike sound at the start of your video. If you had to pick the best motorbike sound out of Leader Of The Pack by The Shangri-Las, Speedway by Morrissey or Small Crimes by Nilufer Yanya, which would you choose?
The Morrissey one is pretty strong!
You’ve covered The Pixies in the past. Which other artist should everyone have as part of their musical education?
A friend introduced me to Laurie Anderson the other day who is another 80s artist. I can’t believe no one had ever played her to me before! There is still so much basic listening I need to do.
We also saw that you were taught guitar by Dave Okumu from The Invisible… What was the most important thing he taught you?
Dave was my first guitar teacher at school for about two years. I’d only just picked it up so I think the most important thing was just that he was so inspiring, encouraging and cool! Him and [fellow Invisible member] Tom Herbert also ran this ‘Year Nine Rockband’ workshop with us that my friends and I played in. I remember him talking about the importance of writing because we were “creating something that hadn’t existed before”. It sounds like an obvious thing now but I don’t think I’d ever thought about music in terms of existing like that back then.
What are you doing next? Where can we see you live?
I’ve got another single coming out in October and will definitely be bringing out more after that too. I’m playing with my band on 20 October at George IV in Chiswick and doing the EP launch on 17 November at the Slaughtered Lamb.
Finally, is that your dog in the video or did you nick like all those library books?
That’s Coco! She is my sister’s dog, but we hang out quite a bit.