Written by Erin Devany // Photography by Ellie Alonzo
Just over a week ago, a few of our DFW favorites opened up for the genre-bending group WHY? at Trees. The combination of hip hop and spoken lyricism, with a deep and commanding voice, has help set aside WHY?’s content, and led the curious here at Austere to delve into just who, and what, brings life to this band.
“It’s just how we hear it and what we like”
Yoni Wolf stepped in to answer some of our questions about his band, their influences, and how it all came to be. When asked how he channels this unique side of music, frontman Yoni Wolf stated simply, “I just do it how it comes naturally.” On the lyricism itself, he likes to “use metaphors and also tell stories from my real life or from the lives of people I know, or I just make stuff up,” creating quite a dynamic amongst his discography.
“It sounds like it sounds I guess because we try not to follow some prescribed rule or something. It’s just how we hear it and what we like.”
Their music often takes them all over the country, and while on tour Wolf has no trouble settling in, no matter the environment. “I feel very comfortable on stage at this point, especially when I’m with the people I’ve been playing with for so many years. Doesn’t really matter where we play.” He even had some kind words for Dallas, saying “I end up in Dallas maybe once or twice a year. I love the audiences there. They are quite lively.”
“It’s wonderful to work with family”
Wolf also happens to be a jack of many trades. His hobbies and passions extend beyond music; “I do many things creatively. I produce a podcast, draw, collage, make videos, etc.”. He even had a hand in almost every one of their album covers, which range through all kinds of expression and style.
The music side of Wolf’s life began early. “I was into music since I was very young, I suppose. Several people along the way have made me question my path and change my direction.” With Yoni working alongside his brother for this project, it’s a lot more comforting for them to find new ways to grow and expand their music, especially since they’ve had their whole lives to perfect their dynamic. “It’s wonderful. Of course we get into arguments sometimes but that’s just how life is. It’s wonderful to work with family.” The rest of the group helps keep a cohesive and specific style for WHY?, and all of the influences along the way helped form the outstanding music you find with this band. “As far as recording, I would say meeting Doseone made a huge impact on me, and through our work together, made me want to pursue writing and recording in a serious way.”
As with show business, there’s always strange things that follow. Fans insist on feeling a comfort beyond what they’re allowed with musicians, leading to pushing boundaries that these artists don’t always think to put up.
“I’ve been grabbed all over my body in ways that felt invasive. I’ve had scary stalkers. Lots of weirdos out there. That said, 99% of our listeners seem to be super intelligent and thoughtful people.”
Of course there’s always the opposite end of that issue, where the musicians are scrutinized for the way they treat their fans. With all of the sexual assault allegations out there against people we never before saw as monsters, it’s easy to be forgiving and forgetful towards those we hold in the limelight. When asked what sort of responses these people should be dealt when they’re outed for their vile behavior, he states, “I think a musician who has committed sexual assault is the same as anyone else who has committed sexual assault, and should be treated the same. That said, I think the action taken is different for each individual case depending on what happened.” It’s very important to keep yourself aware of your own behavior and that of those around you, and it’s good having musicians who are keeping vigilant.
All in all, the members of WHY? are just like you and I, searching for ways to impact their audiences and keep their sanity intact. Yoni believes that “..it’s easiest to work if I have a deadline” – it’s really that simple. So despite the lingering question of their name, the guys aren’t any kind of enigma, when you get down to it. After all, they start their day in much the same way as we’re sure many readers do:
“I just have some breakfast and then burn some Palo Santo in studio, and get moving.”
Let’s all get moving.
For more from Yoni Wolf and the rest of WHY?, keep up to date at their aptly-named website, here.