They'd like to set the record straight: "We're not looking for a drummer," says Alex Pfender, lead vocalist of Los Angeles folktronic band yOya. "When we tell people we're a duo, just the two of us with a drum machine, some of them don't know what to think," says Noah Dietterich, who plays keyboards and sings as the other half of the group.
Lying somewhere between folk and electronic, yOya is the dynamic collision of Pfender's acoustic guitar, Dietterich's synth and keyboard layers, and both of their voices. Pfender also runs an MPC — a drum machine often used by hip-hop artists — to pump out beats and drive the rhythm. "We happened upon this sound sort of by accident, but we really like it. Animal Collective and The Dodos are a couple of our favorite bands, and they've inspired us with their unique ways of playing pop music," says Pfender. The duo also counts Jeff Buckley and Radiohead as two of their strongest influences.
Dietterich, 22, and Pfender, 23, have a long history together, beginning with a song they shared in their fifth-grade production of "Tom Sawyer." Six years later they started their first band, and quickly won recognition in both concerts and contests as a "legitimate local phenomenon," in the words of local music critic Jake Ten Pas.
"We sort of had things handed to us," says Pfender. "It wasn't hard to get three or four hundred kids to pack our shows when we were one of just a few good bands in town. When we decided to go to school in LA and live here, it was a bit of a 'minnow-in-the-ocean' situation."
But things have been going well for the group in the past six months: seven songs from their upcoming release have been selected as "Tracks of the Day" on Garageband.com, they performed as the featured artist at the famous ACME Comedy Theater, and they sold out of the first pressing of their self-titled EP. "We only made a small number but it's nice to know that there are a hundred people out there with our first CD," says Pfender.
On the horizon for the band is their debut full-length album, "Nothing To Die," to be released on April 28th, 2010. Listeners will get their first taste of the new yOya: a spectrum of sounds and textures ranging from gritty synths to driving acoustic guitars, as the band explores the outer reaches of the nascent folktronic genre. Unforgettable melodies emerge from energetic anthems and contemplative lullabies alike, creating music which embraces both the friction and fusion of its acoustic and electric elements. The new tracks incorporate everything from autoharp to synthesizer to pipe organ, making the recording process "more spontaneous and experimental than other times we've been in the studio," according to Dietterich. "This record is new territory for us," says Pfender. "We've never made anything like it."