yOya are four men making the most of music in downtown Los Angeles. Inspired by the beautifully straining voice of Jeff Buckley, the unique songforms of Radiohead, the melodic freedom of Joni Mitchell, and the existence of exuberance in a city that most have given up on, songwriters Alex Pfender and Noah Dietterich provide alt-rock and indie music lovers with a very strong and unique take on their craft. Their self-titled debut EP yOya (released Feb 6, 2009) offers up a mix of groovy alt-rock (“Talk About”), driving acoustic jangle (“Mountains”), melancholy riff-rock (“I Will Be Your Eye”), somber and subdued electronica (“Blood River”), and massive angular funk (“The Moon and the Shore”). Despite the eclectic range of sounds, vocalist/guitarist Alex Pfender leads the group to surprisingly cohesive ends, due in no small part to great performances by drummer Louis Cole, bassist Patrick Taylor, and keyboardist/guitarist Noah Dietterich.
Like many creative forces, yOya grew out of challenging circumstances. After leaving their hometown in the Pacific Northwest, Pfender and Dietterich attended separate universities in Southern California to study music. They spent their freshman year writing for and recording the second full-length album for their first musical project, The Stack. However, as time pressed on The Stack slowly disintegrated, leaving a frustrating creative void that remained unfilled until September of 2008. At this point, Pfender became restless enough to assemble a new band, a trio consisting of current drummer Louis Cole and saxophone/keyboard player Sam Gendel. They remained an unnamed band even after recording a 4-song EP, which never was released. However, one song from that period (“The Moon and the Shore”) appears on yOya’s debut release. Bassist Patrick Taylor was recruited, after which the quartet officially became known as yOya, played a handful of shows and recorded their EP from November to December of 2008.
Near Christmas of 2008 Pfender began to realize that he would need the help of his old songwriting partner Dietterich in order to take yOya where he wanted it to go. They spent the holidays writing the second half of yOya’s live set, all songs which will appear on their first full-length recording. After the band reconvened in the greater Los Angeles area, Gendel quit, making Dietterich his official replacement on keyboards. The first show that the new lineup played together was the release concert for the yOya EP on February 6th, 2009. They have since played at Hollywood’s Knitting Factory and have two music videos in the pipeline; “Blood River” is being made by Los Angeles graffiti artist/filmmaker James Jay and “Mountains” is being made by the band under the direction of Jay and fellow filmmaker Torrey Tayenaka, the founder and owner of OC Film Productions, LLC.
Though they are a fledgling group, yOya is made up of very experienced musicians and are moving swiftly towards new and exciting musical horizons. Will they become a Los Angeles fixture? Only time, and you, the engaged music fan, will tell.