YEARS & YEARS
Olly from Years and Years chats ahead of their show at Newmark Racecourse, 16 August.
It’s a big summer for you, playing lots of outdoor shows across the country, including Newmarket Racecourses. Are you excited for a busy summer? And how do you find playing these shows as oppose to your normal indoor shows?
I’m very excited; it’s the summer season, it’s party season every weekend. It’s gets a bit like Groundhog Day, which is quite surreal. But the appetite for live music is very healthy, which makes me so happy. There’s nothing better than playing a festival or an outdoor show and you get an outdoor party vibe. So I’m hoping to spread joy and to be dancing throughout the summer.
The band are getting bigger nationally, growing year by year, does playing a venue like Newmarket Racecourses show how far-reaching your music is in terms of the different audiences you appeal to? All sorts of people go to this event, they go for a day out and have a big party, how does it feel?
It’s quite bizarre, when I was strapped for cash I was doing odd jobs and I did this catering job at Newmarket where I catered this really fancy group of people who were taking this coach to watch Barry Manilow I think. I was pouring their champagne standing outside looking over the racecourses and thinking, “Wow, this is really big!” and now I’m playing one. It’s pretty mental, I’m looking forward to it, and I’ve never done one before.
How do you go about choosing the setlist?
We have different versions of our setlist, one of them is called ‘the hour of power’, and it’s an hour of all the hits, you want your set to be up-tempo, and have a ballad or two in there, but for the most part we like to keep it up and dance around celebrating and for people to have the time of their lives. That’s what we aim to do when we perform.
By the time you play Newmarket, Palo Santo would be a year old, how have you found the reactions for the record over the year?
It’s such an overwhelming journey, that’s so cliché I can’t believe I said that! I’m so touched by how many of the fans stuck with us since the first album, we saw them on tour the first time round, and then we saw them again the second time round. They’re a few years older and the music means something different to them now than it did, but it’s still meaningful; that’s the coolest thing. I’ll always appreciate that so much. I’m so happy with the reaction to Palo Santo, it’s made me excited and hungry to put more stuff out there and do something different.
You seem to be full of surprises, you’ve done some collabs, you did the track with Jax Jones, you also did The Greatest Showman Reimagined soundtrack, how was all that? Was it out of your comfort zone?
When I started out in the industry I was pretty clueless and those opportunities were coming to us last year, it felt like it would be fun to do. Anytime we get asked to do something I’m like, “Hmm, will it be fun?” or “will it be something different?” and if it is I’d normally want to try it. It’s a nice feeling to be asked to be involved with another artists project. I think the more you can exercise your creativity – that’s the dream – so I always have fun doing that.
Have you got any surprises up your sleeve? Is there going to be any more collaborations? Or collaborations on the album?
There’s definitely going to be more collaborations, but I have no idea what will end up on the album. In the past we’ve not had that but I’m 100% open to it and would love to make that happen. There are some really cool people that we’re working with so that’s all to come.
With some of these collabs recently, there’s been a lot of stand-alone singles, do you feel like you have artistic freedom on these features as opposed to your own album?
It feels like a one off so you don’t think too much about how it sits in a larger body of work like an album. It’s fun. Everyone has different ways of working, it’s a different writing process, it doesn’t feel as hyper-personal. It’s just having fun in a studio and that’s always what I want to do – to get in a studio, laugh, and dance.
Coming back to the ‘Come Alive’ track with Jess Glynne on The Greatest Showman Reimagined soundtrack, how did that come about? You were amongst so many massive names on the recording. Are you a fan of The Greatest Showman yourself?
Jess was doing a cover on the album and she asked if wanted to sing on it and I said ‘Yeah! Why not? That sounds like fun’ so thanks Jess! I was obviously very flattered. The Greatest Showman is very theatrical and that’s very Palo Santo and Years & Years, so it made sense.
You touched on it earlier when you said you have a party at a Years & Years show, but you also make it an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone, how important is that for you at a show?
It’s the top priority. When someone comes to a Years & Years show I want them to feel like they are free to 100% be themselves. It’s about celebrating what makes us different and unique. What’s amazing about live music is you get to share the experience with other people; it’s so powerful.
If you put out a message of inclusivity and support, you’re allowing people to feel safe and I think that’s when you can really enjoy it, let yourself go, and have fun dancing like no one’s watching. We have a very unique fan base, everyone is different, but what unites everyone is the shared support and celebration for what makes us all different.
You have this powerful message, you put on an amazing show, but a big part of it is your fashion. Is that another creative output for you?
It’s something that I’ve grown into, fashion, style, and the look is part of the fantasy. Pop music for me is about the fantasy and drama, all my icons like Prince, Bowie, Beyoncé, Britney, it’s all about the visuals, what they wear and how they put something on and turn into a magical being on the stage.
If you can’t play a bit of dress up when you’re singing pop songs then I feel sorry for you.
Going into these big summer shows, have you thought much about what you’ll be wearing? Especially since it’ll be scorching hot.
It’s going to be okay because I quite like a bit of nudity so I’m happy to show some skin if I need to cool down. I can always just wear a pair of trousers and just take my top off if all else fails.
Are there any shows in particular that you’re looking forward to?
Obviously all of them. Glastonbury is a really special one so that’s super exciting; we can’t wait to play that. We’re doing a lot of European festivals and getting out there is always nice to see fans in other countries, it’s going to be a fun summer
WIN! WIN! WIN!
We have four tickets to see Years and Years on Saturday 16 August at Newmarket Nights at Newmarket Racecourses. For your chance of winning simply send your name and contact details along with subject header
‘Years and Years Comp’ to: [email protected]. Closing date 20 June 2019.