I Ya Toyah Interview
How much have your friends and families played a part in your career so far?
Definitely major. Since I was a young child, I was musical. My big sister was as well- she had a guitar and sung/wrote songs and I knew I wanted to do the same when I was 5 years old. I picked up that giant guitar, learned basic chords and by the age of 7 I performed at school’s events. I grew up in poor surroundings in Poland, my parents didn’t have the money but they pulled through to get me to music academy
when I was 10. Without all this- who knows what would be?
When did you decide that a career in music was for you?
I think it became clear when I came to US in 2006 -simple things like access to great equipment totally wowed me and everything suddenly seemed possible- not like in Poland, not then anyways. It was a loooong way to come though- I had to build my life here, starting from scratch secure my safety before even dreaming about music career.
Who are your musical inspirations and why?
I have ton of different ones- it goes all the way to classical compositions of Mozart, Camille Saint-Saëns
through Depeche Mode, Crystal Method, Android Lust, to Chris Cornell, Slipknot, Opeth and Symphony X, In This Moment and Portishead, all the way to Sade and soul queen Aretha Franklin. It’s jazz, progressive metal, and definitely grunge- the latter had a huge impact on the way I do music stuff. I love dark music but weirdly, inspirations come from all around the place for me.
Can you tell me 3 things about yourself that people might not already know?
1.I have a Master Degree in Political Science, and specialize in Gender in Visual Cultures. I also have a Music Business degree. 2.I am a Field Advocate for American Foundation For Suicide Prevention (AFSP)- I suffer from PTSD after my Mom’s sudden and unexpected departure and I support this cause through all I do, including music ( Code Blue full album is focusing on mental health and 15% of each album sale goes directly to AFSP ) 3.I landed here to spread the disease of music and infect the human race.
What song of yours best describes you and why?
All of the songs I write come from the deep inner ground. I give a chunk of soul to each one- and it’s not even planned, it just happens- the way I write is crazy, things I write about are very personal so it’s really hard to pick one. I would probably say ‘Rebel’- the song that will appear on the record coming on October 26th- is probably a good one. Why? Because I’m a rebel. I have the darkness in me, and I have a spark. I grew to be aware of it and in order to balance it I keep pushing through life, keep pulling myself out of the dark with my inner fire, my passion.
What has been the best gig you have done to date and why?
I love all the gigs with my Polish rock band, Przystanek Polskie Granie, that I am the part of besides my main solo music thing I Ya Toyah. With Przystanek, it’s like with Family. I found these guys when I came to US and we all became friends. One day we decided to start the band. Gigs with this band are intimate- the crowd, mostly Polish, probably 300- 500 people, and absolutely magical connection. Love these guys and love the audience. These are my Polish roots in me coming out wild each time we play hehe. I’ve had some good gigs with my metal band Burning Eve, and other projects I’ve been a part of, but to me it’s not about the size of the venue- it is about that connection, the invisible that suddenly becomes so obvious. I’m very excited to finally start playing as a One Girl Show. I hope that together with the audience we can create the great unforgettable experience that will make each gig my favourite.
If you could perform a gig at any venue where would it be and why?
Dalhalla- the outdoor theatre located in Sweden. It’s one of the most magical venues for its gorgeous setting in nature, its history and the acoustics. This would be out of the world experience to me.
What has been your best achievement to date and what would like to achieve in the future?
I look at achievements and accomplishments as bunch of small critical steps that come together as life itself- you set the goal, and you execute the plan to get there- but by the time you do, your next goal appears lengthening the journey. I am proud of my strengths and the fact I was able to build my life on foreign ground from the point zero. All the things that happened in my music world- the bands, the rock and roll- I used to think ‘that’s it’ and look now- my new goal is a One Girl Show hehe. So, I focus on that. I Ya Toyah live shows, album release, more writing and producing, more shows. And gig at Dalhalla ;-)
Tell me a story from backstage or after a gig?
Hmm...what happens backstage, stays backstage. But one time after playing this cool festival with the band, we all camped and it was wild- party all night in the middle of nowhere, ton of people, no sleep. We wanted to hang the day after the gig but it was supposed to rain and everyone started to rush with packing. Heavy clouds were approaching....So I grabbed the tambourine, and along with one of the friends started walking around the grounds improvising the spell to conjure the rain. People would give us the sacrifices, we gathered ton of booze, red bulls, weed, some smokes, I don’t even remember what else. And then we placed it on pile and started all rain dance. Guess what? Clouds went away, rain never came.
What do you like best about being a musician and why?
I love having an outlet for my emotions. Music creation is my therapy, it’s my medication. And it’s my friend even on the toughest day. I once said that I’d chose the worst day in music creation world over the best one outside of it. I mean it. I just love being musician, love part of writing and creating, love performing and connecting.
If you were not in the job you are now what would you be doing?
I am lucky to say that I love where I currently am job wise. I work in music/tech business by day and wouldn’t want to change my job because I really like it, and it goes along with my passion for music. Same with writing, producing, performing,managing all this beautiful music craze. If I had no choice but switch the professions though, I’d probably become a chef cause I love cooking and making up weird fusion dishes, and- since I am used to doing more than one thing in life - I’d probably be an owner of dog rescue shelter where all the dogs would have the best time of their life.
What has been the best gig you have been to as a fan and can you tell us about it?
Hard one. Ton of great gigs I attended. But I’d always choose an intimate setting over the huge arena one, for the very reason of connection that builds between the audience and performers, and for the better sound reason. One of my all time favorite shows was Riverside show In Chicago’s Double Door- it was in 2013 and I’ll never forget how amazing that show was.
What would you say is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Control your emotions. Simple. Still haven’t got there.
What things make you happy and what things annoy you? Small everyday things make me happy. My dog Benek makes me happy when he smiles. Love makes me happy. Progress and personal growth also. Ignorance annoys me. And slow drivers on the fast lane.
What things do you like to do when you are away from music?
I travel, play with my dog Benek, cook weird things, organize, remodel stuff, make parties and spend time with my people. Often though, it circles right back to writing music. It’s hard for me to stop, I get inspired in the weirdest moments.
Do you think social media and the internet are a good thing in the music industry and how do you cope with using social media to build a profile in music?
I’m not sure it’s good or bad. I don’t really know the taste of music business world before social media and internet time, aside from what I’ve been told and what I’ve seen/read/ heard about it. It is what it is, you either adjust or you’re out of the game-or, if you’re lucky, you are in the game on your own terms. Tools available today are definitely helpful when you wanna get out there. It’s that the concept of ‘out there’ has changed- now everyone has access. I keep social media profiles to share my music, tell my story, connect with people, support causes, and even make friends- it’s funny- I’m very organic when it comes to human connection, I need personal, close, ‘real’. Sometimes it gets busy, it’s a constant multitasking so I try to keep the balance- when you are everywhere, are you anywhere at all you know?
How important do you think you look and image is when it comes to being in the music industry?
To me it’s very important. My image is just who I am, extension of my soul and integral part of my music. I’m adventurous when it comes to looks but I also notice, not every musician is like that. There are very successful musicians who keep a very low profile image. I think as long as you are authentic and true to yourself, it will work either way.
Can you tell us about any tattoos have and the significance of them to you?
With pleasure. The first tatoo I got symbolizes my dark nature. It’s the black star with a built in gear, with the ring of red energy flame. I know I have a very strong energy, I can give good things to this world regardless the darkness within me. Similar juxtaposition meaning carries the second tattoo - it is a flaming sun with heartagram built in, and the meaning is 'good and evil', 'light and dark', and 'love and death'. My third tattoo is infinity and it symbolizes my infinite love. Me and Damian (my partner) got them while travelling in Spain back in 2014. My sleeve tattoo is the newest and tells the compex long story about my life- the journey through good and bad, and how it affected me.
If you run the country for a day what would you change about it and why?
I wouldn’t want that hehe. You can’t make a change in a day unless it’s drastic and this country needs much more than that. Let’s stop here :-D
What would your ideal day consist of?
Simple things. Travel. Music. Coffee. People I love around me. It could be day off, it could be show day, really- life is full of ideal days if you want them to be ideal. I like discovering new things so I’d picture perfect day in new settings, in the unknown, with those I love and want to share the experience.
If you could say one thing to your fans what would it be and why?
THANK YOU for becoming infected with the disease of my music. <3
How would you answer the questions who is I Ya Toyah?
I Ya Toyah, when spoken out loud, in Polish sounds like A Ja To Ja, which means It’s Just Me. And it is just me since I am a solo act, One Girl Band.
What was the first record or song you purchased and why?
I was 7 and it was Elvis- Best Of. Can you believe haha? I had collected enough money to get just one and had to pick wisely. At our small local store not much was available. Also, at this time my older sis was blasting all the metal tunes at home- I was all about it, don’t get me wrong- was just seeking to find a different experience.
What would say to someone thinking about becoming a musician and getting into the music industry?
Don’t think. DO! But know it’s a labor of love, quest of devotion.
If you could collaborate with any other band/singer or musician who would you choose and why?
I’d be curious to see what would come out of combination of my music and choir. I’d love to try this someday, and perform it live. I’d love to do collabs in Chicago local music world- industrial scene here is reviving, it’s amazing how much great music, talented artists are out here doing mind blowing things. It’s as creative as it gets so I’m definitely excited. From the big world I’d love to collab with Android Lust, Crystal Method, NIN, Pigface, and my new favorite Igorrr. I’d also love to collab with a theater group, do a modern dark performance where emotions and meaning would be expressed through music and moves.
If you could have written one song from history which would it have been and why?
Happy Birthday. I’d be rich and free to do more faster, more efficiently. I think with the money that song has made, I’d actually be able to change some things that bother me in this world.
What things make you uncomfortable? Ignorance.
If you wrote a book about yourself what would it have in it?
Hah! If I published it pseudonymously, it would have all the spice, definitely ton of uncensored interesting things about my experience here on Earth. I might still do it one day, I love provocation and that would definitely do it.
What has the rest of year got in store for you including gigs,new releases and appearances?
Ton of things coming this year. Next week, August 24th, I’m releasing the video for the single Farewell- Mirrors don’t Lie that premiered at the end of July, then I have a gig or two, followed by Glass Eyes single release on September 28th. The full album Code Blue release is scheduled for October 26th, followed by release show in the beginning of November. More shows follow after- ton of things to still set in stone but a lot of exciting news is coming so stay tuned!