“…songs like “I’ll Be the Fire” showcase the duo’s feel-good falsetto and folk-pop buildups.”
-Seraphina – Buzzbands.la
yOya’s Alex Pfender (vocals, guitar, drum machine) and Noah Dietterich (vocals, keyboards) first met when they were 10 years old, playing the parts of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in a school musical. Although that was their first and last musical theater collaboration, it was also the start of a partnership that’s journeyed through influences of folk, electronic, and back again.
They started writing music together in high school, when they formed a rock band that eventually evolved into yOya in 2009. Their songs, which could be best described as “folk-tronic,” “electronic folk,” or “synth folk,” are at their core folky, acoustic tunes with real melodies and real lyrics; combined with heavy-hitting electronic beats and the broad sound-space of samples, synths, and whatever bleep-bloops make them feel good. “Our fans definitely hear the influence of Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell, as well as contemporary folk artists like The Tallest Man On Earth or The Dodos. We love Radiohead and Animal Collective as well,” says Pfender.
They first honed their songwriting skills against a backdrop of classic folk music and rainy winter days in Corvallis, Oregon. Pfender says, “It’s heavily forested on every side, which I think helped draw us toward folk music. That and the fact that both of our parents are big-time folkies with the record collections to prove it.”
When the duo eventually moved to California to study music, that acoustic background collided head-on with the electronic sounds of the Los Angeles scene. When the dust had settled yOya emerged with their unique mix of folk-hearted songs, intricate vocal harmonies, gritty synthesizers, and thundering electronic beats – their own blend of folk and electronic. “We like our acoustic guitars to sound old and rootsy, and our synths and beats to sound huge and hard-hitting,” says Dietterich.
Since self-releasing their debut album, Nothing To Die, in the spring of 2010, yOya has toured extensively through the western states and the east coast, sharing stages with Avi Buffalo, Dawes, The Seedy Seeds, Crystal Antlers, and many others. And like friends sharing an extended road trip, they also find ways to amuse themselves on the road. “We’re very familiar with the interstates to and from LA, so we make fun of the same road signs every time. Especially the one south of Redding, CA that says ‘Proberta Gerber,’ which we imagine is a lady who ‘serves urban burgers’ or ‘curbs squirrel murder,’ and the one on I-15 north of San Bernadino that says ‘Barstow Daggett.’ That ought to be a swear word,” says Pfender.
“yOya, the local duo of Alex Pfender and Noah Dietterich… combine folksy familiarity with electronic embellishments on their recent self-released album, Nothing to Die.”
-Chris Martins, LA Weekly
“This band blew me away, hands down… The vocals are unique and have this soft and calming effect.”
-Ivy League Spins
“I feel like these guys have dozens more great songs in their heads, waiting to come out.”
-Matt Jordan, You Ain’t No Picasso
“[One] of L.A.’s finest electro-pop purveyors.”
-David Greenwald, Brand X / LA Times