The Londoner reflects on her old-school ascent to jazzy indie greatness, her Turkish heritage and reaching out to refugee kids
Nilüfer Yanya may have grown up in Chelsea, but hers is not the world of the Sloane Ranger 2.0: pristine Georgian townhouses and endless champagne brunches. Instead, it is the manic, deadening, claustrophobic side of the city that radiates through her work: on recent single Stabilise, the 26-year-old sings of never-ending high rises, filled with small flats “rotten to the core”. “Grey concrete,” she says. “I see that immediately when the song starts. A literal grey but also an emotional grey.”
Today we are in the first kind of London – a posh, gleaming, pink-accented coffee shop in Bayswater – discussing Yanya’s upcoming second album, Painless, a collection of prickly, occasionally jazzy, and always catchy post-punk that lands somewhere between Joy Division, King Krule and PJ Harvey. It is the sequel to 2019’s rave-reviewed Miss Universe, a record that heralded this unassuming, smiley woman as one of Britain’s most exciting new rock stars.
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