Before local band Yada Yada was Yada Yada, they were Del Monte and the Drifters. And when that didn’t work out, they turned to Popliteal Fossa, better known as the back part of the knee. Not surprisingly, that didn’t really catch on either. “No one knew how to pronounce it. Or spell it. Or say it,” said drummer Ian Klipa, a junior in the School of Art & Design, laughing. “Not good for promotion.”
The group finally settled on Yada Yada, and on Dec. 1, the band — consisting of LSA juniors Rowan Niemisto, Conor Anderson and Klipa — released their debut album Daisy Chain, a summery and contemplative collection of 10 songs that has been in the works for around eight months.
Watching the three of them interact with one another in the house they share together in Kerrytown, it’s almost unfathomable to think that they only met each other during their freshman year living together in Bursley Residence Hall. They finish each other’s sentences, laugh at the same jokes and clearly understand one another on a deeply personal level. The creative process behind Daisy Chain reflects their closeness.
“There’s no song that’s strictly one person,” Niemisto said, who plays guitar and sings most of the lead vocals, with Anderson adding, “Even if we just have a riff, we run it by each other.”
Coming from Marquette, Mich., Anderson grew up attending a local folk festival where he was drawn to roots folk and traditional fiddle music. In middle school, Anderson, the band’s bass player and occasional lead vocalist, was part of what he calls “basically a Nirvana cover band.” “I’ve always been making music and (Yada Yada) is just a progression,” he said.
Luckily for the group, Niemisto’s father is a musician and has a home studio where Daisy Chain was recorded. It was a learning process for the band, as they were responsible for everything having to do with the album outside of mixing it, from setting up the microphones to arranging the music. None of the guys are actually music majors, and they had to find the right balance between focusing on music and school, though living together in one house — where the majority of the writing took place — certainly helped.
Still, the process wasn’t all that stressful. “We all do our schoolwork and we take it seriously because we all love our classes” Klipa, who grew up in Pittsburgh, said. “Music for us is the fun thing, a relaxing thing. It’s not stressful writing the songs because there’s no deadline. Nobody asked us to put an album out.”
The fact that nobody asked makes Daisy Chain’s existence even more impressive. Just through one listen, it’s more than clear that significant time and energy was invested in the project — despite its hiccups. The lyrics are thoughtful. The sound quality is professional. There are trumpet parts (on “Fossa” and “Three Ghosts”), narratives (on “Spaceship Toothpick”) and no lack of extended instrumental breakdowns. Yada Yada maybe isn’t ready to debut on a larger, commercial scale just yet, but for three college students making music on the side, it’s an admirable accomplishment.
“Sun Breaks,” the fourth track, is a highlight of the album. “I remember we did that song right about when it was turning from winter to summer,” Anderson said, and, with its sun-tinged guitars, longing vocals and oscillating dynamics, it certainly recalls the change from dark to light, especially in a state where the weather can range from apocalyptic to sublime. “We were very happy in the summer,” Niemisto said.
With Niemisto going abroad next semester, the band is going on forced hiatus, and their plans for next year aren’t necessarily clear. Nonetheless, this past Saturday, Yada Yada beat out four other groups to win the University’s 3rd Annual Battle of the Bands, while Daisy Chain recently passed the 100 downloads mark on Bandcamp, an online platform for artist promotion.
Soon, the members of Yada Yada will have to figure out their path after college and ultimately venture into a world outside the confines of Ann Arbor. But until that happens, they’re more than content — as they should be — with writing songs in their backyard, playing shows in friends’ houses and, more than anything, living life like any college student should by waking up everyday and doing something they truly love.