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By SHARON JENNINGS
Milwaukee-based band No No Yeah Okay came together in 2014 when Mark Gage and guitarist Christopher Quasius created experimental instrumentals for fun while drinking a few beers. As their pastime and catalogue grew, Mark invited friend and, at the time, rapper Colin Plant, to add vocals to a few tracks. Colin changed his style to singing versus rapping. Bassist Joshua Paynter added a layer of craft and detail that was necessary to finish their debut song, “XO.”
Tell us about your new single, “That Ain’t You,” and how you came to create it? Does it have special meaning to you?
Our upcoming EP Cabal is conceptually centered around the idea of ‘identity’ and the many ways ‘identity’ can be interpreted, misunderstood, manipulated, or evolved. “That Ain’t You” is one part of that story. It’s about the evolution of a relationship where one person has remained themselves, and the other person has begun to change. The relationship that once worked no longer does. This was actually the first song we wrote after releasing our first EP ‘Dual’. It carries a lot of the style from that project, more so than any other track on the EP.
What is the secret to a good collaboration?
Just being open and honest with one another. With any new group of collaborators, there is usually an awkward growing pain where everyone is trying to evaluate how to work as a team. If you start out open, honest and with a clear target to hit, it keeps the conversation focused on what’s best for the concept vs. what is subjectively most pleasing to hear to an individual.
What is your favorite kind of music? What is so attractive about that genre?
Each member of the band comes from a wildly different musical background than everyone else including hiphop, punk and electronic. We each approach a song by applying our strengths and then challenge each other to put the pieces together. So, we don’t collectively have a favorite genre. There’s a lot of value in staying open-minded about what makes each genre exciting.
Where can we follow you and where can our readers catch you live next?
We play in our hometown of Milwaukee frequently. We are currently organizing a short regional tour for the Midwest with the hope to use any attention from that tour as a platform for an expanded tour. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.
Who are the musicians you most admire and why?
For so many reasons, we all admire multiple musicians. Too many to name. Whether it’s their ability to bend genres, create a unique style, inject emotion, or just someone who’s mastered their craft, we take inspiration from those who are doing something unique.
What do you enjoy about touring? What is the biggest drag about touring?
It’s just great to meet people and learn about their experiences. It’s fun to introduce yourself and your art to a new audience and try to build excitement with them. But playing any show is definitely a lot of work. That’s probably the biggest drag. We spend a lot of time perfecting our sets and building transitions/etc, which is super fun, but it means there’s a huge time investment for even the smallest shows. It’s part of the gig though.
What advice would you give other young artists today?
Play shows as frequently as possible. Get invested in your local music scene. Be a supporter of multiple genres/artists and try to understand what about their sound you enjoy. How can you manifest that feeling with your own unique spin? Lastly, have fun. Music needs to be treated like a business sometimes. Don’t let that side of things drag the whole experience.