The Whistler audience is in for a treat March 28, when YFEE takes the stage at CHIRP Night at the Whistler. Sharing the stage with experimental noise-rockers Mermaid N.V., the Chicago hip-hop/electronic artist will spin tales of relationships, intrigue, sci-fi, astronomy and maybe a conspiracy theory or two.
“I’ve been singing and writing lyrics and poetry since I was seven years old,” YFEE says. “I love to play with meanings and give room in my lyrics for things to mean more than one thing at the same time.”
A graduate of Northwestern, YFEE studied Film and Astrophysics. Her passion for both subjects is evident in her videos and lyrics, and YFEE isn’t afraid to wear her emotions on her sleeve, either.
“I always want my songs to come from a deep, emotional place,” YFEE says. “I try to express feelings that are very personal and universal to all human beings.”
A resident of the South Side of Chicago, YFEE chose her stage name because she enjoys collaborating with people who treat her with respect and value her opinions.
“I’m YFEE and I’m your partner,” she says. “I am someone you want to team up with.”
Her latest single is “Day Time TV,” where YFEE describes how it feels to venture out into the unknown after dealing with the emotions of a failed relationship. The lyrics are biting and bitter. “It’s just another earthquake inside my head. Eyeliner drippin’ on my mouth. Eyeliner drippin’ on my nose. Dammit, I feel like I just got gunned down. How tragic. And all he ever says is, ‘Let’s hang out.’”
The angry lyrics are juxtaposed over a lush bed of melodic pop, beats, moans and sound effects that would sound perfectly at home on a Björk album.
“Electronic artists like Björk definitely influence my sound,” YFEE says. “I certainly don’t consciously try to sound like anyone else, but it’s flattering to have someone compare my music to hers.”
In the video that accompanies “Day Time TV,” YFEE plays anything but the victim, creating a TV soap opera character right out of Empire who gets in the last word in her failed relationship. This gorgeously-shot video was filmed in Washington Park.
One of her more radio-friendly songs is “Wet Dreamz,” another mashup of defiance and anger. “He’s a holocaust. A liar. Likes to set off my sirens.” The mid-tempo beats and bouncy synthesizers move the story along until YFEE samples a synthesizer hook from Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle,” interrupting the story and forcing the listener to take notice that YFEE is no longer angry, but in charge of the situation. “I’m not drinking from the faucet. Had a grip, looks like he lost it. I resist, I’m so defiant. He can’t wait. I made his mind up.”
YFEE is interested in conspiracy theories, a theme that is reflected in “Dead Tech,” a song that discusses drones, the impact of cell tower signals on our brains, holograms and the frustration people feel when friends aren’t immediately accessible in today’s 24x7 world. In “Dead Tech,” YFEE disappears into a hologram world, a theme that is echoed in The Never Ending Story, Wolfgang Petersen’s classic movie about a young boy who enters a fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book to escape his dreary life of being tormented by school bullies.
“I am a big fan of that movie. The story, as well as the cinematography, had a huge impact on me,” YFEE says. “Visuals are an important element of my live performances, and I definitely want my music to be used in soundtracks for movies and television shows.”
YFEE is looking forward to DJing her set at the Whistler.
Writing poetry and lyrics is a deeply personal process for YFEE, and she enjoys tossing off the occasional pun or joke, such as in the song, “On the Bridge,” where she sings, “You left your heart last time. It’s in the fridge. Ask what scent I’m wearing. It’s Pabst Blue Rib.”
“I’m constantly coming up with ideas and rhymes,” YFEE says, “and I record all of my thoughts with a voice memo on my iPhone. Those memos provide the framework for many of my songs.”
CHIRP Night at the Whistler is scheduled for Wednesday, March 28 at 8:30 pm. Tickets are free, but you will need to RSVP to this 21+ show.
You can listen to Mike Nikolich every Friday from noon to 3 pm on CHIRP-107.1 FM.