Louder with Kaya Tarsus of Blood Youth @ 2000 Trees Festival 2019
Huge thank you to Jase Smith for transcribing the below interview!
So first of all, you guys released your album ‘Starve’ earlier this year- how’ve you found the response to the record so far?
It's been crazy! Really surreal and really crazy because like, really big bands have been reaching out to us and saying how much they like it! The first week we released ‘Starve’ everything was just blowing up - including our heads, we were just like “What is happening?.” When we recorded the album, we recorded it 6 months - something like that, maybe 8 months - before it was released, so we had just been listening to it for so long that by the time it came to releasing it, it was literally just like white noise [to us] and we felt like ‘is any of our music even good anymore’? And then when it came to the day it was released I was like “Oh yeah, everyone’s hearing this for the first time!” So to get a fresh reaction on it is so strange. But yeah, it’s been great so far. It's really fun being on the album cycle!
It's a brilliant record.
Thank you so much!
So the video for the album's title track is very visceral and almost a little bit difficult to watch- it reminded me a lot of Linkin Park’s ‘Papercut’ video when I first watched it- was the sense of challenging your listeners with that kind of thing something that fed into the album at all?
Everything you just said then was exactly what we wanted, so that’s so nice to hear. Because when we came to writing this album everything we’ve ever done so far in the band has always been quite clean cut, quite safe and - we’ve always been compared to Beartooth, which is fine! We’re good friends with them - or like A Day To Remember and stuff like that, and everything was just like really clean - so we were always like “Uhhhh” because we hated the idea that people had like, figured us out because that makes us feel like “Why are we doing this? What's the point if we can't challenge anyone anymore?” and we were just like “Y'know what? Let's change everything - let’s get a new logo, a new look, a new sound”, so we just turned everything up: made it really dark, made it really scary - and that's exactly what we wanted we wanted people to watch the video and be like ‘Ah this is an intense thing!’. Lyrically and musically it’s really intense, I’ve always said it sounds like a soundtrack to a horror movie! And that’s how it was when we were recording it, we recorded it on a farm and we only watched horror movies! There was no signal, no shops or anything like that and we only had each other in this farmhouse for 3 weeks not speaking to anybody else and that’s sort of like on the album - we wanted people to feel how we were feeling and I’m glad that's come across.
Oh yeah definitely! You can definitely hear that. That’s something else I wanted to touch on was that a lot of music that falls under that very broad metal umbrella is often characterized as being motivated primarily by anger: was that something that motivated you guys or was there something else that fed into it?
Yeah, I think with all the other albums I only ever really thought about ex-girlfriends and heartbreak and all that, and when it came to writing the lyrics for this album I was kind of like “I’ve said everything before” or “I’m sick of singing about her”, so we just talked to each other and made it more about all of us and what pisses us off and what makes us angry so everything really came from like a really angry place. When we were writing the album I got a stomach ulcer and I was waking up in the morning and literally coughing up blood and I was like, “I’m dying, this is the end of me, I’m done” and I remember like going to the doctors and them giving me some medication so I was like filtering all of that into the lyrics and it just all came from a really weird dark place and so I’m glad that it’s all there.
Is that a difficult thing for you though? Exposing that kind of level of depth into your own psyche?
I’m kind of used to it now because when you’re in a band you kind of have to be really lyrically open, you can’t be fake because you [as the listener] can just figure it out. You can figure out lame lyrics, so it’s just always gotta be real. People have always labelled us as that kind of band where it’s 100% genuine and I always want to keep that, so that puts pressure on all of us when we’re writing because I’m like “Oh my god, what if i’m not feeling this right now”. I took a 3-week break where I didn’t write any lyrics because I didn’t have anything to write about and you’ve just gotta, y’know, see what comes out.
Definitely, That’s what makes the most genuine music- you listen to it and you know this is something that someone’s actually gone through rather than that whole sad boy “The worlds against me” thing.
That's literally it! And you can figure it out so quickly, you’re just like “Oh man, here we go”...
So, the instrumental tracks on the record are some of its arguably most experimental moments, is that some indication of the way you want to take Blood Youth going forward?
Yeah I think we’ll definitely do stuff like that in the future, like I said we wanted to make everything different and less just an album of songs and more of an album where you listen to it and it’s all connected and those instrumentals are really just glue that just keeps everything together and keeps everything flowing really nicely. They were made by a guy called Gilbert who went to school with Chris, our guitarist. We’re all from the same town and he was from our town as well. We brought him to the studio and he came in with like, 3 weeks of us being there and it was like he had entered like hell: we were all really feral with beards and just like dirty and he’s just like “Oh my god” - It’s like ‘Lord of The Flies’
or something! He came in and he wrote and sampled on the spot with us and we’d ask “Can you change this bit or that bit?” and he got it and us. He came to the London show on our headline tour which was over sold out, and he heard it all live which was just so surreal for him as well.
The other thing that for me stands out on ‘Starve’ is these big bold choruses- are you excited to bring them and these big tunes to festival stages?
That’s why - well not why we wrote them- but it’s one of the reasons we like having them because we play these shows and the whole crowd explodes and that's sick. We’ve always been known as a band - without sounding like an asshole - who have really catchy choruses and that’s what we’re really proud of as well. We’ve got a heavier side to us but we also really like melody, so that was a huge thing to us, to make sure those were all nailed, really precise.
You’ve got Reading and Leeds later in the summer - are you looking forward to that? And is it different playing huge festivals like that compared to smaller festivals like this?
This is the second year in a row we’re doing Reading and Leeds, and it means so much to all of us because we’re all from Leeds and I’ve gone to that festival since I was 13, and when I was 17 I said “I’m never coming to this festival again until I’m playing it” and like, 10 years later we did it and I went to the festival for the first time since then, and now we’re playing it for the second time in a row. But yeah to answer your question, it is really different but the crowds are still really good. Festivals like Download, Reading and Leeds stuff like that it’s just so like, 100 miles per hour. It’s so intense and there’s so many people everywhere the pressure is just mad.
So as a final question, if you had to give yourself sort of Slipknot style personas for the band, what would your sort of names be? Like, alter-egos.
Oh wow, I think it would be more on our personalities. Not sure what the names would be but Chris is like crazy and just says whatever he wants - I always call him a Jack Russell so, maybe that. I’m quite a quiet person and then we do the shows and I’m just completely different so maybe something like that. It would definitely be on our personalities because we’re all very brotherly and very close with each other but we’re also four very different people, but I think that’s what makes us work as a band.
That balance of fraternity and individuality held in a carefully balanced equilibrium is a concept which Blood Youth champion, both in their outlook and in their raucous live shows! And with this new creative direction being boldly forged by the band going forwards, their future is looking very devilishly intriguing indeed.
‘Starve’ is out now via Rude Records.
Check out the aforementioned video for 'Starve' below:
Blood Youth have appearances scheduled at this year's Reading and Leeds Festival, alongside a host of other brilliant bands- the full line-up is below and the last few remaining tickets are available here: