I Ya Toyah - 10 Questions Music Interview
Born and raised in Poland’s tough reality, I Ya Toyah migrated to the USA as a young adult to seek a better life and musical fulfillment. The meaning behind the name I Ya Toyah in Polish means 'It’s Just Me'. Her logo art emerging from peace and anarchy symbols highlights the rebel psyche - I Ya Toyah’s true nature. Code Blue- I Ya Toyah’s self written, recorded and produced debut album- was released on October 26th, 2018 and got immediate recognition in the music industry and stellar reviews from top industrial electronic magazines in USA, Europe, Australia and South America including Brutal Resonance, Sideline Magazine, Regen Mag, Pure Gain Audio, RocknLoad Mag, Spill Magazine, The Independent Voice, Crossfire Metal and more. I Ya Toyah has been featured on several blogs and podcasts, including MK Ultra, Infectious Unease, Dark Life Experience, Decay Mag, Madness To Creation, System Failure, Revel Rousers, Uncivil Revolt and more. Album songs frequently appeared on WKQX - Chicago's legendary Q 101 radio station, WRIR, Rock Rage Radio, Flatlines Radio and Dark Essence Radio. Code Blue album focuses on mental health and suicide prevention, with 15% of proceeds going to AFSP. Within the year following an album release she showcased her talent in multiple cities playing concerts in national legendary venues. She wrapped her year touring with Pigface and promoting Code Blue album across the USA.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
Growing up, I was surrounded by music as my big sister was playing guitar and singing and always going to shows and playing cool dark tunes at home. I guess this activated my inner musician, although my parents told me I was musical right after I was born, singing and moving to the rhythm of music before I remember. The writing part came later, when I learned that getting what is gathered inside- emotions, thoughts, observations and all the feelings associated- out there, in the form of songs, is therapeutic and allows me to deal with a lot of difficult dark things instead of leaving them unresolved and causing distortions, stealing the smile. Writing music literally makes me happy and I genuinely think it saves me.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Hm, it is a tough call as so many weird things have happened it is hard to pick just one. That's why I think all of this is crazy, really. It's like, how am I even here doing all this? One thing leading to another, chain reaction and it's all just daily crazy stuff that adds up. I could say, it is insane that somehow things fall into place, naturally.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I feel like it is now. Today. I must say I feel very empowered by being able to do music. Releasing debut album, touring with co-headliner Zwaremachine, then with Pigface as their opener, being able to open up for my musical hero Mortiis, sharing the stage with so many favorite artists of mine, getting amazing and talented collaborators to work on remixes of my songs, connecting with people in general, through music and the suicide prevention/mental health subjects ...it is a high point. I always tell myself, enjoy the very moment, because it only lasts a moment. This is it :-) And there is more coming.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Funny you ask, I was just thinking about it- it is all over the place. I write all the time, but it's just those ideas, they come in the weirdest times, like when I'm driving or during the very important meeting. I have a recorder where I register those ideas, a lot of them are words with melodies and arrangements- so I record this silly thing mimicking the drum sound, synth sound, guitar etc so that later I know what I meant to arrange it like, what it is supposed to be like. If I'm not driving, a lot of times I'll write down a thought that is occupying my mind in the form of lyric. When I sit down to actually build songs, then it all depends on the day, mood....I don't like being restrained. Creative freedom is very important to me so as long as I designate the studio time when I know i'll be doing the writing, I like to let myself go with whatever it is that comes to my mind. It is always a different process and I love it, I'm never bored writing, never have enough.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
I'd say, big challenge is the gate-keeping and being able to overcome it. When you are new to the scene, but you are independent, without the backbone of some recognized and respected entity, label or manager who knows people, it is hard to get to certain places at the desired speed. And there is a lot of smokes and mirrors, with the acclaimed support of local scene, support of independent. In reality it is hard, you send 300 emails and 3 people get back to you ( this happened to me with my first single release- I knew no one in the scene and needed publicity. Special thank you to James Vanosdol form WKQX Chicago, Brutal Resonance and Modulator UK for having faith in me and supporting an independent artist). You hit walls, and you try to go around but then you take longer, and the path doesn't always take you where you aimed to go. Gatekeeping often comes from contracts and financial attachments and obligations but it also comes from the fear of letting go, of hitting an expiration point. The fear that new will take over. It is also the result of human nature, clinging to an existing, stale order that already seems to work well (for selected group only but it does.) Fear of change- everything punk and rock and roll and industrial and anything rebellious is NOT. Because new WILL take over. This is how it works. It is just a matter of time, and depends on fire you got inside to continue the hustle through. Cannot give up. You must keep going. And build the chain of support with those who do wanna support, work together, make a community- even if it’s from the scratch up- to help each other. So yeah, dear music industry- get rid of extreme gate keeping and practice what you preach.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Depeche Mode. I know, I aim high :-P But I love this band, always did and this would be an ultimate fulfillment for me as a musician and a creative.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
My typical rehearsal is a nut show. I take over living room in my home space. It is cables and snakes everywhere, lingering smoke so that I can test fog machine, lights, video, my keyboards, guitars, microphones, and it is hours and hours of testing and programs checking to ensure all works well together. From the outside it looks like crazy haunted house, windows are flashing and reflecting all the colors and lights movement… My usual audience for these rehearsals is Benek, my dog, who proudly navigates between all the fixtures as if he knows how sacred and untouchable they are. Sound wise, I test both PA- as front of house sound, and my in ear so it doesn’t get loud for too long meaning I can do these rehearsals at any time of day or night. It is a lot to check and practice and I love every microsecond of it all.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
Definitely Code Blue. All my songs are very personal but creating this one forced me to really open up about my mom's suicide and start the difficult conversation on mental health and suicide prevention which are a huge part of what I do and who I am, not only musically, but on daily basis. Another challenging one - and it is on the lighter note- was Forbidden Bark I wrote for my dog Benek to bark on. Producing music for this one wasn't hard but tracking his barks and then assembling all the cuts and effects to where it would make sense was a task. Now, thanks to that song Benek is a barkwave barkist with his own movement- EBM (Electro Bark Movement). ( follow Benek on Instagram
What's coming up in the future?
Well, March 20th is the Code Blue Reloaded release which I'm very excited about. I look forward to sharing it, I'm amazed by how great these songs sound reimagined by all the great artists that took part in this remix project. There is Grendel, Tim Skold, Rhys Fulber, Adoration Destroyed, The Joy Thieves, Xentrifuge, GMOTH, royb0t, Nuclear Sun, Steven Olaf....great names and endless talent. And then, exclusive release of Code Blue Revelations for everyone who purchases the physical Code Blue Reloaded or gets it on bandcamp. Those remixes are very creative, mind blowing, 'you must hear' kind of a thing- with names like Boundless, Construct, Kevin Lux, Julian Cumpian, PLVGUES, Jack Alberson, Exemia, Audiocentesis, Tachyon Crisit Talon, and Peter Guellard... Other than this, I'm prepping to write material for the new album, and to play more shows as I love playing my one woman army show live!. I'm currently working on some equipment upgrades with main purpose to speed up and smooth up my set up and tear down time. I look forward to the gig in KCMO, Riot Room on May 2nd- it is The Women of Underground Concert Series and I'm honored to be a part of amazing lineup plus, I love Kansas City and its music scene and people. I have more going on in the second part of the year but it is not yet to be disclosed. Main plan is to continue spreading the disease of music and infecting the human race :-)
Tell us where fans can access your music?
My music can be found all over the place. Please, visit my bandcamp where you can buy all my releases and also merch
And follow me on Spotify
Don't forget Youtube where you can subscribe to watch all my videos
Also, join me here to get exclusive updates on my activities!