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Caught In The Rain With Yaya Bey At Pitchfork 2023

Written by on July 25, 2023

Fresh off the stage from her first-ever performance at Pitchfork Music Festival, New York-based artist Yaya Bey sat down with Vocalo afternoons host Nudia Hernandez under several umbrellas on the festival’s rainy second day.

Yaya Bey effortlessly defies the barriers of genre with her music, delving into and connecting with the vast array of sounds present in the African Diaspora. Hailing from Queens, New York, the artist infuses her music with reflections on her lineage and life experiences, while also placing a strong emphasis on Black womanhood, drawing fans in with her captivating persona and sound.

Nudia Hernandez sits down with New York singer Yaya Bey shortly following the artist’s debut set at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago’s Union Park on July 22. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio

Yaya Bey released her most recent album Remember Your North Star in June 2022, serving as an in-depth exploration of themes centered around grief and heartache while blending elements of hip-hop, Afrobeats, neo-soul and more. This year, she followed up the project with EP Exodus the North Star, delving even deeper into the diverse African Diasporic sound and incorporating reggae, gospel, house and jazz into her repertoire.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2023 saw Yaya Bey bringing the vibrant sounds of the African Diaspora to the Chicago stage, captivating the audience with performances from both the album and EP. Following her set, under rainy skies, she sat down with Vocalo Afternoon host Nudia Hernandez to share insights about her first experience at Pitchfork, the inspirations behind her music and more.

Nudia Hernandez: Hey, it’s Vocalo Radio here at Pitchfork 2023. As you can see, we’re getting rained on, but we’re here with Yaya Bey backstage. Hello! 

Yaya Bey: Hi!

NH: She literally just came off the stage. How was your performance? I mean, you look incredible. You were shining up there, glowing.

YB: It was fun, I had a good time.

NH: Is this your first time at Pitchfork? Or were you here last year …

YB: This is my first time.

NH: Your first time performing, okay. So when you get ready for a festival like Pitchfork, how long does it take to prep your set? Is it a long time to curate everything?

YB: Baby, it was two days, and then we just …

NH: You’re ready to go? [Laughs] 

YB: Yeah.

NH: Okay, so we want to talk about your EP that was released late last year, Exodus the North Star. I was reading a lot of articles, and people were trying to say, like, “Is it Neo-soul, is it Afro-beats?” We hear some rhythms, we hear some lo-fi. How would you categorize the EP? 

YB: It is what it is. 

NH: When you’re looking to create, it’s a six-track EP. So how long does that normally take? What was some of your inspiration?

YB: The project took like a month to make, three weeks, a month. It was just inspired by everything. Like the sounds of the diaspora. I’m a Black person, I’m African American, I’m Caribbean, so there’s a lot of sounds in the diaspora. We share a lot of sounds and it’s just inspired by, like, me and my people and just everything that is in me, because I grew up with it, and because I lived with it, and connecting the dots. I don’t think I try to spend a lot of time dwelling on genre. Like, I’m a Black person, so I’m just inherently multifaceted. So I just do that.

NH: I love that. And I did, like I love meeting artists. I love this line from the album, and I want to know what was in your head when you were writing it? “Sunshine won’t last all of my days, but I’ll be sunshine all of my days.” What does it really mean? What were you actually thinking?

YB: Imma be good regardless.

NH: One last question before we go – again, it’s raining here. We are backstage live here at Pitchfork. And I want to let you go. I was reading and your journey within the music industry has had a lot of … highs and lows and you’ve gone through a lot of different styles of music and management. What would be your advice to young ladies coming up in the music industry?

YB: Trust yourself, because you know what you’re talking about. 

NH: It’s that simple. Thank you again, Yaya Bey. We are backstage a Pitchfork 2023. You did incredible on stage and thank you so much for being with us.

YB: Thank you so much. Thank you.

Keep up with Yaya Bey on Instagram.

Interview by Nudia Hernandez

Audio production by Ayana Contreras

Audio editing by Nudia Hernandez and Morgan Ciocca

Photography, transcription and editing for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

Written introduction by Omi Salisbury

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