We had a discussion with Yael S. Copeland about her debut album, Mellow Submarine
Auteur·ice : Paul Mougeot

We had a discussion with Yael S. Copeland about her debut album, Mellow Submarine

A few weeks ago, you were given the scoop on many, the new music video by Yael S. Copeland that announced the arrival of her first solo album, Mellow Submarine. This week, we spoke with the Israeli artist about the release of this new record, which is both warm and intimate.

La Vague Parallèle: Hi Yael! Thank you very much for having me. How are you?

Yael S. Copeland: Good, I just moved in a new apartment. I don’t know if you heard about it but we are in this kind of political mess here in Israel so we have a lot on our minds. Hopefully, there will be better days. The world seems a little crazy now everywhere.

LVP: Can you please introduce yourself for those who wouldn’t know you yet?

YSC: Of course! My name is Yael S. Copeland and I’m a musician. I also play music in a band called Borito that is more like indie pop. My solo project is more personal and melancholic. I see myself mainly as a songwriter. I just love to create lots of songs. I’m really passionate about music but I was never somebody who just liked rock music or RnB, it is more like a combo of influences.

I heard a lot of things in my house when I was a kid, my parents came here from the US and they brought folk music and American rock with them. I have always been inspired by this storytelling and I wanted to go back there, maybe with a modern twist.

LVP: To what extent is it a whole different experience for you to create by yourself?

YSC: That is a good question. Basically, when I work with Borito, I’m with my partner in real life, he’s the drummer and the sound person of the project. Doing this one, I’m really on my own. It’s always my songs and my lyrics, I already had the experience of sitting in front of my computer and recording the vocals and guitars but this is different in the sense that in this case, there isn’t any band to discuss with.

LVP: You just released your debut album, Mellow Submarine, a week ago. What inspired you for this record?

YSC: The roots of this project are definitely more folk, based on the songwriting and the storytelling. I really fell in love and dove into the lo-fi folk with artists such as Alex G or Elliot Smith. The harmonies are weirder, maybe a little bit darker on this project. I also love Adrianne Lenker from Big Thief. I wanted to take something traditional and put some weirder influences on the top, with this lo-fi cassette vibe that I like to work on. I find it interesting to build something pretty and then kind of “ruin it” but still have that melody that is nice and poppy. 

LVP: I think you have an Israeli and American cultural heritage. How did it influence your music and songwriting? 

YSC: It definitely did. It’s such a cliché but I grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen. My dad is such a huge fan of him but here, in Israel, he’s not that big cultural icon so my dad definitely influenced me. We listened to Bob Dylan, Van Morrisson, Paul Simon, Randy Newman and they inspired me a lot.

I would say that the Israeli part comes from growing here, knowing the language, the culture… This is where my life is. But I also have this English point of view about how I see the world. I do feel it is very Israeli but I know that if someone just randomly listened to it, he couldn’t point that out. This is just who I am, in the end.

LVP: Was English a natural choice for you to write in ?

YSC: Yes, I think it’s natural for me to sing in English. The notes in my phone are in English, the short poems I wrote for myself as well… It’s very exciting to write in another language and enlarge your playfield to get to other places with your lyrics. I find it amazing that someone from the other end of the world can understand it and enjoy it.

LVP: This record has been massively influenced by the sanitary crisis and the ecological crisis. How did you manage to turn this negative energy into such a beautiful and poetic record?

YSC: I feel like this is part of our generation’s identity. We are just walking around with this feeling that something is going to happen at any moment… I think this is a big part of our day to day life. When I wrote those songs, it was a really hot summer, I was sitting in my living room thinking that I was very privileged, but I was also thinking that it could end soon.

LVP: Our generation seems particularly concerned by the social and environmental struggles of our time. Do you think music and art can have a role to play in these fights?

YSC:  This is good question, we talked about it a lot with my friends lately. Actually, we were wondering if we had still a place to put out some music while some very important things are happening all over the world. But today, I’m just thinking about all the people that are fighting for their freedom, for democracy, for equality and I think we have got to continue these things for them. It sounds like a cliché but I think we need to put out to the world what you want to see in it.

It’s important to keep going even is the news is horrible.

LVP: This record seems to be a shelter from the outside, with a very intimate and cozy atmosphere. Is it what you aimed for with this album, to protect yourself from the outside?

YSC:  Yes, I guess for me it is. I didn’t know how people would receive it but for me, obviously, writing is therapeutic. It really helps me deal with memories, things that I would have liked to happen… It also helps me to relate to other people, it’s kind of reassuring to know that other people are feeling the same.


LVP: This album also sounds like a farewell to your twenties, to carefree years. Did he allow you to find some peace of mind about that?

YSC: To be honest, I feel like the twenties are kind of a turmoil. You don’t really understand what’s going on in your life, you’re such a mess… I think there is something about getting older accept that you accept: this is the world, nobody told you that it was, but you’re starting to understand it and to accept it by yourself. You feel ready to go to the next step, caring less about what people think about you, loving yourself more, caring about people that are close to you… I wish that for myself, too.

LVP: Eventually, can you share a recent musical discovery with us? Or a book, a movie?

YSC: Sure, I love movies, I’m such a movie geek but I think I’m going to share an album that has been very important for me this year: Mercy by Natalie Bergman. It’s such a wonderful album, very uplifting.