With an unabashed admiration for sonic experimenters like Thom Yorke and Amy Winehouse, NUNNE creates music that weaves between multiple music genres, creating a sound that is at once familiar but altogether fresh-sounding and hard to pin down.
Being born into a family of passionate music lovers comes with its own set of pros and cons. For Mexican born singer-songwriter Yosune Yáñez, who makes music under the moniker NUNNE, an early parental push towards formal musical instruction may have resulted in outright pre-teen rebellion but started her down a creative path that would ultimately redefine the role of music in her life. RAC recently caught up with the up-and-coming songstress for a chat about her roots, her inspiration, and an astonishing musical resume not often seen in an artist of only 19.
“My whole family has always been really fond of music, and they shared that admiration with me ever since I was born. When I was quite little, my mom saw that I had a passion for singing. When I turned 11, she suggested that I start taking music lessons. I was a rebellious pre-teenager, though- I didn’t want to. I already knew how to sing and believed that I didn’t need any help; it wasn’t like I could get any better. I underestimated musical education.” Whether she appreciated it or not, the fact that Yosune’s parents met in a rock band and would occasionally share the stage with their young singer for covers and parody songs was an experience that stuck with her. With her mother’s ongoing support and enthusiasm, she decided to give music lessons a chance.
It was these first forays into musical education that led to a change in Yosune’s perspective on music. “I started viewing music and singing as more than just a hobby- it wasn’t a simple pleasure anymore. Music became my way of living and understanding life. As I learned and practiced, my sense of hearing became more acute. I started thinking in sounds and viewing the cycle of life that way. There was always a sound that helped me understand everything that life presented to me.”
These realizations started Yosune down an artistic path marked by impressive musical milestones matched only by her considerable ambition and versatility. “My very first concert was a tribute show for Nirvana. I felt so badass- leather jacket, black lips and everything. As I started to move through the underground, I eventually became a session musician and performed in some of the most important venues around Mexico City, as well as the northern U.S, including the Lollapalooza festival.” She continued honing her craft in the interim, developing an interest in classical music and seizing the opportunity to have one of her pieces performed at El Centro Cultural Helenico, an important music venue in Mexico City. “After they finished playing my composition, I looked back into the audience and saw hundreds of people moved by the music and even crying. That was the point of no return- I needed to start creating my own music and share it with others.
That’s when NUNNE was born.
When asked to define the key players in her musical evolution, NUNNE is quick to mention Amy Winehouse as a prime influence on her singing. “It was because of Amy Winehouse that I first realized the human voice was my favourite instrument. I’d always known I loved singing, but it wasn’t until I heard the power and emotion in her voice that I realized how music could be life- changing.” Her passion for Thom Yorke is no less palpable. “THOM FUCKING YORKE. I love that guy! He has inspired me so much in terms of singing and genre experimentation. I’m a crazy-ass fan.”
Given her unabashed admiration for the Radiohead frontman, it’s unsurprising that NUNNE’s music weaves between so many different genres of music, creating a sound that is at once familiar but altogether fresh-sounding and difficult to pin down. What is equally refreshing is the revelation that not all of NUNNE’s music is as effortlessly created as singles like “Traffic” and “Runaway Cliché” would suggest. “Sometimes, I have so many ideas that come to mind that I end up mashing-up two completely different genres in a single song. Most of these songs end up in an archive, never to see the light of day, ‘cos they’re horrible! But from time to time, some stuff ain’t that bad.”
This humility is by no means a front. No stranger to collaboration, NUNNE is particularly altruistic when it comes to the artistic community, as exemplified in her creation of Radio Hypnotics: a playlist curation platform that helps promote independent artists. “It started when I realized how difficult it was to take off as an independent artist. The art industry is a very competitive place, and artists with great potential are often outshone by artists who are already popular, lessening their chances of being heard. This is why the idea to create a platform made specifically for emerging artists came to mind. Radio Hypnotics steps away from the clichés and values artists for their real talent.”
Despite her side-projects, a busy school semester, and no less than four collabs dropping before years end, NUNNE still found time in her busy schedule to share her motivation for choosing RAC for her production training. “You guys are just great at promoting yourselves,” she laughs. “But for real, I had been looking for a music/sound college that could give me all the tools I was looking for. I looked worldwide and couldn’t find any that seemed worth it, except RAC; it just popped out from the rest. I’m almost done with the first trimester and I feel like I’ve learnt so much! It has definitely been worth it.”