The Czech Republic artist Yana teases her upcoming debut album with the release of the fourth single “The Traveler”. Featuring Maurice Culligan of Interference the song creates an ethereal atmosphere with resonating strings, beautiful piano passages, and hypnotizing vocals. Maurice Culligan’s piano and vocals harmonizing with Yana give the song its mystical aura. The song has strong roots in the artist’s spiritual home Ireland and pays homage to the late Fergus O’Farrell, whom she considers a hero and looks up to for inspiration to this day. We had the opportunity to discuss the song directly with the artist. Check out the song and the artist’s insight below:
1. Could you tell us a bit about what the song “The traveler” is about? What’s the story and inspiration behind it?
YANA: This song is deeply personal, it is an homage to the late Fergus O’Farrell, frontman of Irish band Interference, who passed away in February 2016 after suffering from muscular dystrophy since early age. He was initially told he would be dead by 20 but he lived to 48. But as the condition progressed, he ended up in a wheelchair, lost the ability to play any instrument , it was attacking his voice towards the end. I don’t dare to imagine what he was going through on daily basis. But despite all this he remained incredibly positive and inspiring. I consider him my biggest influence and he is basically present in everything I do, guiding me through if you like.
2. What was your creative process like for this song? Did you have any specific theme in mind? Were you chasing any particular sound and did you face any creative challenges in the making of this song?
YANA: I see myself as a better lyricist than composer and I always write the lyrics first. In this case, the lyrics were written at Folk Holidays festival in Namest nad Oslavou, Czech Republic, in August 2018 when Interference returned to play the festival and tour the country after 11 years. It was a poignant time for everyone. And I could feel Ferg’s presence and his inspiration around more than ever I wanted the song to be an homage, not a tribute, I wanted to capture that optimistic outlook because this is simply who Ferg was. He didn’t want people to cry, he wanted them to laugh. I initially thought it would be me singing the song and playing the guitar on it but when an offer from Maurice Culligan, keyboard player of Interference, came along, we decided to leave it just as a piano track. It pulls all the heart strings. Having Maurice sing the lead is pretty symbolic to me, it cements the connection I have with the band. We are inseparable now. I have to say I had to go out of my comfort zone quite a bit during the recording but this is necessary in order to grow as an artist. And I am immensely grateful, it gave me so much and made me discover things I had no idea I am capable of.
3. In what aspects do you think your audiences are gonna connect with the song? Were there any personal messages you were trying to get across and do you think is it important for fans of your music to understand the real story and message driving each of your songs, or do you think everyone should be free to interpret your songs in their own personal way?
YANA: I think anybody who lost a loved one will connect with the song. Many people have said after hearing the song that on one hand it is deeply personal but on the other it is universal because it celebrates the life of loved one, expresses gratitude of having that person in your life and tends to look on the positives, how he lived and not how he died. It reminds me of the way people in Mexico celebrate their departed, with smile and a big party. Ferg would certainly love that.
I am delighted when the listeners connect with my songs in any shape or form. Yes, in cases like this, the inspiration and the story behind the song are very important, it helps to understand the deeper meaning of the whole thing.
4. Your songs tend to have a strong Irish influence. Being a Czech, how do your peers and listeners, in general, react to that? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?
YANA: We all have a place we feel we belong to, whether we were born there or not. For me it’s Ireland. But not the location as such, it is more about people and so it happens that my closest friends are on the island. People in the Czech Republic don’t really know me but those who do often say the Irish or Celtic influence is evident. Not mentioning the fact whoever hears me sing or speak often mentions the Irish accent.
I don’t think the origin of an artist really matters. What matters is the art itself. The message you are trying to transmit matters. The connection matters.
5. Do you have a favorite motto, phrase, or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
YANA: I have a few favorite mottos, one of them being a saying from Michael Flatley “If you have a dream and you are willing to work that dream, nothing is impossible.”
And the other is from the late Fergus O’Farrell, friend and hero I wrote this latest release for/about. He once said that in order to succeed you gotta have your bags packed to be ready to get on the train of luck once it arrives at the station. It is a beautiful way to put it.
I’m trying to live by the saying that life is too short to live someone else’s life. You should live your life to be happy with, not to satisfy others. Others may have different expectations and paths in life envisioned for you but you only have one life to live. And at the end of the day, we regret things we didn’t do instead of those we did.
The biggest goal in the near future is to release and properly launch my debut album. It is coming out at the end of April and it will be launched on May 15th in Coughlan’s, Cork, Ireland.
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