Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I.M. A Popstar: An Interview with YYZ

Well, I guess you're surprised that this little blog managed to get an interview with a popstar, aren't you? Well clearly, NSOTPop is going places because I managed to get a hold of the lead singer of one of my favorite up and coming pop acts!

YYZ are a Canadian-British electropop outfit that make some of the most vibrant and frenetic music this side of the decade. Made up of two producers and front woman Ali McNally, the lovely woman in that image above, the group set out to conquer the dance floor. You may have seen them on the blog before as they are responsible for one of the best songs of last year before signing with Universal Canada. Then, without any warning, YYZ casually dropped possible Single Of the Year "I Wanna Be With You." So here is my little talk with Ali on Facebook about YYZ's future!

Hey Ali, are you free to talk right now?


Wonderful! We can start right now.


How has your day been going so far?

Not too bad thanks! Taking it pretty easy. Went to the gym, now speaking to you. Been getting over Tokyo jet lag!

That jet lag must be rough, what exactly has the time difference done to your sleep?

Well it's a 14 hour time difference(!) We have been getting tired mega early, waking up mega early (like pre sunrise) and waking up lots during the night.

Oh dear, that sounds terrible, although if I were to go over to Tokyo now, I think my vampire schedule would put me on track as soon as I got there!

Hahaha student life?

Student and New York nightlife combined :) Anyway, you're the lead singer of amazingly brilliant group YYZ! First things first, what exactly do those initials mean?

YYZ is actually the airport code for my hometown of Toronto.

Interesting, I think I knew that because every time I would Wikipedia you guys that would pop up!

Ha no doubt that and the Rush song

Very true. What made you decide to focus on YYZ, considering you and the other members Dan and Ed already had other projects before?

Well, it felt like the project Dan and I had been working on had reached its natural conclusion. We were both listening to and being inspired by music that was more dance/pop so it felt like a step in that direction was a totally organic one.

Ed's remix of Nicola Roberts "Beat of My Drum" is really something. Did Ed joining help you decide the sound that is YYZ or was there always a vision since the beginning?

I think the vision was always there between Dan and I, right from the beginning of the project. The addition of Ed just helped it all come to fruition.

Well I first heard of you when Popjustice featured your group as song of the day. "Lost In The Mix" really was something special! Would you say that it was the breakthrough single?

It was the first single we released, and I think it helped get the attention of Universal Canada. To date it's still one of my favorite YYZ tracks to play live.

The video was kind of bonkers, did you enjoy the process of making a party video?

Absolutely! I enjoyed every element of making that video. the director and producer came over from the UK and are good friends of mine and I styled the whole video, which was a lot of work but super fun. It was great to hang out and interact with the cast and the whole days was a lot of fun, basically.

That's fabulous! Your style is very en pointe I must say.

Ahhhhh thank you! I worked as a stylist in London and I love clothes!

Living the dream clearly! Now that you're signed with Universal Canada, have you relocated to Toronto?

Yes and no! I'm all over the place at the moment but I suppose mostly between Toronto and New Orleans at the minute

Interesting! What have you been up to in New Orleans?

My fella's down here and it's only a 2.5 hour flight from Toronto…plus it never gets cold! :)

I've heard! All right, 2014 saw the release of YYZ's brand new single "I Wanna Be With You" Now I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've listened to the song at least 20 times a day since it has come out! Is this the first taste of what YYZ's album will sound like?

Definitely! It's one of the older tracks from our arsenal but it's very indicative of what's still to come.

Oh dear god, that's amazing! It does sound kind of like the Girls Aloud comeback single everyone wanted, but your vocals really do make the track.

Awww thank you! And I was always a massive Girls Aloud fan, so I will take the compliment!

Have you thought about reaching out to their producers like Xenomania, or even the Ginger Queen herself Nicola Roberts?! That would make for a definite album of the year.

That's a great idea actually. And Nicola is definitely my have Girl Aloud.

That was one of my questions! I'm more of a Sarah kind of guy but Nicola's parts were always the best. I especially loved the old school arcade motif for the IWBWY videos, how did you guys come up with that?

It was a weird coincidence, I'd been working on the lyric video with my sister (who did the artwork) and we happened to get a treatment in for the official video that was really in line with it. We couldn't say no! And the lyric video was borne of old PC games that I loved playing as a kid…

Well it was brilliantly executed! Now, there was about a year long gap between "Lost In The Mix" and "I Wanna Be With You." Will the YYZ nation have to wait that long for new music?

Hopefully not! We have another single already earmarked so fingers crossed it will be with you soon!

Fantastic! And do you have any idea when album might be out? You still have two months of Q4 to pull a Beyoncé.

I wish! In all likelihood we are looking at 2015. But if it was up to me it would be now, I'm impatient.

As all good popstars should be! Well, would you be up for some fast lightning round questions?

But of course! Fire away!

Pick your favorite Robyn: Robyn Fenty or Robyn Carlsson?

Robyn Fenty. But that was a hard question.

No one said pop would be easy.

Ha! I just felt like I betrayed the other Robyn!

Sweden or Australia?


Favorite One Direction member?

Pass? Lol. Harry because he's the only one whose name I know.

Haha the Directioners will eat you alive for that one.

Eeeeee good point. Harry Styles! Best name ever.

True that. If you were going to dye your hair, what would you do?


Are you Fancy?

Not really, ha!

Oh no! I was hoping you would say "YOU ALREADY KNOW!"

Man, that song. I loved Iggy a lot harder before that song.

Awww really? That's been my jam for most of the summer, but mainly the Charli XCX bits.

The chorus saves it.

What is the one makeup product you can't live without?

Red lipstick. MAC Lady Danger or Ruby Woo.

Could you write Lady Gaga her next hit single?

I'd love to try!

Could you write Adele her next hit single?

Hmmmmmm maybe less so. Different sensibility. But if there's money involved I'd take a crack at it!

Oh god, but imagine her doing a whole dance floor makeover! It would be killer, another year long number 1 for sure.

You're right. I'd give it a go.

Fantastic! Who is one dream collaborator you would work with?

A Madonna duet, a la Britney? Please?

I'll signal the Twitterverse immediately.

Or Nas.

Those are two very different sides of the pop spectrum, but that would be amazing nonetheless. What is your favorite guilty pleasure TV show?


Hahahaha is that still a show? I thought that stopped airing ages ago.

It lives on in reruns in perpetuity. Forever. It's a late night guilty pleasure.

Fair enough. What do you consider to be the best album of 2014?

OMG I'm so bad what's come out this year?

That Tove Lo album was pretty fantastic.

Shit I haven't heard that, I've been meaning to.

Ariana Grande, La Roux's is pretty killer, Queen of Hearts, Foxes, Lana Del Slay.

Do you like Ultraviolence?

I do, but I have to be in a pretty specific mood to listen to it.

Right? I much preferred Born To Die I think. Far more accessible album.

Agreed but it seems like everyone is jut trying to make the album "that is really true to artistic vision and comes from the soul" and all that.

You think?

Yeah, it's not the worst thing in the world but we get to the last Lady Gaga and Britney Spears albums and you saw how that turned out. Sometimes you just need the catchy hits vs. something super personal. But that's just me. So I'll just put you down as tentatively loving the Tove Lo album.

Yeah do that! Ha! Or wait let's say ScHoolboy Q! I just remembered that came out this year.

Interesting. Side note: it seems like you love hip-hop and rap a lot more than it seems. Is that something we'll hear on future tracks?

Yeah everyone seems surprised to find out it has always been my favorite genre of music, with pop as a close second. i wish I could indulge it more with my own work but I don't think the world wants or needs a half Chinese half Irish female emcee :'(

On the contrary, I think that's exactly what the world needs, what if you rapped over an Italo disco song?! It would be like Azealia Banks vs. Madonna!

Shit that would be cool. Although I think Azealia's got me beat on flow. She's better than people give her credit for and I LOVED Heavy Metal Reflective.

We'll work on it, but maybe save it for the third "experimental" album :D
All right, final question and probably the most important so choose carefully: What is your favorite Kylie Minogue song?

*Wait for it*

Easy! Love At First Sight, I've karaoked it many times.


*we continued by having a giant gush fest*

I always tell people that "Love At First Sight" would be my first dance at my wedding, but no one knows it!

Nobody knows it? It's a classic! Tell you what, if Kylie can't make it to your wedding to sing it, I'll do the honors!

OMG I'm gonna hold you to that!

Please do! I'm a woman of my word.

Thank you so much Ali for this amazing interview!

Ha! Thank YOU! It was an absolute pleasure!

So there you have it! An wonderful interview with a wonderful woman. YYZ can only make the pop world better and hopefully, we hear some more music very soon. Be on the lookout for their debut album in 2015, which is sure to be the most danceable album of the year! Till next time, kisses!

YYZ on Facebook
YYZ on Twitter
YYZ Official Website

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