Few local bands have a résumé as extensive as that of YIP YOPS.
After Tachevah appearances, multiple Jam in the Van sessions, a slot at Coachella and even an Independent cover story, YIP YOPS just released a new single, “Sinner,” and announced the Death of a Sinner Tour, which will take YIP YOPS all over the United States in October in support of bands Kongos and Fitness.
If you’ve somehow never seen a performance by YIP YOPS—now a duo featuring the vocals of Ison Van Winkle and the drums of Ross Murakami—you should expect eccentric, vibrant clothing that catches your eye and draws you in to witness the vivacious stage presence and staggering vocals of Van Winkle, backed by nostalgic ’80s synths … like if the B-52’s met Depeche Mode. My favorite tracks include “Head Home” and “Heavy Soul.”
During a recent interview, Van Winkle and Murakami said they were excited about the upcoming tour.
“We’ve never been to most of the places that we’re playing, so it’s going to be fun,” Murakami said. “We’ll be able to showcase our new music to brand-new fans and just see what happens!”
The release of “Sinner” was accompanied by a music video filled with visual effects galore.
“Both the song and the visuals play around with the idea of the internal struggle people have over whether or not they’re a good person,” Van Winkle said. “The chaotic and stark colors really help paint a story, and a lot of the footage was filmed in and around this shack where we create and record the music, so it’s very important to us.”
It’s the lifelong dream of many local musicians to reach levels of success that propel them from our hometown. I was curious to know how the Coachella Valley—with its wide array of international events—affected the YIP YOPS story.
“We haven’t played a whole lot here in the past couple of years, but in the early years of the band, there were quite a few opportunities for us, such as Tachevah, Coachella and some sold-out shows at the Hood,” Murakami said. “Those were kickstarters for us, and after Coachella, we had an easy place to start moving into different markets. L.A. has really been the main focus since then. We’re still living in the valley, though.”
Added Van Winkle: “Coachella and those other shows were where we really got a sense for our passion for music and for what we’re doing today.”
While the big bucket-list shows have been great for YIP YOPS, Murakami and Van Winkle said smaller shows have made a bigger impact on them.
“One of the shows that meant a lot to me was our last residency show at the Echoplex in L.A.” said Murakami. “We were there every Monday in July last year, and those were just eye openers to see what our crowd was like in L.A. By the end of the residency, we were packing out the 800 (capacity).
Added Van Winkle: “One of the most memorable shows was one we did in Garden Grove at the Locker Room. Most of our shows are 21-plus, so it’s tough to bring our own age group in. At this show, though, it felt like everyone in the room was exactly who the songs were meant for, and everyone was going just as crazy as us. Even though it was only 30 to 40 people, it felt really good and really organic.”
On the topic of those 21-and-over shows, Murakami commented: “We’re still having to deal with that. I’m 23, and Ison’s 20, so it’s still a problem. A number of the L.A. venues have strict rules, and it’s such a bummer. We have a lot of friends that want to come see us, but we can barely get Ison in.”
The band doesn’t only receive attention for its sound; the name often gets the duo notice as well. (We won’t talk about the brief period during which the band was called IIIZ.)
“We went through hundreds of names to try to find the one that sticks out. It was just a phrase that was thrown around,” Van Winkle said. “We didn’t really know what it meant. It’s not even actual words, but it stuck. When we were 14, it had this playful energy to it, and we still can relate to it.”
Added Murakami: “I personally wasn’t a big fan of the name, but the band makes the name. You could have the craziest, dumbest name, and if the band is energetic and crazy, it makes the name more energetic and crazy. I think it’s been working for us, and we’re pretty happy with what it’s turned into as the band has evolved.”
“Sinner” is the first release from the YIP YOPS since 2018’s “She.”
“You’ll have to stay tuned for an album, but we are releasing another single in early October, and we’re going to do another run to Seattle in November,” said Murakami.
Van Winkle said the duo is holding back a lot of music.
“We’ve yet to release a whole lot of music, since we’re doing it all ourselves, so we want to make sure we’re as ready for the record as possible,” he said. “With the singles, we’re trying to experiment a bit. The four-piece going down to a two-piece really expands the horizons on what we allow ourselves to do, and we’re seeing what works. A lot of our stuff is run on tracks. We don’t want to hold ourselves back on what the music can sound like just because of how many people are in the band. A lot of people are open to track-heavy bands, like The Garden.”
Added Murakami: “Even hip hop! It started with the DJs, and it evolved into another way to round out the sound live. It works for us, and it fits us.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/yipyops.