Kansas City based band Yes You Are is an interesting collection of incredible performers.With vibrancy in their stage presence and energy in every note they play, we have no doubt in our minds that they are hellbent on taking over the galaxy. (Have you SEEN that style?) Their story is inspiring, their sound unique, and their personalities? Well, you kind of want to be best friends with them after experiencing it all.
Besides that, the band has had a whirlwind couple of months. After rockin’ it at Afentra’s VD Party in February, they have been hitting stages like crazy. A little trip to SXSW and performing at the Midcoast Takeover Showcase aside, they have a pretty interesting spring and summer ahead of them.
Luckily, we were able to nab an interview with lead singer Kianna Alarid, who is just the sweetest. Her interests are vast, so this interview is sure to keep you on your toes. Without further ado, it’s time to get to know your new favorite band, Yes You Are.
MOSHERY: If you could introduce Yes You Are to our readers in any way, with money not being a factor, how would you do so?
Kianna Alarid: It turns out that Elvis Presley and John Lennon are actually alive and well. This is obviously the biggest news story across the world. In their first joint press conference, rather than answer any of the questions being put to them, they would instead rant on and on about how much they love the new band Yes You Are and that they actually came out of hiding after all this time because of what Yes You Are is doing. After about a half hour of that they’d toss it over to us and we’d play a riveting debut performance, broadcast across the world to billions of people. That’d probably get some attention.
M: THAT is the most inspired response we’ve gotten so far! KUDOS! Where do you each originally hail from? How do you think that has aided in shaping who you are and how you live your lives?
Kianna: We’re all from the heartland. The boys are from Kansas City, Lawrence and Marysville, KS and I’m from Omaha, Nebraska. It’s different to launch a global vision from the midwest, away from the bustling cities and the endless opportunities they provide. When we started this journey we took solace in the fact that a lot of heroes–current, historical and mythological–came from the middle of nowhere and rose to great heights. In a way it creates a chip on our shoulder in that we are determined to be major league all stars, no matter how difficult it seems. The Kansas state motto is “Per Aspera Ad Astra” which means “To The Stars Through Difficulty.” We relate to that. Right now we’re Steph Curry at Davidson, but soon we’ll be Steph Curry at Golden State. We have insane faith, discipline and commitment toward what we’re doing. It creates a very dreamlike, swirling, destiny feeling to everything we do.
M: Holy cow. Your sports references are ON POINT, woman! How old were you when you started getting into music? What is your musical background like?
Kianna: Jared’s grandmother was a music teacher and taught him piano lessons from a very early age, so he had that foundation there, but he remembers a pivotal moment occurred when, at age 12 he passed by a tv and heard Bob Dylan sing “And you who philosophize, disgrace and criticize all fears…” from Dylan’s song “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carole.” Something came alive on the inside of him when he heard those words and he went home and immediately started playing around on a guitar his dad had. He wrote his first songs that day.
A while back I’d felt like the first time I ever sang was at about age 22 when I first tried karaoke. It had been interesting to realize that I could actually sing and had naturally good pitch and control. But more recently my mom reminded me that when I was in elementary school, my best friend and I used to sing pop songs along with fully choreographed dance routines every single year at the talent shows around the area. Then I also recalled that I had written my first song at about age 11 called “Nobody’s Perfect.” I remembered the lyrics, the melody and everything. I don’t know how I forgot about all that.. life is strange indeed.
M: We’re kind of curious about that song now, though. How did you all get in cahoots? Tell us about how you became “Yes You Are.”
Kianna: Jared and I comprise the nucleus of Yes You Are. Like any two parts of a whole, we’ve been drawn to each other our entire lives, though we never knew it. In 2010, after my former band Tilly and the Wall went on hiatus, I moved to Kansas City and began searching for the perfect writing partner to collaborate with on a new project. I started three different bands and tried various writing partners over the course of two years and even traveled to Sweden to work with Christoffer Berg (The Knife/Fever Ray/Depeche Mode) before finally meeting Jared.
Jared and I had a mutual friend on Facebook and we’d made our first connection on a thread of comments about some weird theory about Jesus being an alien or something like that. He started messaging me, we soon realized we were both very into a lot of the same esoteric-type subjects and really connected on that. He later told me he had known who I was from Tilly and the Wall and had actually been interested in possibly collaborating with me but he pretended like he didn’t know I was even a musician. We didn’t even talk about music or anything for weeks as the stuff we were talking about was very interesting and actually… life changing. The subject of music eventually came up somehow and we quickly started trading lyrics and song ideas. We wrote our first together before we ever met in person but we’d already become completely bonded though the deep conversations we’d been having and the way that we’d affected each others lives. By the time we met, we had two songs we felt were super special and at that point there was no denying we’d found our perfect partners for our ultimate dream project. So, the title of Jared and Kianna’s meeting could be called “Internet Stalking: A Success Story”.
We quickly wrote about 20 songs and chose 12 to make demos for. Then we had to put a band together. Jared’s good friend Jacob had been helping with mixing our demos and as he is also an amazing piano, keyboard and guitar player, he was our first recruit. Then their mutual friend Joseph was our first choice for a drummer and although he turned down the gig at first, he later came around admitting that his ex-girlfriend hadn’t wanted him to do it but now that they’d parted ways, he was 100% ready and committed.
The last piece was finding our bass player, we had zero ideas. Then one evening, after having brainstormed ways to find the right person, we went to Friends Sushi restaurant for happy hour and Jared immediately felt like he knew the kid who was filling the water glasses at our table. We talked to him for a while and though it didn’t seem to be possible that they’d ever met, the feeling never left Jared. Then on a whim I asked him what he did besides bus tables. He said he was a musician. I looked around the table at everyone, knowingly, and they all caught my drift. I then asked him “What do you play?” He said bass guitar. We all just nodded in silence and he went on to the next table to do his job. We left him a note that said “We want you to play in our band.” and it had my name and phone number. He called about an hour later, came to rehearsal with us the next day and has been our bass player from that moment on. I mean, he could have been awful, but no, he is a classically trained bass player who is also insanely fun to watch onstage. This is the way we prefer life to work.
M: That’s AMAZING. Isn’t it crazy fate intervenes? Plus, not everyone is a Craigslist Killer! (Good to know.) What people serve as the ultimate inspirations for Yes You Are’s music?
Kianna: Bob Dylan, Alan Moore, William Blake, the lyrics of Robert Hunter. We are just inspired by the ultimate champions of every field… Stella Adler, John Glenn, Ronda Rousey, Nate Diaz, Salvador Perez.
M: Salvy! Yes! Well, what are your favorite things to do/places to go/people to see in Kansas City? Give the travelers and the dreamers something to write home about!
Kianna: One thing we all like doing is going to a Kansas City Royals baseball game. We all love and respect them as people and players and their World Series runs and win meant a lot to us. There is nothing like being at “The K” and hearing the crack of the bat. Baseball is a mystical experience.. the metaphors abound.
M: We couldn’t agree more! Top songs you’re listening to right now. GO!
M: Awesome. And what is the best video you’ve ever seen?
Kianna: This is our favorite video right now. All the best things happen at midnight…
M: Haha! AMAZING! If Yes You Are could tour with anyone—living or deceased—who would it be, and why?
Kianna: Definitely Bob Dylan. We think we’ve cracked his mysterious code and it’d be nice to talk to him about it.
M: What is one thing that you think is underappreciated in this world?
Kianna: The invisible half of the cosmos whose secrets are able to be discovered by man.
M: Fair enough. What kind of advice do you have for creators and artists everywhere?
Kianna: You must resolve to be the very best there’s ever been at whatever it is you’ve been called to do. Not only do we owe this to all the masters who’ve gone before us but when you declare, believe and set out to become the very best of all time, something very mysterious happens to you. Everyone is a creator and artist and everyone has the right and ability to invoke true inspiration. Only those with expansive vision will get to really see, so set your bars high and make your goals huge. If your vision is small, you’ll receive small inspiration. Trust me.
M: Batman or Superman?
Kianna: Superman, because his earthly hometown is in Kansas just like our band. I like how Clark Kent is seemingly nonthreatening but could easily destroy an army. I love the idea of being underestimated, yet knowing full well what you really are and what you can really do. Superman also represents an otherworldly being on earth. That’s what’s up.
M: After all the space talk, we figured you’d go Superman. I mean, you’re right. That’s what’s up. Back on topic… what makes you want to be a part of the music world?
Kianna: For a long time I felt like I had stumbled into the music world by chance. I’d always thought I just happened to be able to write a song and just happened to be able to sing pretty well and many people just happened to like it. Like it was luck. Back then it wasn’t passion, it was a cool job. One day it dawned on me that I’d been a professional musician for over 10 years.. that I’d actually learned to sing really well, that I’d honed my performances into something special, that I’d found myself right at home and alive onstage and that I made a living doing it. I realized my purpose and that nothing in my life has been an accident or coincidence.
I don’t believe in luck anymore, I don’t believe in coicidence. I believe everyone has purpose and if you take a close look at your life and do honest research within yourself you will find that you already know what your purpose is. When you know your purpose, you become filled with passion and open to the current of true inspiration. It’s why we wake up excited every single day. We have something to do. We’ll do it regardless of anything or anyone for all of our earthly visit.
M: Thank goodness, too! What’s up next for Yes You Are?
Kianna: We are currently finishing our debut album. When that’s done we plan to release it and tour the world!
Meredith has spent her life pin balling across America. She is often referred to as an entrepreneur, photographer, writer, and multi-media maven. She would label herself “butcher,” “baker,” and “candlestick maker.” (Hint: One of these is not true.) She is currently trying to find the perfect design for the DIY ukelele her twin gave her for Christmas. You can find her random musings on Twitter and Instagram @MerelyGrace.