You Need to Know Her: Nilüfer Yanya Dazzles in NPR ‘Tiny Desk’ Performance, Quarantine Edition



If you hadn’t heard of her, this is your lucky day.

Brit songstress and fast rising young talent Nilüfer Yanya‘s ability to create adventurously kaleidoscopic soundscapes that draw from raw nerves, a beating heart and a seemingly open-ended eclectic mix of indie pop, post-punk, soul and jazz is no easy feat. It was her 2019 Miss Universe long player that definitively established her as this rarified artist worthy of keeping company with the likes of St. Vincent, Karen O, Mitski and Fiona Apple; and it had music scribes tripping over their thesauruses to describe the ineffable wonder of it all. (Pitchfork, Billboard and Stereogum all listed the album as one of the year’s best.)

With mixed heritage that spans from Ireland to Turkey to the Caribbean, Yanya’s riveting voice pushes and pulls the listener into a unique world taut with emotional highs and lows. Her scope ranges from the hypnotic, pulsing trip-hop of “Baby Blu” to the edgy alt-rock of “In Your Head” (which sounds like she’s consciously nodding to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) to the stark—lone guitar and vox—beauty of “Monsters Under The Bed.”



Turbulent times these be. Here, Stateside, the whacking of the proverbial hornet’s nest has created a new world disorder—the likes of which history provides no precedent for. Likewise, with a worldwide pandemic, musicians and media are hurriedly scouting for new and creative ways to connect to the restlessly hunkered-down masses. Quarantine tele-concerts have become the prevailing solution.

Leave it to the exalted/beloved NPR music series Tiny Desk to remain equally vital and substantial for such an unstable time in our history. And Ms. Yanya’s intimate showcase for TD proves it an ideal platform for an artist whose versatile talents enable her to captivate in such stark/basic setting (the great ones always shine in stripped-down form). For corona-wearied music lovers looking for something brilliant and fresh to revive their beaten down spirits, it is a much needed shot of visceral, cultural life.



New Track by Sweden’s Freja the Dragon is a Tribute to Healthcare Workers Across the Globe



As a way of giving back and clearly stating what most truly empathetic humans feel (and despite the never-ending tumult of mind-boggling tweets from our recalcitrant narcissist-in-chief), the new single by Sweden’s Freja The Dragon, “Give You All My Love,” is a heart-on-the-sleeve thank you to all of the healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis around the world. It is also currently being featured in the Northwell Health ad campaign saluting those same workers.

FTD is actually the alter ego and solo project of singer-songwriter and producer Freja Drakenberg, who on this track has collaborated with Peter Bjorn and John bassist Björn Yttling (it’s also released on the Stockholm trio’s label INGRID). Together, they’ve created a visceral slice of Scandinavian pop, driven by a haunting, yet stark piano backdrop. (Freja’s debut EP Long Gone Girl will be out May 8.)



Given the clamor and chaos of today’s 24/7 internet-connected populace, the continuous heroic achievements of so many altruistic “essential workers” has seemed to go largely unheralded. Drakenberg keenly understands the reality of such an imbalance, and in classic artistic form has responded with the gift of music.

She explains, “My song is inspired by the courage, bravery and resilience of so many heroes—all the healthcare workers in New York and across the globe who are fighting tirelessly to save lives. It is with my deepest love and appreciation that I dedicate it to them.”

For those living in New York City, plan to play the song out your window at 7pm on any given evening, to further honor their heroism.