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.



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