As a truly refined creator of ambient electro-pop music, I had a chat with Kurt to find out what set him on the path of becoming an emerging producer and singer-songwriter.
Kurt Sines is the Brisbane-based creative behind Yoste. While his story started off in a â€œa very bad pop punk band at the local street festivalâ€, Kurt quickly ditched writing â€œGreen Day knock-offsâ€ for a more refined sound. Although his music took time to mature, Kurt is open to how his music began as a front to impress his friends. â€œIt definitely started just to impress my friends and the more and more I do run with music as a project, the more it actually becomes a long-term career,â€ he tells me. â€œOn a daily basis itâ€™s all about trying to impress the people around me in a lot of ways and the motivation is a little bit intrinsic â€“ itâ€™s a cathartic thing.â€
On Kurtâ€™s Spotify biography lies a quote from Philip Larks; â€œLife is first boredom, then fearâ€, a line he clearly relates to. â€œI feel now as if Iâ€™m coming out of the other side of a very prolonged period of pure existential dread which lasted about three years,â€ he explains. â€œI was just grappling with the general sense of purposelessness and futility and a little bit of fear about what all of it means. All of that followed pretty strong into the music and what I wanted to do with the projectâ€. Despite his success, itâ€™s clear the pressure of being a young producer is a prominent personal anxiety.
On an existential tangent, it was interesting to hear Kurt explain his relationship with mental health. â€œEarly twenties, you feel so strongly that you should be doing something impactful. You should know what you want to do, you should be in control of your finances, your purpose, your art, and then just looking to the end, mortality, and wondering what the impact will have been, if anything. I suppose thatâ€™s why the Philip Larkin quote hit me hard. Just the knowledge of mortality as a beautiful thing rather than something to be feared. I feel like Iâ€™m treading more in that direction.â€
When it comes to music, Yoste weaves a very calming, mellow sound. I ask Kurt if that direction was intentional. â€œIt was something I settled into. I think lyrical content is super important to give the depths to the tracks. I always like lyrics that are kind of visual or quirky or interesting, not necessarily purely a narrative thatâ€™s easy to follow,â€ he says. â€œI did want to make things, initially, mellow that someone might be able to have on repeat for an hour, just pay to attention to or not. But, definitely now, Iâ€™m trying to write things that are self-contained and tending slightly towards the pop and alternative pop world because I think thatâ€™s a really powerful vehicle for conveying emotion.â€
When it comes to new music, Kurt has a lot for you to explore. His recently released single, â€˜Arcâ€™ is his self-proclaimed favourite. â€œIt is the closest of those songs to my ideal in terms of having few enough elements, so it doesnâ€™t get cluttered, but enough so that itâ€™s interesting,â€. He continues to outline how the song is â€œa little bit more optimisticâ€ and seems to offer â€œan answer to all the existential answers that I have been wrestling with throughout the rest of the songsâ€. It sounds like Kurt has found comfort in the ambitious. â€œEven if that answer is: â€œIâ€™m okay with not having an answerâ€, and ultimately, finding comfort in a moment or a person. I like the optimism of that.â€
Another hit-track of Kurtâ€™s is Danny Godwin collaboration â€˜Sideâ€™. Kurt outlines the story of how the remix came to be. â€œIt just came about by Danny, who goes by Godwin, emailing my managers. It was quite as simple as that,â€ he laughs. â€œIâ€™m pretty strict about what I say yes to. Just because Iâ€™m not really interested in remixing, generally, or writing for other people, or producing for other people. Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™ll do a whole lot of it, but I did really like that track and thought it was lovely.â€ While Kurt isnâ€™t all too fond of producing, it seems a perfect combination fell up on him. â€œIt was also largely as a result of the particular circumstancesâ€”I had a window, I had the time and I wanted to give it a shot.â€
Following the release of new singles, I ask Kurt if we can expect any new music. â€œWell, the first EP is done, and thatâ€™s coming out, and thatâ€™s definite,â€ he tells me. â€œIâ€™m working on my second one and Iâ€™m really loving it. The first one was made over the period of a few years and it was at times really torturous. I was coming up with nothing for months and it was just terrible. And then I made â€˜Arcâ€™ and that kind of set me on the right path again. As of the last two months, Iâ€™ve just had total creative inspiration and clarity of vision. Iâ€™ve been in my studio for hours and hours forgetting to eat. Just total flow state for hours and hours, really fun creative stuff, and smashed out six tracks which I really, really, like.â€
Iâ€™m all for nuance, but thereâ€™s not enough nuance these days, and thatâ€™s a problem.
Elaborating on the second EP, Kurt is confident in his evolution â€œItâ€™s definitely leaning a little bit more towards pop and I suppose alternative pop, but theyâ€™ll still sound like Yoste songs. They still have the textural, ambient elements and the kind of raw vocals,â€ he tells me. â€œThe first EP is the starting point, because itâ€™ll be comprised of the singles we talked about and then some new music. Itâ€™ll kind of be the first springboard, and I really like that because those are the songs that started it all. And then the second EP will be a lot more cohesive.â€
Last of all, I ask Kurt if we can expect any touring. â€œI definitely am considering going further!â€ he says excitedly. â€œIâ€™m almost certainly gonna be in the US for quite a bit of time this year and hopefully in the UK once or twice, and Europe, so definitely starting to turn my eye towards international shows.â€