- Doug Johnstone
- 11 June 2009
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Sun 21 Jun
Twenty-six-year-old London-born saxophonist YolanDa Brown is already remarkably successful, winning a MOBO award last year and collaborating with Alexander O’Neil, Mica Paris and The Temptations, all on the back of just two self-released EPs. Here she gives us an insight into her world.
Your music seems to be influenced by every genre imaginable, how did that come about?
‘I grew up listening to absolutely everything – folk music, Greek music, my parents are Jamaican so I heard a lot of reggae, but also classical, jazz and everything in between. I didn’t go out to piece together these genres in my music; that’s just my natural rhythm. Sometimes I try and focus on one genre, but other rhythms keep coming back in, like putting a Latin vibe into a reggae song.’
How did you discover the saxophone?
‘I grew up playing a range of instruments, starting on the piano aged six. I also played the violin, drums and recorder, but there’s something about wind instruments, playing through them feels like you’re playing more from within yourself. When I got introduced to the saxophone it felt like a natural extension of me, like my voice. I could communicate and express my feelings best through it.’
You won the MOBO last year for Best Jazz Act, beating the likes of Courtney Pine, how did that feel?
‘The whole evening was a big blur. I went thinking it would be a good night, maybe an opportunity to network, that was all. I was nominated against some huge artists who I’d looked up to as a kid, it was incredible to be in the same room as them. To win was amazing, especially because it was a public vote, that’s what overwhelmed me the most.’
You also have two MAs, teach business studies and are finishing a PhD at Kent University, how does that fit in with music?
‘I’m definitely interested in both, I can’t choose between them so I just have to make the time for both. But the music is going to take precedence once the PhD is finished, because playing saxophone is my calling.’