Indie Yawn evolves sound with new CD

By David Orlikoff

Like a mix between Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend, Yawn is Chicago’s own layered, electronic tribal pop group. Founded in high school under a different name, they started gaining attention while touring as Metrovox. But just when there was developing interest, they decided it was time for a change. They started listening to artists like Aphex Twin, Animal Collective and The Avalanches, experimented with psychedelics and bought new, electronic equipment. Yawn was born.

A few months ago, they released their first E.P. for free on their Web site,, and have been aggressively hitting the concert scene with a series of free and cheap shows. You can catch them Feb. 5 at Post in Pilsen,1816 S. Racine Ave., or Valentine’s Day at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave.. I rode along with Adam Gil (vocals, keyboard, guitar) and Daniel Perzan (samplers, toms, bass, guitar), while Gil was delivering for Piece Pizzeria and talked about their evolving sound, the climate of the industry and their love-hate relationship with Animal Collective.

The Chronicle: The first E.P. was mostly tight, almost pop songs, but you experiment and sample a lot on the “Bits and Pieces Mixtapes.” What will the second E.P. sound like?

Daniel Perzan: We like the idea of sampling, there’re no limitations to the sound we can get. It creates textures that you would usually have to be in a studio or have access to a lot of equipment to get. Have you heard “Acid”? That’s pretty much all samples.                                                                                                                                                                                      Adam Gil: I don’t think the songs on this E.P. will be as short and structured as the last E.P. I think it will be a little more of that long, free flow feel like “Acid” has. Or maybe just one part will drag out a bit longer.

The Chronicle: Will you continue to change your sound with each release? You already had a dramatic shift going from Metrovox to Yawn.

AG: I think we’ll definitely keep changing. That’s one thing—the only thing we’ve settled on. We like this method right now with a bunch of sampling, random switching of instruments and computer work. I think maybe that will stay the same, but inspirations for songs and creativity will change. I think we get sick of our old stuff way too quickly to stay on the same thing. This next E.P. isn’t going to be as happy or as sunny. It will be a little more down tempo, a little dark. There is one kind of dance track, but even that’s got this weird feel to it.

The Chronicle: Were you upset people were calling the first E.P. sunny and bright?

DP: Not at all, that’s what it was. It was a pivotal transition going from Metrovox to Yawn, especially because Adam and I moved in together. We started living there and working on music and doing it every day, compared to getting together twice a week to jam. It was a really refreshing fun time and that translated to the music. AG: It should have been out summer, but we were just too busy having fun.

The Chronicle: Will the second E.P. be winter blues-inspired?

AG: A little bit, more like fall. We really wanted it to be fall but somebody already did that … f***ing Animal Collective. DP: We had that idea going into it, to do a seasonal thing based on the harsh Chicago seasons. Nobody else has that really.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                AG: Then we read on Pitchfork they were going to do it. Oh my god! DP: One step ahead, always. AG: And the weird thing was we were listing to [Animal Collective’s] “Fall Be Kind,” and the song, “On a Highway,” had the same chord progression that Sam had come up with a while ago. And he was like, “You’ve got to be f***ing kidding me!” And we all just decided, alright, we’ve got to stop listening to these guys. We’ll start living vicariously through them.

The Chronicle: The one song “Acid” from the second E.P. is leaked on Facebook?

AG: Yeah! Why’d you do that so early? DP: I dunno, I was so excited!

The Chronicle: Well what can you tell us about the second E.P.?

DP: We don’t have a name, we do have the songs we want to record and we are working almost around the clock to get them recorded. It’s really hard to say when it’s going to drop. We don’t know how many complications we’re going to run into. We recorded one, which is “Acid,” that’s pretty much done. And Adam is working on “Yum Yum” and I’m starting to lay down the bass for “Magician,” so if we just continue on this tempo, we’ll probably have it by late March or sometime around April.

The Chronicle: Is it going to be available free online like the first one?

DP: Yeah, most definitely. I don’t think people are going to buy our music just yet. Especially because we got a lot of positive feedback, I think primarily because it was free. But if we continue with that, I think eventually people will like us enough to throw down $8 for an E.P. or album or whatever, maybe up to $10.

The Chronicle: Can you talk about what happened with Gimme That Sound Records as Metrovox? Why didn’t you guys ultimately sign a contract?

AG: We recorded with Stephen George [founding member of Ministry] first at Wall to Wall Studios before we ever signed anything. Then we heard it a little later and weren’t too happy with it. And he wanted like a 50/50 split with all the sales and merchandise and stuff. We just weren’t excited about the project and weren’t happy about the deal. Plus the lawyers, it was such a f**king hassle to get the lawyers to do anything. So we just thought it wasn’t worth it anymore. We had already started listening to new stuff making new stuff. DP: And now we have computers, we spent a few hundred bucks on Mics and boxes and we did the whole E.P. in our apartment for literally nothing. In the end, I think Stephen George’s intentions were on key, but it was all the actual expenses and we’d probably never see a dime. AG: And another thing was he was old and his production ideas were totally different from ours. One thing we realized recording on your own is that you’ve got to do production yourself. At least for us, now it makes so much more sense because we know what we want to hear and we know generally how to make it. And that in itself is so much better than some old dude in a studio. DP: His track record is good for recording R. Kelly and Lil John but were not R. Kelly. We’re not that, so it didn’t really work for us, those really compressed straight forward-sounding radio qualities.

The Chronicle: Can you request Adam to deliver your pizza?

AG: Definitely. If it’s slow enough they will do it, but if it’s busy like right now, they can’t really guarantee you a driver. But I’ve had that happen, where the band had requested me or some other people had. They are pretty cool with it. DP: Then a porno breaks out when you deliver one. [Everyone laughs]