Electro-pop with smoother-than-butter vocals…
Years & Years by Ash Kingston for Clash issue 99

What with Tinder, Grindr, and all the other various permutations of online pairing cluttering up our smartphones, if you’re in need of a bandmate rather than a bedmate it’s just as easy. Which is how Mikey Goldworthy met synth-player Emre Turkmen.

“I put an ad online and Emre applied,” explains bassist Mikey. “Applied?” laughs an incredulous Emre. The missing piece of the puzzle – Olly Alexander, on vocals – slotted in after a chance meeting at a dinner party.

You may recognise Olly’s face, if not his voice. He played a stalker (Cassie’s, in Skins) and a frustrated musician (in Stuart Murdoch’s God Help The Girl), and appeared in a previous Clash film issue, but his efforts are now solely focused on Years & Years – who are chatting to Clash in an organic coffee shop in Hackney next to some taxidermy birds, having just returned from Bestival.

They rave about the experience, although cite their highlight as watching Chic soundcheck in the morning. “I was surprised they were so funky at 9am,” says Emre. “Funk only starts after 3pm,” nods Mikey.

The common denominator of their musical backgrounds is that they all began fairly young. Mikey is classically trained – his dad was a music teacher, and as a result played in various orchestras in his youth. Emre made beats in his room, aided by a tape machine, while Olly played the piano, composing a song for his year six assembly. “It was called ‘The Leaves Are Falling’, it had a really autumnal vibe,” he says with mock pretension. “No wonder I got bullied as a kid!”

Cool hunters Kitsuné have championed the trio thus far, releasing two EPs of theirs. Emre and Mikey are in charge of the melodic, textured beats that come bolstered by Olly’s soulful voice – soft yet powerful, it’s a bit like whispering into a megaphone. The band has also recently been lauded for a cover of Blu Cantrell and Sean Paul’s 2003 classic ‘Breathe’, a song etched in the memory of every ’90s baby.

The three boys have the release of their debut album to build up to and a headline tour after Christmas. “Mikey’s sex tape should be leaking then, too,” reveals Emre. “Just in time.” 

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WHERE: London

WHAT: Electro-pop with smoother-than-butter vocals

GET 3 SONGS: ‘Take Shelter’ (video above), ‘Breathe’, ‘Real’

FACT: As well as building bass notes, Emre builds buildings: he’s a trained architect.

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Words: Felicity Martin
Photo: Ash Kingston
Fashion: Shirley Amartey

Years & Years online

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