Ten minutes before the start of their performance at Scripps Band Night at the Motley last Friday, yOya’s keyboard player, Noah Dietterich, began warming up with a classic: “The Circle of Life”. Guitarist Alex Pfender looked on from offstage, nodding to event organizer Eden Olson SC ’12 in approval.
Dietterich’s playful warm-up offered a preview of yOya’s performance, which was certainly full of life. Despite the simplicity of their uniforms—white t-shirts and jeans to which they later added navy-colored military-style jackets sewn by Corey Jay SC ’12—Dietterich and Pfender delivered intricate harmonies, vibrant beats, and sparkling melodies.
The pair grew up in Corvallis, Oregon before moving to Southern California to study music—Pfender at USC and Dietterich at Pomona. Both graduated in 2009. yOya aims to mesh folk music with techno, and the result is a thoroughly dynamic set of songs, complete with Chicago-like energy and Simon and Garfunkel-esque poetry (“I would run away/ From the devil’s face/But I’m caught between the sheets/Tumbling and turning deliriously,” from the song “Feversleep”). The electronic tones provided by the keyboard and an MPC beat machine created a dreamy, cosmic sound.
Friday was yOya’s third performance at the Motley. Dietterich explained that the Motley’s existence as a “student space instead of an administrative one” allows for the attendance of “enthusiastic people” at their gigs. yOya played to a packed coffee house on Friday; the constant stream of entrances introduced a draft into the usually cozy building.
“A ton of my friends are here,” Dietterich said, pointing towards a group of people he had met during his studies in Claremont. “Everyone is really attentive and appreciative. We like it when they listen to us.”
Pfender provided some different reasons for the duo’s admiration of the Motley.
“I’m here for the Mexican hot chocolate. Plus, the last time we came here, there was a velvet couch on the stage, and we got to sit down on it and play,” he said. Pfender also voiced his satisfaction with Friday’s performance—and with the refreshments. “The chai was great! As was the Mexican hot chocolate. Both were primo.”
Dietterich laughed before explaining that the band does hope to come back again soon. yOya is planning a spring performance at Pomona.