Why? Front Man Yoni Wolf Talks His New Release & Living With His Folks

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Whereas Lena Dunham has only recently become a lightning rod for her personal exploration of #FirstWorldProblems, Yoni Wolf has helmed the indie-rap group WHY? for the better part of a decade, espousing similarly relatable neuroses with his tongue-twisting and often hilarious delivery. From Whole Foods to hybrid cars to minor indie stardom, Wolf (standing at the far right) has a way of pulling the ephemera from everyday life and putting it under a microscope in all its unflattering glory. And with its new EP, Sod In The Seed (out August 14), WHY?'s self-deprecating, often bleak critiques of our modern age are as sharply drawn as ever. We caught up with Yoni to talk about the new record, his move from the Bay Area to Cincinnati, and living with his parents (haven't we all been there?).
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You rap a lot more on the new EP. What made you want to return to rapping. Does it change the way you write a song?
"It just depends on what I'm writing. Certain types of writing is more conducive to rapping. If it's hyper-rhythmic with tons of internal rhymes, it's hard to add melody to that well. If it's stuff that's a little bit less verbose, usually it could use more of a melody, or I might hear the melody when I'm writing it. With the rap stuff, I might hear it super percussively when I'm writing it — usually I do. So, yeah, it just depends on the words, generally."
Has moving from the Bay Area to Cincinnati changed your songwriting?
"Well, yeah. I mean, I lived with my parents from the fall of 2010 until the fall of 2011, and that was the time I was kind of writing. I had been writing the songs for a few years before that, but that was the time I was really putting things together. I didn't really have friends in Cincinnati, and my parents live out in the suburbs anyway. I didn't really see anyone except my parents for the better part of a year. Especially during that winter, I just focused 100% on finishing those songs up and really getting them right. I don't think I would have had that focus in the Bay with all my friends."
Do you usually write the lyrics or music first?
"Usually, I write the words first and then create music around the words. That's usually what I do. But sometimes I do it the other way around. Normally the lyrics are what I start with."
Are most of your songs on the EP about your own experiences or more universal?
"It depends. Some songs are more sort of personal stuff. "Sod In The Seed" happens to be more about my generation, my set, my age group, my income bracket, etcetera, etcetera. You know, it's more of a song for us as opposed as for me. I think that humans are social beings, and I'm one person among many that are somewhat similar to me I think, within my world and time. I think that if people can't relate to what I'm writing, then something is probably wrong with me, if I'm being honest and true."
What's it like when a fan tells you that they're really identifying with a particular lyric or song?
"It was definitely surprising at first when someone would come up to me and be like, 'I listened to this song, and I relate to it.' But we all go through similar things, and think about similar things. And it feels good when I connect."
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Photo: Courtesy of Friends of Friends Network
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