Y.O.G.A curates a playlist of tracks that inspired his new mental health focussed E.P
You probably have a fair idea of who Peking Duk are. They’re one of Australia’s biggest electronic acts having released hit after hit, and headlined festival after festival. Behind the headlines, the glamour, the constant pressure to uplift with every single sits real humans, one of them being Reuben Styles. He’s already won 2 ARIA Awards, accumulated over 350 million streams globally and got 3 platinum selling singles, but his work under newly launched project, Y.O.G.A is his most important yet. Styles is on a personal mission to create conversations around mental health. The reason being, 1 in 5 Australians will experience mental illness. Thats 5 million people and of them, 60% won’t seek help.
Y.O.G.A is an acronym for “Your Only Great Always”, and hopes to support and uplift his audience to reflect on both the positive and negative experiences in life through music. . He today released the projects sophomore EP, ‘YOU’RE ONLY GREAT ALWAYS II’, an extremely intimate project that sees him walk the walk, detailing some of his most vulnerable moments through music.
“This is quite a personal body of work for me. There are songs about self-reflection, songs about addiction, songs about love and songs about death,” says Reuben. “Perhaps mostly because Duk tunes are party songs, Y.O.G.A. has paved a way for me to communicate emotion on any level; whether it’s vibrant and colourful happy emotions, or it’s the darker, even harrowing sadder emotions.”
Reuben continues: “One of my best mates sadly passed away just before I wrote YOU’RE ONLY GREAT ALWAYS II. I felt this need to create.I never knew how to address death about passed loved ones through my music… I had written songs about late friends, but never wanted people to hear it.For the first time ever,I am comfortable releasing a song as personal as ‘Black Night Lullaby’,in memory of my friend.”
Sonically the EP is equally as stunning as its powerful sentiment. Acoustic guitars act as the projects beating heart, providing a layer of comfort, familiarity and hope to each of the tracks. Laid back drum lines combine perfectly with moody melodic sections and groove laden bass lines. The projects biggest takeaway however, are Styles’ gorgeous, effected vocals. Intimate lyrics pair gorgeously with their muffled, grungey texture, giving them another layer of evocative, personal meaning.
Alongside the release of the project, Reuben has today launched TEAM Y.O.G.A.for Mullets For Mental Health. Run by the Black Dog Institute, Reuben has created his own team for Mullets For Mental Health to raise much needed funds for mental health research. All donations to the charity and to Mullets for Mental health campaign will go towards funding groundbreaking research into early detection, prevention and treatment of common mental health disorders.
To get to know the project better, we set the task for Y.O.G.A to curate a playlist of songs that have inspired him to have conversations about mental health. Tracks that helped him battle through hard times. Tracks that inspired him to build this side project from the ground up. You can check out the playlist below, as well as the meaning behind each individual track.
Weval – The Weight
I first discovered Weval when they dropped their debut self titled album in 2016. I straight away was a fan, and thrashed their first album. I did not expect however to become a SUPER fan. Their second album, The Weight, is now one of my favourite albums of all time. Anything you become obsessed with finds ways (and without meaning to!) to enter your own songwriting and production.
The Strokes – Evening Sun
The Strokes are undeniably the band that shaped me most both as a person and as a musician. Their first 3 albums, when I was 17, changed my life entirely. I totally slept on their first 2 albums so in a way I was lucky to get 3 albums all at once to cherish like a new anthology or I guess in a way, as I’m not religious, it was my bible. I sadly lost one of my best friends when I was 17. These three albums, we both deeply loved, and we would drive around in my hotted up ’92 Honda Integra screaming along to the lyrics. In this particular song there’s a lyric which I can not help but stay with and think about forever. “You’re the pretty smartest captain of the team…. I love you more than being seventeen”
Rhiannon Giddens – Mountain Hymn
Not intentionally doing 2 sad songs in a row here, I guess when I think of inspiration it is just something I can’t help. I was lucky enough to discover this song playing Red Dead Redemption II on PS4. The game itself, beautiful, incredible yada yada THE SOUNDTRACK THO, fuck me. It is something. After finishing the game this soundtrack stayed with me and I have no doubt it forever will. Perfect for a stroll on Porcinis or simply having a moment of solace after a stressful day. This soundtrack can do no wrong. Mountain Hymn in particular was a song I couldn’t help but attach myself to in a huge way after one of my best mates passed away 2 years ago. It still brings tears but also brings fuckin great memories of my mate so I love chucking it on. You’ll hear lots of inspiration from this on the song Black Night Lullaby, which I wrote about my mate.
Kino – Следи за собой
Viktor Tsoi is a fucking genius and if you don’t know Kino / Кино it’s about time you wet your whistle. Viktor died at the age of 28 and he is as legendary if not more legendary than the members of the 27 club. All I can say is, go down the Kino rabbit hole. You can hear plenty of inspo from these guys on Ripple.
Shankar-Ehsaan-LoyDo – Kill Dil
In 2014 I was lucky enough to go on a songwriting trip to India. We got to work in YRF studios Mumbai, where they actually create blockbuster Bollywood films and music. It was a surreal experience, we got to work with Indian songwriters and film scorers!! Anyways whilst we were there YRF had a live acting showcase of the upcoming film KILL DIL. And yes it sounds like Kill Bill but I’m sure that was unintentional. 6 months after the writing trip all the songwriters got together for a Bollywood movie night in Western Sydney to watch the finished feature film, KILL DIL!!! I was in the states with Duk so I sadly missed the action, Adam and I decided to watch it at the same time as the movie goers to experience it with them as best we could! ANYWAY this damn theme song weirdly stayed with me, and please don’t ask why, but it’s the entire inspiration behind Wolfer & The Dove.
Ennio Morricone – A Fistful of Dollars
Say no more. Ennio Morricone has inspired so much of Y.O.G.A. I have no idea where to start. I would say you can hear him in most Y.O.G.A. songs in one way or another. He is the godfather of musical geniuses. Who the fuck thinks of these chords and melodies. It’s legit clowntown how good he is. RIP to what I consider the most beautifully artistic songwriter of our time.
M83 – Un nouveau Soleil
M83 is the natural extension of who I think of after Ennio Morricone. M83 has a way with chords like Ennio. It’s surreal sometimes hearing what was once half crazy (in my mind full genius) Italian spaghetti western guitars, translated to anthemic massive French synth music. What a world we live in. M83 has done right every time. This song is from the soundtrack he wrote for the film Les Rencontres d’après Minuit. Great film, incredible tones of sadness with dark and clever humour, very french… BUT fuck me the soundtrack was insane. I started shazamming the songs and realised all of them were M83 haha then realised he scored it. This song along with all M83 songs have inspired Y.O.G.A. collectively as a whole.
James Blake – Life Round Here
This song can’t stay away. I overplayed it to death in 2013, and again in 2015 and yet somehow it continues to bi annually re enter my life for another thrashing. How I can even stand it still makes no sense. It must be one of my favourite songs. Maybe I hate it though. It’s like durries, I don’t know if I like, love or hate them, I just simply can’t stop. Not sure which track this has inspired but it’s surely sprinkled a bit of it’s dust into every aspect of my life by now.
Sébastian Tellier – Look
This song has been a favourite of mine for years also. Luckily for me it’s just been a slow burner, I always enjoy it but never became too obsessed like with Life Round Here. This song has inspired tonnes of Y.O.G.A. I guess the general aesthetic and colour of it. The mood of it. It’s where I like to be. I can spend days on a song in the studio if it has this mood. I also love the Daft Punk Julian Casablancas song Instant Crush, it’s this exact song but on pingers.
Gorillaz – On Melancholy Hill
This song and every Gorillaz song would be the most influential in the Y.O.G.A. project. Unintentionally, everything I do in one way or another rips off Gorillaz, people often tell me Ripple sounds like Melancholy Hill. I don’t know…. I just love Damon so much. This album Plastic Beach was my fav album in the world when it came out and I still love playing it all the time. Damon Albarn is probably my favourite musician.
Marcy Playground – Sex & Candy
This song along with all the grunge rock from the 90s is the STEEZ I can’t help but write like. This song from listening right now sounds exactly like See It In Your Eyes hahaah it’s uncanny. I love Marcy Playground and you can hear their influence on songs like See It In Your Eyes, The Boat I Left, PITS and I’m sure plenty more.
Cake – I Will Survive
Well this song choice I guess is a double. Cake itself the band is sprinkled all throughout the Y.O.G.A. project. These guys were my fav band when I was 9 or 10 years old and I had a big resurgence a couple years ago and now their guitars and epic bass lines are big references. Their bar was set so high it’s insane. Anyone who forgot about them please I implore you to get back on the train. The other part of this song is I Will Survive, which reminds me of Priscilla, the main inspiration for the Wolfer & The Dove clip. Growing up, Priscilla was the household favourite movie.
MGMT – Hand It Over
Boy oh boy did MGMT come back large with the Little Dark Age album. The whole record is next level. I never thought I would say a NEW MGMT album would become one of my big influences for a new project of music. But this album has stayed my most listened to for the last 3 or 4 years. I love coming back to it time and time again. It’s such an eloquent body of work, the tracks work together so well yet they’re all so different. Not sure which songs exactly are inspired by the album
BRMC – Beat The Devil’s Tattoo
These boot scootin rock dogs from San Francisco have always been a favourite of mine. Ever since the song Whatever Happened To My Rock N Roll back when I was in high school. These guys hit that sweet spot in the country world that I don’t think is capable from anyone else, maybe Sturgill Simpson, but even Sturgill puts out the odd funny one. BRMC are in my mind untouchable. I would say the western soundscape and aesthetic in Y.O.G.A. and the vocals and I guess almost everything are inspired by BRMC.
Alessandro Alessandroni – El Gringo
It would be weird if I didn’t put this on there. Guitar strums and whistles. I mean… That’s what it’s all about. Right?
Words by PARRY TRITSINIOTIS