by Holli Stephens
I discovered WHY? about six months back through a coworker who was surprised when I said that I’ve never heard of them before. After listening through Alopecia, released in 2008, I became so intrigued by their sound and instantly became a fan. WHY? is Yoni Wolf’s creation. After using it as a rapping stage name until 2004, he started touring with a band and using his own name for his solo acts. WHY?’s styles vary from rap to rock to more gentle indie.
Wolf confidently says, “I try to keep it fresh for myself and never fall into the trap of making the same album twice or anything like that.”
Wolf’s rapping career is a huge aspect of what makes WHY?’s music so “fresh”. He started out small, rapping by himself in his bedroom and then began filtering in close friends as an audience as he felt more comfortable with it. Eventually, a fellow rapper by the name of Doseone inspired him to start recording. Before WHY? Wolf was involved in various hip hop groups that include Clouddead and Reaching Quiet.
For Wolf, it’s a process thing. “Each different poem seems to give more toward a certain direction so sometimes it feels like it wants to be screamed or sang very gently or sometimes chanted or rapped. I follow in the direction of where the words naturally seem to want to go and I think it’s my job to discern that.”
It’s all about adapting the music to the writing so Wolf is always thinking of new ways of working. “Everyone teaches me new thing and every time you work with a new person you learn something and you integrate that into your own work.”
Soundcloud and iTunes house some of Wolf’s other work. He has his own audio talk series called “The Wandering Wolf”. After clarifying the difference between what it means to be a podcast and a blog, Yoni explains to me that “…it’s a series of conversations with different artists, sometimes not artists just other interesting people and it comes out weekly. I meet people in person and I sit down with them and talk with them for an hour or two. It’s real talk about music or spirituality or sex, love, anything.” Wolf has talked with everyone from Ella Yelich (Lorde) to Regan Farquhar (Busdriver).
We end our interview talking about future performances including WHY?’s upcoming show at Union Transfer on September 22nd. According to their Facebook page, this will be the last time WHY? will be touring for “at least a year.”
As for new projects Wolf is “…working on all kinds of shit but [doesn’t] know what to say about it now. It’s all very much in process.”