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Jharis Yokley & BIGYUKI delight NYC with a truly unique debut set


A warm Friday night at a relaxed venue in the East Village was the perfect backdrop for Jharis Yokley’s album release show. Performing with New York-based Japanese synth legend BIGYUKI who heavily assisted with the album, Yokley proudly shared Sometimes, Late at Night. The venue is self-described as “a little clubhouse where friends get together and play music with each other” and this is precisely how the evening went down.

Yokley, known for his highly sought-after talent as a percussionist, took a seat at a bright red drum kit while BIGYUKI stood behind an impressive synthesizer/keyboard setup. The entire evening was a big jam session. Riffs that the two were making up on the spot wove into songs from the album featuring Yokley’s sparse, deep vocals. After the first song, Yokley introduced the pair and shared the genesis of his debut project; you guessed it, heartbreak. It was very special to hear first-hand how this “breakup album” manifested sonically for Yokley. The lyrics are not meant to be deeply poetic or complex; they more so act as a guide through the jazzy and experimental sounds of the album. The uniqueness of Sometimes, Late at Night, especially hearing it live, lies in Jharis Yokley’s ability to be simultaneously novice and expert.

Singing into a microphone while drumming was a novel experience for almost everyone in the crowd as much as it was for Yokley. But his ability to drum and BUGYUKI’s ability to play the synth proved to be an expert right away. One didn’t know where to turn their head as the duo would play song after song. Eventually, they would wind down and share that they had never played that before. The audience truly felt like they were standing in someone’s garage or basement while the two “vibed.” Although the pair don’t love to use that word to describe their rehearsals, it is fitting to describe how the album was crafted and is shared with audiences. The evening felt like a jazz performance, and it essentially was.

A favorite track of mine was when Yokley started singing the outro of Tyler, The Creator’s “GONE, GONE / THANK YOU” and put his own flare on the instrumentals with BIGYUKI. Another sample used during the performance was “Things I Do” by Andy Shauf which is a tender song featuring simple, soft, slightly jazzy instrumentals. Yokley was fusing his skills with theirs; utilizing the vulnerable lyrics of other artists to further his message, his feelings, and their combined ability to hear a beat and weave it into a set.

The evening was incredibly special, and I can only imagine that no upcoming performance will be the same as the next. If you’re looking for a truly unique concert, Jharis Yokley and BIGYUKI are a shoo-in.

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