I don't know about you, but when I hear the word "folktronica," for some reason I immediately think of Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song." Sure, Sandler never actually sings that word in the song, but he easily could have. Check out the last few verses: "Tell your friend Veronica / It's time you celebrate Hanukkah / I hope I get a harmonica, on this lovely, lovely Hanukkah / So drink your gin-and-tonic-ah, and smoke your mara-juanic-ah / If you really, really wanna-kah, have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah."
You see, had Sandler known about British musician James Yuill, he could have easily slipped in a reference that would sound something like this: "Tell your friend Veronica / James Yuill plays folktronica." The only problem, of course, is I don't think James Yuill has anything to do with Hanukkah.
Whatever the case, Yuill's music has been described as folktronica. Yes, you guessed it, that's a hybrid incorporating bits of folk music with electronica. You're probably wondering if Yuill feels weird about being associated with the genre. "Not really, no, because I used to listen to a lot of people like Efterklang and Tunng and all these real folktronica people," he recently told LAist. "I don't think that my folk is that good enough or that my electronica is that good enough. It's more like dumbed down versions of those things. It's more like house and singer/songwriter stuff. I don't mind being associated with the genre at all though. It's one I really like. If I could emulate half of what the Postal Service has done, I would be really happy."
While Yuill has yet to reach such great heights as the Postal Service, thus far his musical output has been fairly impressive. Check out the track "No Pins Allowed," featured on his recently released EP and his forthcoming album, Turning Down Water For Air, due May 26. You can consider it a very early Hanukkah present if you'd like, even if you don't celebrate that holiday. (Right click and hit "save as" to download).
You may be wondering just what the little ditty is about and lucky for you, here's an explaination straight from songwriter's mouth. "The song is about people having thin skin and hiding sharp implements from them in case you pop them," Yulli told LAist. "I mean it's a really weird idea for a song. To be honest, my songs don't really mean a huge amount. They're just random ideas."
Yuill also has good taste in covers. Aside from multiple remixes of "No Pins Allowed," the EP sporting that title also includes Yuill's take of Radiohead's "Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box." You can stream that below.
If you like what you heard, seek out Yuill's EPs and first album, 2005's The Vanilla Disc, available now and Turning Down Water For Air upon its release. You can also catch him live later this month opening a series of West Coast dates for French electro-specialist M83. In the meantime, let me know what you think of Yuill and folktronica.