Now and then, amidst the manufactured pop and the all-too-thought-out songs and music videos in the entertainment industry, you come across a genuinely talented and eager person. When this happens, it's best to write the name down and track the person as much as you can so that you can take pride in investing in something that is real and groundbreaking. Ready for the next name to write down? Renee Yohe.
Some may know her as the reason behind the famous non-profit To Write Love on Her Arms, and some may even know her as the character Kat Dennings is playing in the upcoming bio-pic "Renee," but Yohe is adding another endeavor to her already fulfilled life: songwriter, singer, and mastermind behind BEARCAT.
Already being compared to mega-artists Fiona Apple and Zooey Deschanel, Renee blends her painful past and hopeful future into strikingly calm melodies plucked for a perfect day in the sun or a quiet night in. All this praise and she's only released a handful of songs, as her Kickstarter is helping fun her first EP.
The talented beauty took time out to speak with us about everything happening in her whirlwind life so far, and how important it is to stay real.
Joonbug: What inspired the idea behind the name BEARCAT and the direction you wanted to take your music with it?
Renee Yohe: Well, I love flapper lingo, the whole mentality of fucking with people, using nonsensical terms to denote things they thought were great and just seeing what they could get away with. Bearcat refers to a feisty or hot blooded woman, which couldn't fit my personality more. I've got a lot of influences musically across the board, from Doris Day and Simon & Garfunkel, Johnny Cash, The Temptations and The Supremes, to Fiona Apple, Patrick Watson, the Dodos, Jolie Holland, David Bazan and Regina Spektor. Vocally, I fall naturally into more soulful and jazzy deliveries, I love the innocence and purity of the "oldies" and can get enough of musically quirky, eccentric, cinematic and simultaneously simple compliments. I'm sure this will be an ever evolving thing, but I love where I'm at now.
Is there a certain message you want listeners to take from the music?
One would be selfishly, that I am more than just a six year old story, that I have talents, passion, a mind of my own and something I believe is significant to be said. I would hope they would hear me allowing myself to be and say what I most need, and that they would offer the same freedom to themselves. I think there's a lot that could be taken from my lyrics...or I could just be speaking jibberish! It's all perspective.
You’re getting a ton of recognition right now – particularly for your Kickstarter, and being compared to Fiona Apple and Zooey Deschanel – how does it feel? Were you nervous at first to debut your music?
I've been blown away from all the features, the ridiculously kind words and affirmations. Being compared to such amazing artists with incredible voices I've always loved is certainly a strange, humbling and really beautifully unexpected thing. I couldn't be more happy that people genuinely love my voice and the music I'm putting out. It's so exciting. I was a bit nervous, but honestly, not so much just because I didn't need or expect others to validate what I was creating because I'm just doing it for me. I've just been excited to do it.
What can fans expect to see from your live shows this spring, supporting for NeverShoutNever?
I don't know that I would want to tell them! We're starting small --obviously budget-wise, and opening on our first real tour. It won't be a mind-blowing theatrical debut, but I think they will be pleased by what we are bringing to the table. It truly feels like we've got something organic and pretty unique.
What are you mostly looking forward to with the upcoming tour?
A multitude of things, but primarily just the chance to get out there and play this music that is so dear to me, and I'm excited to see what response we get. I'm excited to grow closer and tighter as a band as well.
Your official website is more like a blog, how important do you feel it is to be honest and open with fans, even if the subjects can be deep or sensitive?
I have always valued transparency in everything. I just want to be authentic, I don't want to mask or sugar coat or mislead anyone. I just want to be. People want something real, I want to be real... so there you go. My music, my life, my writing; it's all an extension of myself, so it makes sense to leave it as it is for now. The content is deep and there's sensitive matters, but isn't that what we create music for? It's a cushion for the heaviness, and a safe place to allow us to go there, someone to go with you in that corner of your room. They say "real recognizes real," so there you go.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
There's so many people I would love to work with: Patrick Watson and Fiona Apple, David Bazan, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and honestly, my friend Travie Mccoy. I think it'd be a fun way to diversify and step into some other outlets.
Apart from this EP you’re writing, there’s also a movie coming out about you (titled "Renee"). How does it feel to have your story reaching such a wide range of people along with TWLOHA? Were you able to oversee how the film was portrayed?
It's incredible, to say the very least. Certainly one of those situations where language fails miserably to convey the feelings. There's this moment burned into my brain that I love to just sit with sometimes: Jamie had asked for my permission to write an article about my story, I said yes instantly, because I had fought to survive all those years (often solely) because I believed with every fiber of my being that my experience could help someone else, even if it was just one person it made EVERYTHING worth it. So, you can imagine the overwhelming affirmation in knowing so many have been helped in some way, and an even more personal affirmation in the value I place on being intentional. I was able to be on set for quite a few of the scenes that were shot, it was a pretty crazy experience. Other times, and for the most part, I sort of kept my distance just to protect my heart and sanity. I didn't really have any say as far as the actual thing, but it was cool to observe and make some incredible connections with the people working on the film.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through all of your experiences?
It's hard to condense all that I've learned, each lesson was significant in its timing, but right now the most poignant lesson I've learned and practice my best to apply every day is just to be gentle, loving, and accepting of myself unconditionally, offering myself grace and compassion. In doing this, I have found that I am always free no matter what my life looks like. That's been something I've yearned for the majority of my life: just permission to be, and to know true freedom. The realization that I am allowed, and that I am free, whenever I choose to allow that, has really changed my life.
Images courtesy of The Working Group management and TeenSpot.com