It is not an overstatement to say that this 26-year-old British singer is about to take the music world by storm. Nilüfer Yanya has progressively evolved from her debut album Miss Universe characterised by jazz-inflected guitar licks and limber drum beats to Painless which empowers herself by admitting vulnerabilities while highlighting lyrical and sonic delivery. It is our honour to talk to her today about her inspirations, the journey of finding an authentic voice, and what her visionary career already has in mind.
Imagine yourself hitting the stage at an open mic night like the old days, introduce Nilüfer Yanya to the people who are about to discover your music.
Hey everyone my name is Nilüfer Yanya, I’m going to play you a few new songs that I have been writing. I hope you like them. They are all on my new  album which is coming out next month, it’s called Painless.
You were born into a family that appreciates music and has an impressive music collection. Do you think your affection is a generational heritage or a natural intuition?
I think it is a bit of both, like you mentioned my family is very passionate about music and art so I guess it makes total sense I wanted to pursue similar things in life. However, when it comes to writing music I think it is natural intuition. It is something I would have always regretted not doing if I did not. It is also where I find I can validate myself and be myself.
We can see you walk along a path near the Sea of Marmara in the music video of Paradise. The video, characterised by the gritty visual quality and a rustic flare, creates a radiant tranquillity. Tell us about your creative process regarding the complementarity sides of the visual and the sound in this music video.
I have worked with my sister Molly Daniel on all the videos to date. We always feel  inspired by the location and its possibilities more than anything else. I think we work best when we are free to basically roam about with the cameras and costumes and characters we have created exploring new places. For Paradise we decided to revisit the Princess Islands off the Bosphorus in Istanbul. I had been once as a very young child so my memories of it were very blurry.
Pixies and The Cure were some of your early inspirations, where in your song can we spot their presence or influence?
I like to think you can see that in the guitar lines and kind of weird lyrics. Also maybe in my singing, it is not very technical or typically expected?
I believe that writing songs is a two-way communication in which songs can tell you more about the world around you. Have you ever attempted to guess how your fans would interpret your lyrics differently from the way you do?
I like to keep things vague and open to interpretation. For me it is about finding the balance between saying what I want to say but not giving away all the details. I would actually hate for people to see what each lyric actually means to me. That would be too much. Then again a lot of the time I write something that is not real or even true or has no meaning at all , for it only later to come true!
Let’s talk about your single Stabilise. Is there a specific reason why you chose it as the first single off your upcoming album Painless? Do you think the melancholic sentiments in this song best represent the core message of the album?
I think it sums up the darker side of the album without being too sad because it has this manic energy to it. The rest of the songs sound quite different, so in a way it does not represent the entire album but yes I think it does a good job at bringing the message across.
You also flexed your ability to play the Turkish Saz, one of the most iconic Middle Eastern string instruments, in the track L/R from your new album. How long did it take you to master the instrument and how does its sound quality correspond to the vibe of the song?
I’m definitely a million miles off mastering the Saz. The line I was playing was very simple and it took quite a few takes and layering to make it sound like I can actually play it (laughs). However I really enjoyed bringing it to the song and making it work. I love how it has a thinner but richer quality than guitar but also softer than a synth line. I think it jumps out in the song but not in a bad way.
Painless is said to be a record about laying oneself bare by admitting vulnerability. However, revisiting and relieving those dark times can be overwhelmingly disturbing, especially when heartbreaks are put on the table for public scrutiny. I am particularly interested in how the writing process makes you a more confident human being, can you tell us more about it?
I’m not always the most vocal person when it comes to my personal life. I find when I write things down it always helps me process them. I think also finding my voice metaphorically speaking has gone hand in hand with finding my actual singing voice. I have found a new place over the years where I can be as confident and as self assured as the person I feel that I am on the inside. I think I used to struggle with that when I was younger because even If I felt confident it would not really come across or translate very well and it felt like people would kind of treat me differently because of it. As a result, I also found I was attracting domineering people into my life. Over the years as I have found my voice in music things have definitely shifted for me in that respect. I find it much easier to be confident and my music kind of guides me through it.
I personally believe that your vocals are more accentuated against the instrumental in Painless than in Miss Universe. What is the thought process behind this? Is this your way of saying, I’m not as scared to admit my feelings?
I think there are a couple of reasons. The main reason being I was focussing a lot more on the lyrics and vocals as I shared a lot more of the writing. I was freed up to really zoom in on the vocals and lyrics. It was definitely kind of liberating as a process.
Midnight Sun is a trip-hop influenced track. I am amazed by the way it starts off gentle but gradually builds up to an explosion in the second half. Do you agree if I say that it sounds like self-salvation by making an attempt to pull yourself out of the predicament that you experience in Stabilise?
Yeah, I like that. It is a lot more hopeful than Stabilise even though it is essentially about the same thing: being stuck, power struggles and moving in circles. For me the chorus is about following your instinct and how they can lead us out of dark times.
You previously ascribed your distaste for ‘excessive’ cooperation in the creative process to its detrimental effect on the individuality of the album. Now, what is the thing you and your producer Archer have that ensures that your project is still intrinsically true to yourself?
I think the key thing was we did not force or rush ourselves into writing it , it just kind of happened. We collaborated a lot on the last album and I found myself drawn back to working with  him again because of the kind of therapeutic way we go about it. When all the songs started coming together last year it was immediately clear to me that they were the album. It was a really nice moment because I had not planned it that way, I mean I had definitely thought about asking him to produce my next album but I did not really have any material to work with at the time. I did not think we would write so well together. I think it helps we both really listen to each other and give each other the time and space to work.
What do you like most about touring the world with your music?
Travelling is so surreal and wonderful.
From hitting small stages in London to being longlisted for BBC Sound of 2018, tell us about the ambitions that are yet to be accomplished for Nilüfer Yanya.
I need to write more, I’d love to write a book one day or make a film. Also making more physical things.