Q&A: WHY?‘s Yoni Wolf Talks New Album, “Mumps, etc.,” and Breakfast Foods

By Paula Mejia; thumbnail by Aaron Conway on October 15, 2012


Q&A: WHY?‘s Yoni Wolf Talks New Album, “Mumps, etc.,” and Breakfast Foods

What does WHY? sound like? Unsurprisingly, the question mark at the end of Yoni Wolf’s on-stage moniker WHY? aptly fits with his sound—captivating, a bit strange, and ultimately impossible to categorize. Which is a great thing. Delving into folk-inspired rhythms, sharp lyrics and homegrown rap, WHY? never ceases to amaze us with his near obsessive approach to songwriting that both bends the mind and leaves you anxious for more.

After taking an extended break after his last release Eskimo Snow in 2009, WHY? returned in 2012 with an EP, entitled Sod in the Seed, and full-length Mumps, Etc. was released on October 9th via Anticon. An accompanying tour for the new album is well underway.

We chatted with Yoni about the new album, collaborating with Serengeti, and his breakfast choices.

I noticed that your latest EP Sod in the Seed sees the return of rapping and you delving more into your hip hop roots—something I noticed was a bit sparse on Eskimo Snow. What prompted the shift?
Yoni Wolf: I started writing more in complex rhyme structures. Not for any particular reason, it was just a natural evolution I suppose.

How has your music evolved since you first began to record?

There have been many different iterations and styles along the way. I can't really pinpoint one way in which things have evolved. I feel like we do something new for every album. And every song even.

Is it difficult for you to listen to your earliest recordings?
Yes. I don't dare. 

Do you see your works as a progression or is recording more of an unconscious process that just comes together organically?
Definitely the latter. We go about each project in its own way with a fresh outlook and a fresh set of goals and ideas. 

What direction do you see Mumps, Etc. taking?
It is in the same general vein as the EP. In fact, "Sod in the Seed" (the song) is on the album. 

What have you been listening to lately?
Nothing too intensely. It has been a period for creation more than soaking things in. Soon, hopefully. 

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing music today?
Same as always; to make something true and from the heart and not pretentious or dumbed down. 

You've collaborated with Serengeti and are gearing up for a fall tour. Any more collaborations in the works?
Not at the moment but have had some loose discussions with some folks. 

What's a record you wish you would have made?
I don't wish I had made anyone else's record. I'm elated to come across someone else's work that touches me. It makes me feel connected but I don't wish I was them. 

Finally, what did you have for breakfast today?
Fruit and yogurt. 

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