What did you do when your first relationship ended? Maybe you cried; maybe you made your ex a mixtape, or penned a heartfelt letter. In the case of George van den Broek, his ended up being the basis for ‘Harmless Melodies’, a bewitching debut that blends shades of King Krule and Only Real with songwriting chops that are rare for anyone, let alone an 18-year-old.
“Yellow Days for me is like a yellow mist over everything you see, and it sort of multiplies the emotion,” George explains of his name. “It’s the Yellow Days of my times, because I write about moments that have happened to me that mean a lot.”
From the first few bars of its John Cleese-sampling intro, ‘Harmless Melodies’ feels like stepping into George’s head in the days and months after his relationship ran its course. His incredible voice – even more gruff on the phone than it is on record – is a powerful tool that imbues a story of heartache and reclamation with even more heft and gravitas. The Archy Marshall comparisons aren’t off the mark, but where Archy’s music as King Krule has a post-punk sensibility in both the instrumentation and the vocals, George’s tunes are even more cerebral and atmospheric, a soundtrack for late-night thoughts.
“Yellow Days for me is like a yellow mist over everything you see, and it sort of multiplies the emotion”
— George van den Broek
“People say that poetry is written in the reflection, and I think [these songs] came a fair bit afterwards,” he says. “Back then I wasn’t writing nearly as much as I am now. I still touch on old emotions, if they’re that strong you can summon them and make a song.”
That sense of perspective informs breakout single ‘Your Hand Holding Mine’, which encapsulates the fog he found himself in once on his own. The track captures the ennui of unrequited love. “It’s a first love, we spent a long time together, and afterwards it was pretty cold and sobering,” he remembers. “So that song is sort of like ‘Fuck, what am I gonna do now?’ He says. “[But] it’s got hopefulness, it’s not completely depressive. ‘I always thought it’d be your hand holding mine but I’m doing what I can, I’m surviving.’”
“My music is always just like a state of consciousness, every song and every album is just how I’ve been, how I’ve been feeling,” he says. “Some will be happy, some will be sad, some will be a mixture.”
Taken from the March 2017 issue of DIY. Subscribe below.
Yellow Days plays Live At Leeds (29th April) and The Great Escape (18th-20th May) where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.