We’re big supporters of people who use their art and stories to lift up others and inspire. Renee Yohe is the perfect example of a lady in the music scene doing just that. She may be familiar to you from all the support work that non-profit organization, To Write Love on Her Arms has done in her honor. Now Renee is channeling all of her creative energy into her music career with her band, Bearcat. Renee took some time to chat with us and tell us about where she’s been and where she’s going…. enjoy! Plus, check out the YM&C exclusive Foster the People cover (above).
YM&C: You’ve mentioned how important it is for you to tell stories through your art. Tell us about how music came to be your creative outlet?
RENEE: I guess in a way it always has been, but it was my little secret, sacred thing simply for myself. As far as deciding to dive into music and share that with the world, it was a long process between friends who had heard me sing and kept pushing me to do it; and eventually my own desire in a very literal and symbolic way to believe in and use my voice.
YM&C: PICK and WHY: Pen to Paper vs. Fingers to Keypad.
RENEE: That is an extremely difficult choice, you just created an all out war in my head. It would depend on the situation! My gut says pen to paper, there’s something so very therapeutic in actually writing out your thoughts and allowing them to physically take on the look as you feel it. The fact that it takes longer to write everything out kind of forces you to sit with each thought a bit longer before moving on to the next, perhaps making the process more intentional and possibly more effective as far as therapeutic value…not to mention I’m very sensory oriented and the smell of paper, the feeling of a good pencil against the fibers of the page, and actually being able to hold it in your hands when you’re done is so validating. I’m going to cheat though, and embrace my duality because an equally strong argument for fingers to keyboard is raging inside of me. If I need to get a thought out, especially a lengthy or in depth one…and my head is going too fast to follow it, I would choose fingers to keyboard any day simply because it is so much faster and you end up saving a lot of tangents that may have been lost if you’d had to write them out, not to mention it saves the writers cramp and callouses and red indentations on your fingers. BAM!
YM&C : One song that changed your life and why.
RENEE: Ours “The Worst Things Beautiful,” because it literally saved my life and was a catalyst for me owning a very important truth, that there is something incredibly profound in the simple act of waiting. It made the old cliche’ “This too shall pass,” much more real, not to mention it helped me see how I’d subconsciously started to depend on other people for my sanity instead of whatever god or higher power I’d found. It was pretty startling and depressing to realize no one was going to be there get me through, that I felt utterly and seemed entirely alone in my despair… and that I suddenly seemed to need someone else to be a voice of reason to get me through… while at the same time, when I had gotten through the night, woke up the next morning unscathed, I realized that I could do this thing myself, that I wasn’t and couldn’t be dependent on other people to save or keep me, and that I needed to really figure out what it was that could “tie me to the ship” so to speak.
YM&C: Where do you write your songs? Is the process a steady climb, a jigsaw puzzle or a lightening bolt of inspiration?
RENEE: I write them in my head mostly, on long drives, on the porch in the early morning hours when I have yet to sleep and this line or concept is stuck in my head…. I scrawl them out on notebook paper, or thanks to technology, I type the words as fast as they come when I hear something. It’s mostly a steady climb or overflow, I call it most often, “word vomit”. The jigsaw comes into play at times when I need to fill a certain space (I know nothing conventional about songwriting) and am waiting for the words to come, I never want anything contrived or that feels like filler. I’ll sit with the music for the verse or line that I need to come up with on loop until I have something that comes naturally and fits just right.
YM&C: Quote that keeps you inspired.
RENEE: “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
YM&C: Favorite Poem.
RENEE: One of my favorite poems growing up was “Tulips” by Sylvia Plath.
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