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Guitarist, Yvette Young, Leads Math Rock Band, Covet, With Piano-Like Finger-Tapping

In Music
Big In Japan: Covet frontwoman Yvette Young gathered a large following online before touring Japan, where she was greeted like a rock star.

Big In Japan: Covet frontwoman Yvette Young gathered a large following online before touring Japan, where she was greeted like a rock star.

Despite some dazzling math rock chops, and a growing fanbase, local singer, songwriter and guitarist Yvette Young is still green when it comes to playing in a band. Her new math-prog rock group, Covet, makes their South Bay debut this Saturday at Homestead Bowl, playing their second show ever.

This doesn’t mean Young is new to music. She’s simply been going it alone for the majority of the past five years. She started posting videos of herself playing music to YouTube in 2009, when she first moved to L.A. Young quickly found an audience, but still only occasionally played shows, and never in L.A.—only in San Jose when she was visiting home on vacation.

“I got a lot more fans through Facebook and YouTube than shows,” Young says. “It just comes with the territory of the Internet generation, where everything’s online. It’s funny because I don’t have a lot of local fans. I have fans across the sea, in other countries—that’s just how I got most of my fans.”

Her solo material is a natural fit for YouTube. Unlike Covet’s hard-edged, driving prog-rock elements, Young’s solo material is intimate acoustic music—a blend of gorgeous singer-songwriter folk tunes and technical math-rock licks. The songs are catchy and emotional, but part of the appeal lies in watching her fingers work their magic, as they fly between the bridge of the guitar and its fretboard, picking and tapping what sounds like multiple guitar parts at once.

Earlier this year, Young released her solo Acoustics EP, but Covet is where she’s placing her focus these days. Upon moving back to San Jose, the songwriter immediately set to assembling her band. It took a while, but she found Ben Wallace-Ailsworth (drums) and David Adamiak (bass) to play with, and together they started developing several songs she had written on her electric guitar specifically for an ensemble. As a trio, they are able to wow audiences with their combined technical prowess, but showing off isn’t what Young is going for. With Covet, as with her solo material, her goal is simple: to make music that sounds good.

“When I write, I want it to sound pretty,” she says. “That’s all I really care about. I listen to a lot of post-rock, and a lot of it is very beautiful. There are moments of planned dissonance, but it’s to create tension to resolve it again with something beautiful.”

Young has developed a unique finger-tapping technique, which she attributes to having learned to play piano before ever picking up the guitar. “I started piano when I was four,” she says. “It helps with separating your right and left hand, so you can do different things. As a soloist, I’ve had to find ways to play so that when people close their eyes, they hear something really full.”

Her success on YouTube led to a solo tour in Japan earlier this year, where she played in front of as many as 100 people at one show. Before going there, a friend showed her some fan-made cover videos of her songs, but it was still a shock when she went there and met people who’d waited years to see her live.

“I was super surprised I even had fans there. It’s so crazy,” Young says. “A ton of people came up to me after the show for pictures and autographs. I’ve never signed autographs before, so it was very awkward, but also flattering. It felt like a dream.”

She hasn’t made many solo videos for YouTube lately. When she uploads something it’s generally to show off new gear or give people a sneak peek of something Covet is working on.

“The band is my priority right now because I’ve been sitting on these songs for so long and I want to get them fleshed out and recorded,” she says. “I love playing as a band way more than solo because the attention is dispersed and not only on me. I’m bad with crowds. I definitely still value my solo work. I am working on a few more acoustic songs. I always feel like there is so much to do, so many ideas, but so little time.”

Covet play Homestead Bowl in Cupertino on Saturday, Dec. 20 at 8pm. More info.

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