i-D's music class of 2017: nilufer yanya

Meet the writers, thinkers, players and performers who are creating, crafting and composing the future of music right here, right now. This one’s a total dream. Introducing Nilufer Yanya.

by Frankie Dunn
23 January 2017, 10:05am

Nilufer wears coat Moschino. Dress Ashley Williams.

21-year-old Nilufer Yanya quietly speaks volumes with her shimmering Jeff Buckley-esque sound. Born into a family of artists, she's got talent in abundance and has called on her older sister Molly to direct music videos for Small Crimes and Keep On Calling, which was a good call. Nilufer is half Turkish and although she sees it as a very separate side of her life, she has already had gigs in Istanbul, her relatives already finding her picture in Turkish newspapers. Surprising those who know her, and maybe even herself, with her career choice - she's not a natural performer - the West Londoner enjoys keeping the messages behind her music quite secretive. She's not going to spell it out for you, so dive in and make of it what you will.

Read: Meet the rest of i-D's Music Class of 2017. Expect big things from these shining stars.

Nilufer, 21, Chelsea

What're the best and worst things about where you're from?
It's a nice, safe place to grow up but it's also really dry. There's no nightlife, no music, but there are nice parks and museums.

Have you always wanted to make music?
Yes, but I didn't think I'd be the person to go on stage and be the singer. It just wasn't very me, but a teacher pointed out that either way, somebody would be singing my words, so it might as well be me doing it.

Are your family creative?
Both my parents are artists so we were always sitting down painting together as a family. My older sister and her boyfriend actually directed my music videos. It's so fun making them with her and now I know we can do something bigger, better and longer.

If your life was a short story, what would be the key points leading up to today?
In my head, my life is one of those books where nothing really happens; where the whole thing is just based on a couple of days or a holiday or something. Like a Sofia Coppola film or Catcher in the Rye. Nothing dramatic really.

What do you want to say with your music?
You know how when you look at a painting, sometimes you can see that it's a painting of a tree, but sometimes you can't tell what it is, it doesn't really say anything, but it's still equally as interesting. I think that's what I enjoy most about music; not having to worry about making things obvious or things being about one specific thing. I enjoy making sense of how I see things through music, and letting other people interpret things how they like.

What role do you see yourself playing in the UK music scene?
I like to think that my music comes from a different perspective. It's quite thoughtful. It's tricky because I've not put a lot of music out yet. It's hard to know so early on where I'll end up. I'm not a finished product, so I don't want to be seen like that.

I've heard people compare you to King Krule before. How do you feel about that?
That's cool. I remember when I first listened to his music actually, and I really felt a connection to it.

What are some of the issues facing you and your friends at the moment?
Obviously there's the issue of, are you going to stay living at home with your parents or are you going to work loads and loads and spend all your money on rent. Or move away somewhere else where rent is cheaper and maybe you get to work less and have more time to do other things. Or are you gonna continue in education and be broke forever. There's so much uncertainty. I don't think that the UK is perfect, but the things we all have access to should be basic for the rest of the world too. I guess you've just got to free your mind and not let things consume you too much,

Who're you tipping for 2017?
This guy called Puma Blue.

What're your plans for 2017?
I want to release more music and work on my live show. For a while it was just me on guitar but I've recently put a band together with my friends from school. I just want to be inspired. I really want to learn Turkish too because my dad's Turkish. 


Text Frankie Dunn
Photography Hanna Moon
Styling Max Clark
Hair Maarit Niemala at Bryant Artists using Moroccan Oil.
Make-up Athena Paginton at Bryant Artists using Kryolan.
Set design Mariska Lowri.
Photography assistance Alessandro Tranchini, Ilenia Arosio.
Styling assistance Bojana Kozarevic.
Hair assistance Benjamin David, Mikaela Knopps.
Make-up assistance Billie McKenzie.

Class of 2017
music interviews