Climbing to the success of their 2019 ‘Starve’ didn’t come without it’s trials and testimonies. Having to face the state of his gruesome health issues whilst pouring all his emotional energy into a new album heaved a weight of complications onto Blood Youth frontman Kaya Tarsus.
But prevailing through each hurdle as an undefeated champion, Kaya and the band delivered their most clean-cut, savage and unforgiving album in February this year that set a precedent for just how gnarly Blood Youth’s sound could go. This album became a redefining moment for their career, showing that they weren’t limited in their expansive play of genres but could also rip a gritty breakdown if they needed.
This success has left them with a highly respected acclaim and new avenues to explore with their music. Speaking about the process of ‘Starve’, the sacrifices made, the full circle moment of his success and what’s next for Blood Youth is Kaya, who chatted to us just before his set at 2000 Trees.
'Starve' leans into the heavier, grittier side of Blood Youth so first off- what are your favourite underrated heavy album?
‘Uh- fuck! First thing that came to me is the last album of Ghost of a Thousand released.’
Do you think the bands you listened to back in the day have influenced who you are and your music now?
‘100%, I used to go to these festivals all the time. My favourite bands when I was 15-17 were Gallows, Dillinger Escape Plan, Ghost Of A Thousand, I used to love all those bands and I used to be like “I will do anything to do this, I will do anything to be here.’
‘We all went to these kinds of festivals and we all stood in the crowd like ‘I wanna be doing this’
You talk about finally being here, but do you ever think there’s someone in the crowd who’s thinking just like you did? Is that a full circle moment for you?
‘You know you asked that question and it’s so funny, Loz isn’t here to perform with While She Sleeps so I’m gonna help them out and the song I’m doing with them I used to listen to on the bus on the way to school.
We (Blood Youth) all went to these kind of festivals- Download, Reading & Leeds- and we all stood in the crowd like “I wanna be doing this” so if anyone can get any sort of inspiration to start a band, it’s that.’
‘I was stressed, depressed, all over the place trying to put together an album.
I was waking up in the morning coughing up blood.’
So, with your new album ‘Starve’, even in its name it alludes to something dark and bloodlust like. Could you elaborate on the significance of the name and how it connects with the album?
‘Well, we wanted to write the most savage album we could but like viscerally and visually. But we all had our own different experiences writing that album. I was going through a lot of health problems writing and this isn’t why the album is called 'Starve' but, when I was writing the album I got a really bad stomach ulcer. I was stressed, depressed, all over the place trying to put together an album. I was waking up in the morning coughing up blood and just terrified so I didn’t eat for four days.
We have a lyric like “I starve myself” and when we said that line in the studio we were all like “ah man, that really means that to me” and to everyone in the band the word “Starve” meant something different- to me it was my body. So, as we went through names it was that one that we were all like “yup.”’
As you mentioned, your new sound leans into that heavy and savage sounds, and at a festival like this you can’t help but realize the sheer success of heavy and Hardcore bands with similar sounds. You have Knocked Loose selling out headline tours and Architects selling out stadium tours, do you ever feel as a band in the same scene that there’s a pressure to live up to the hype now there’s a spotlight on you?
‘I don’t think we do, but I feel like you put that pressure on yourself if you label yourself in that sort of way. If you walk around with that attitude of “we’re ONLY a Hardcore band” so now you’ve well you put yourself in that box. We’ve never called our band anything, we’ve always just said we’re heavy. Saying that has allowed us to play with PVRIS and Architects. I don’t think you should label yourself, let people label you but don’t label yourself
It’s so funny because our wikepedia page has a bit that says “genre” and it literally had 10 lines of like “Metalcore, Hardcore, Progressive, Death Metal.” Okay that’s cool, but you put that pressure on yourself when you put yourself in a box and expect yourself to live up to that label.’
Speaking of your Wikipedia page, whilst I was researching you guys I found out you guys are from Harrogate. What’s the most “Harrogate” thing someone could do?
‘It’s gotta be something like not having enough Olives in your martini- it’s very posh.
We love Harrogate by the way- I’m not taking the piss out of it- we’re very proud of where we come from, it’s where we all started playing in our own bands before Blood Youth and where our family is but it was difficult trying to set up heavy shows when we were younger in a town that wasn’t that heavy.’
‘I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost girlfriends, I’ve lost time but everything we’ve done as a band outweighs that.’
Speaking about your roots, you’ve really built yourself up over the years to play gigs like this. There’s so much that’s gone into the making of Blood Youth, but the idea of being in a band and playing huge shows can often be glamourized. Is there any aspect of being in a band that people don’t really understand?
‘I think people don’t realize how much you lose personally from being in a band. I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost girlfriends, I’ve lost time but everything we’ve done as a band outweighs that. The stages we’ve played, the people we’ve met have made it worth it.
But It really grates on you, like touring- we played 35 shows in 35 days on our last tour with no breaks, and no one expects you to have a break.’
I don’t think people realise what actually goes into touring can you, for example today, run through your routine just to get here?
‘Luckily, I was in my bed this morning, got picked up at 9am, drove for four hours and straight into the press area.
With touring it’s more like travel, show, hotel or air bnb, travel for 8 hours during the day. The thing people doesn’t realize is when we’re on tour we’ve literally driven for 9 hours during the day, and as soon as you come out it really hits you in the face. We’re always very polite and love what we do but its very intense, a lot of emotion.’
Finally, if this album is the heavier Blood Youth, what is next?
‘Musically… I don’t know. I can always guarantee with Blood Youth that it’s always gonna be 100% real with good riffs and good breakdowns. But people won’t be able to predict what the next album will be about.’
Blood Youth’s new album Starve is available to stream now.
Interview - Yasmin Summan
Live Photos - Sam Robinson Photography