There's an Egyptian making waves with her Country-Rock band in the Big Apple. We catch up with Yasmin Tayeby and band-mate Evelyn Brown to talk about where they came from and where they're heading...
Big Blue Lights is a New York-based band fronted by the Egyptian Yasmin Tayeby and Evelyn Brown, backed up by Pete Recine, Ian Tair and Mike Howard. It's rare to find an Egyptian into Country music; there's no scene for it here so it makes sense that Yasmin would pack up to start her musical journey in the States. They recently released their first single Know His Name, a Rock track with Country inflections soothed over by Yasmin's velvety vocals and a grow-on-you hook. The group are clearly talented, and the only way is up for them. We catch up with Yasmin and Evelyn to talk about fate and gigs in the Big Apple…
How did Big Blue Lights get together?
Yasmin: We were freshman roommates at Berklee College of Music. Initially, we hated each other! Eventually, though, we started getting along and now we’re great friends. Both of us have been singing and writing for years, and when we both found ourselves in NYC last year so we thought we should give a go at doing something together.
How would you describe BBL’s musical style in three words?
Yasmin: Soulful, gritty and fun!
Who are your musical inspirations?
Yasmin: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Joan Jett, The Beatles, Miranda Lambert, Patty Griffin, Jack Johnson.
Evelyn: Nirvana, Miranda Lambert, Counting Crows, Patty Griffin, Sheryl Crow.
Your voices and flow remind us a bit of Sheryl Crow. Has anyone ever told you this before?
Yasmin: No, but I’ll take it!
Evelyn: Yes, I love hearing that!
Would you compare BBL to any other bands out there at the moment?
Yasmin: We’ve had problems with this question… When we originally started the band, we thought we wanted to go totally Country. As we started writing, though, we found ourselves developing into a Rock meets Country feel - along the same lines as our influences.
How important do you think it is to move away from Egypt to a city like New York in order to make it in the music industry?
Yasmin: There are pros and cons. On the one hand, the resources available in NYC, and the network of people here are unbeatable. There are also countless venues to perform at, which always helps getting your music out there. On the other hand, it’s a small fish in a big pond scenario. In Egypt, it’s a lot easier to get traction and pick up a fan base. For example, Nile FM is great about showcasing homegrown artists and our first single is currently on the programme. There’s no way that you could get an unknown band on the biggest radio station in the city here.
Have you had any gigs in New York yet?
Yasmin: Yeah, we played at NYU’s Relay For Life, which is an event in the States held to raise money for cancer research and awareness. Our most recent was at Rockwood Music Hall, a popular venue in NY for our style of music.
Where did the name come from?
Yasmin: I woke up one night, and had a dream that we were opening for Miranda Lambert. There was an MC and he announced us as “Big Blue Lights”. I had no idea where the name came from, but I thought it sounded pretty cool. I called Ev to ask what she thought, and she thought I was screwing with her. Apparently, her dad’s first band was called Big Blue Men, and it came to him in a dream! Basically, it’s fate.
What's your stance on American Idol?
Yasmin: I know musicians hate on Idol all the time… I don’t watch it, but I don’t mind it. Admittedly, most of the contestants seem to just get up on stage and scream, which I can’t STAND! But every once in a while, some great people come out of it. Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson… all very talented singers who are now pop artists in their own rights.
Evelyn: I agree with almost everything Yasmin said, it’s one of those competitions where you cannot deny the talent that has come out of it. Respected, but not our path.
What does the future hold for you guys? EP coming out soon?
Yasmin: The industry is weird these days. EP’s are becoming a little outdated, and now it’s more about singles. We’ve got our first single, Know His Name, out on SoundCloud and are planning on promoting that for now. In a few months, we’ll release our follow up single Grit, and so on. If BBL really starts going somewhere, then we can think about recording a full-length album.