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Destined for Greatness

Tilly and the Wall’s Kianna Alarid Discovers Her New Path

By Kyle Eustice

Mention the band name “Tilly and the Wall” and most people know what Omaha band you’re talking about. Mention “Yes You Are” and you might get more a puzzled look… but not for long. The Kansas-City based five-piece, fronted by Tilly’s Kianna Alarid, is just beginning to breathe new life. It’s about time Alarid stepped into center-stage. Her captivating and effervescent personality was made for it.

Granted, Tilly and the Wall has hit some incredible milestones in its tenure. On the heels of 2007’s Bottom of Barrels, the group released 2008’s o, which produced the singles “Bad Education” and “Pot Kettle Black,” the latter being extremely well-received. It was featured in television spots for the Seth Rogan film Observe and Report and served as background music to TV shows like 90210. But then life happened. Alarid moved to Kansas City, got married and had a child. Derek and Jamie got married then had two children while Jenkins and White moved to Los Angeles. Needless to say, the band went on a much-needed, self-imposed hiatus in 2009. They had been touring for the past eight years and it consumed most of their adult life. The break seemed necessary to not only regroup, but to reinspire. In 2012, Tilly and the Wall released Heavy Mood then, once again, went down their separate paths. It gave Alarid time truly dig deep and figure out what she wanted. It turned out Yes You Are was just what she needed.

Comprised of Jared White, Jacob Temeyer, Joe Wilner, Willie Jordan, and Alarid, it’s a musical partnership made in heaven. Although Yes You Are’s first album is still being finished, in the meantime, you can listen to “World Without End,” “HGX” and “Echo” at As Yes You Are prepares to take off on a national tour with Neon Trees, Alarid enthusiastically discussed the new project, Yes You Are’s debut album and manifest destiny.

Check out the video for “World Without End” here:

Now! (Kyle Eustice): How did the Yes You Are project begin?

Kianna Alarid: About four years ago, I started searching for the right collaborator to work with on my next project. My manager at the time arranged for me to go to Sweden and work with my “dream” producer and I went all the way there and made a great friend, but it didn’t work out musically. In the years following that, I collaborated with several people in Kansas City and made good music, but none of it was exactly right for me. Then, through mutual friends, I met Jared White, who had also been searching for a collaborator. He was sort of a mysterious figure to me as he wasn’t part of any scene here, but was making some of the best songs I had ever heard on his own, basically in private. I can best describe the feeling of our first collaborative work together as a supernatural experience. He was definitely switched on in a way I’d never encountered in anybody before. To say that we “clicked” would be an understatement. We started writing together and we just didn’t stop. We probably wrote about 20 songs in a row and then chose 12 for our debut album, which we’re finishing now with two producers in Omaha.

How did you decide on the name?

We had a long list of names and Yes You Are was just the name above all other names that we had going. One of our songs has the lyric “Yes you are!” and I had added that to the list of ideas. We had our first show booked and needed to finally decide, and at that point our bassist Willie Jordan just looked at our list and said “Yes You Are, our name is Yes You Are. It sounds cool.” We were all like, “Ok!”

Tilly and the Wall had a lot of really good things going on. Why did you decide to start another band?

I felt called to do a different kind of project. I follow those kinds of callings. They always lead somewhere interesting. Tilly is family to me and we all support each other’s endeavors, artistic and otherwise.

In all of our talks, we have always seen eye to eye on the power of manifestation and other things in that realm. Where and how did you form these ideals?

There’s power in the ability to control and direct the thoughts in your mind. We all have countless thoughts passing through our minds all day everyday, some positive, some negative. At some point I realized that I could control which thoughts I focused on; the creative or the destructive. I experienced drastic positive changes and outcomes in my life when I made the decision to focus on what I wanted to happen instead of what I didn’t want to have happen. That’s just the tip of whole iceberg when you realize thoughts have power and you can control them. This is the basic principle of being an empowered person.

You’re clearly a very beautiful girl. Does that help or hurt in the music “business?” Have you ever felt mistreated in any way?

First of all, thank you for your kind words. I’ve never personally been mistreated by anyone in this industry for any reason, but I think that has something to do with who I am on the inside. I love makeup and I love fashion, but I think it’s apparent that’s not where I begin or end. Maybe I subconsciously project that and that’s why nobody messes with me.

In the video for “World Without End” they only show your face. Was this a conscious choice?

Yes, it was a conscious choice. We made it as a lyric video, but instead of text on the screen, you see someone clearly singing the lyrics in slow motion. It was a way to also to have listeners introduced to the singer of this new band. Being one continuous shot, with me as the only person needed, it was also extremely simple to make. We didn’t have to hire anybody or schedule around a big shoot and we found it a more interesting alternative to the basic lyric video.

What’s your stance on the word “feminist?”

I love all women, especially empowered women, but calling yourself a feminist does not automatically make you an empowered woman. If I had to pick any “ist” to identify with it would be artist. That being said, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re living in a time where the voice of the woman will shape the new world.

How did becoming a mother change your musical path? You in general?

When I became a parent it lit a new fire under my dreams. If my kid sees me never giving up on what I’m called to do than she’ll learn to never give up on what she’s called to do. In general, motherhood has clarified my purpose and made me more committed to my work.

How did the Neon Trees tour happen? What are you looking forward to about being on the road?

It’s pretty incredible actually. Tyler Glenn and I have a mutual friend who is a big supporter of Yes You Are . He talked about us a lot then finally played Tyler a few of our songs and his response was crazy good! We were so stoked that he loved the songs, but we were pretty shocked when we got an official tour invite from Neon Trees’ management about a week later. We are so grateful that our music left the kind of impact we had intended it to. I think what we are looking forward to most for this tour is leaving that kind of impact on everyone who sees us. We can’t wait!

Do you have a full-length out already?

We have tracked all 12 songs for our debut album and are now in the process of mixing and doing post production on them. We have about five finished so almost halfway there! We are so new though that we have no label, management or agents as of yet, but it’s a goal of ours to find all the right people within the next few months and get the album out as soon as possible.

Yes You Are with Neon Trees, June 26, at Stir’s Concert Cove, Council Bluffs, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35.

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