Toronto indie duo YSSY (say: “yessy”) makes vivid, synthy alt-pop that’s throwback-tinted and refreshing all at once. Comprised of singer-songwriter/producer Elliot Caroll and multi-instrumentalist/producer Simeon Abbott, the pair met on a first date and immediately bonded over a shared love of modern pop sounds and classic songcraft. Within months, they cemented their musical partnership and built a studio together.
Caroll began her career as a recording artist in her teens, later honing her craft in Los Angeles, working with eminent writers and producers. Abbott, a jazz-trained pianist, brings the genre-bending versatility he displays as the keyboardist for renowned music collective Dwayne Gretzky.
The resulting music from their collaboration as YSSY seamlessly blends earworm-worthy hooks with signature retro-tinged sounds. On their debut EP, The Way It Was, the duo hints at varied influences like Y2K-era Max Martin, ABBA, Bruce Hornsby, 90s power pop, and the most creative corners of contemporary radio. The songs are as thoughtful as they are catchy, with sharp lyrics that explore both interpersonal relationships and introspection.
Over the EP’s six self-produced tracks, YSSY packs a skillfully-crafted synthpop punch of smooth production and nostalgic narratives told through Caroll’s crisp, candid voice. With an infectious beat and bouncy 80s bassline, “At Least We Know” is a tongue-in-cheek disco pop anthem about allowing yourself to start something new, even when you think you know how it’s going to turn out. The Scandipop-inspired “Sooner” is an “almost-love song” immortalizing the electric moment of realizing of how you feel about someone. “Burn My House Down” paints a vibrant portrait of depression and self-improvement, with bombastic drums (c/o Rich Knox of Danko Jones) and buoyant piano riffs. “90s Crush” is a lush, electronic slow burn that longs for a missed connection in the era of Blockbuster and AOL dial-up. Explosive and heartwrenching, “How to Fall Out of Love” captures a relationship at a crossroads, showcasing intimate vocals and piano breakdowns that are distinctly YSSY. “You Stay I Stay” tells an atmospheric story about meeting one’s match, featuring glitchy textures, dreamy keys, and a soaring singalong chorus that will echo after the album is over.
At once polished and genuine, The Way It Was is an introduction to a band that’s rapidly making their mark, with national airplay on CBC Radio and Radio One. YSSY’s 80s synthwave rendition of the “The Mandalorian” theme has racked up over 3.5 million views on YouTube, garnering buzz and new listeners across the globe. True to their tradition of wasting no time, YSSY is back in the studio with their full-length album due out in 2022.