Chatterbox: T.E. Yates opens up about his neurodiversity, his next folk album and his animation artwork

Hey T.E. Yates, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. Could you tell us something about yourself that nobody knows?
This is kind of a hard question as I tend to be very open, honest and upfront – I don’t tend to hide very much away! However, I was diagnosed autistic in 2014 at the age of 26 – after being reticent about this for a long time, I’ve started to talk more about my experiences as a neurodivergent person and to use my platform as an artist to do this. The opening track “Condition” from my new EP Strange Weather is the most forthright that I’ve been about my experiences in my lyrics to-date – although the writing of this song pre-dated the diagnosis by a few years.

What influences have gone into your sound recently?
There’s a wide array of influences which have gone into my latest EP – spanning Americana, folk, old-time, 60s pop, 70s songwriters, post-punk, rock and even jazz and ragtime. I’m always listening to music and I listen to everything from the earliest 1920s/30s blues, country, old-time and jazz up to electronic music, experimental, ambient and minimalism of today.

However, more recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of folk (including traditional folk plus more singer-songwriter type folk in a broader sense), old-time and bluegrass. 

What are you currently working on?
I imagine that my next album will be more of a “folk album”, so to speak – whereas my prior releases, including the new EP, have reflected the eclecticism of my broad listening tastes, I imagine that my next recording sessions will be more firmly and consistently rooted in acoustic instrumentation associated with traditional folk from Great Britain and Ireland plus old-time music from North America.

I completed a wholly new song for the first time very recently and I’ve been performing this live throughout the tour – this was written on mandolin and is strongly influenced by all the old-time fiddle tunes I’ve been learning. So I expect that my next recordings will be in-keeping with this.

What are your plans for the year ahead?
I’d love to begin a new animation to accompany “Palace of Your Master” – my personal favourite from the new EP. I’d also like to spend time creating some new pencil drawings. Music wise, I really want to focus upon working on new material with my next recording sessions in mind. So, ideally, this is what I’d like to achieve in 2022 with my music, animation and artwork.

Any top tips for getting through this difficult time?

Stay strong! Times are uncertain and the situation can evolve and change quite rapidly. I’ve found that my creative pursuits have really helped me through – my advice, particularly for fellow creative practitioners of any discipline, would be to keep being creative and also to put things on the horizon to look forward to. On the other hand, don’t be too hard on yourself if your creativity has lapsed and you’ve run into creative block during the present time – give yourself some space and time. Be kind to yourself. If you’re feeling anxious due to these challenging times and you’re experiencing creative blockage, indulge in activities that you find comforting. Connect with friends, family and loved ones to help you through. The creativity will come back eventually.

Follow T.E. Yates on Instagram

Photo by Jolyon Halroyd.

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