Dark Bunny – We Only Come Out at Night

Photo by Bridget Collins
Photo by Bridget Collins

Dark Bunny is a vibe. Their music stings like a hit of nostalgia, sweeping, lush, hazy, filled with epic flourishes and mood; introspective jams for the lovesick, -lorn, -less. Think Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine—something beyond flimsy descriptors: Mazzy Star sharing a rehearsal space with Tamaryn and something else is born, a melting together of sound, style, that could easily soundtrack any city-lights-bleeding-across-the-windshield-of-an-idling-taxi-cab dénouement. Local singer-songwriter Emily Youel’s vocals are deceptive—restrained at times, perhaps, on tracks like “blur,” which then bloom and swell into an emotional gut punch. Enter, nostalgia—that line connecting the head to the heart plucked like a guitar string, and there’s a ton of reverb.

And so we try to understand this music, to shoehorn it into a familiar genre: Bedroom Pop? Shoegaze? Freak Folk? Any of the threadbare catchalls like Indie or Alternative Rock? Or is it something different, a sound so deeply personal that it cannot be contained—it’s exclusively Dark Bunny, the thoughts and feelings of Emily Youel set to music. The result? Sensitive, powerful stuff.

We recently caught up with Youel in Uptown to talk mindfulness, inspiration and Dark Bunny’s eponymous debut.

When did you get into music?

I’ve always been drawn to and inspired by music. Even as a really young kid, I was determined to make music. I remember my parents took me to a production of The Lion King on Broadway, and I got the CD and learned all the parts. [laughs] Since then, I was doing theater for a while, choir, but I always wanted to know how to create music myself. I started a little bit in college, but post-college I really focused on it.

What’d you go to school for?

Music Education [which Youel teaches, by day, to K – 5]. So, in my free time I’d sit and practice writing songs. But college is so busy, you know? 

What was the trajectory from college to what you’re doing now?

My college experience informed a lot of where I could go, post-college. In college, I was making all these connections with some of my best friends now, who are in the music scene, and we’d just, like, sit outside by bonfires and sing all night. Like every night. Then I started going to the festivals they were playing, and just feeling like I really wanted to start sharing my songs and my voice with people. So I just started to go for it and focus on it, because I finally had the time. And I was like, If I’m not gonna do this now, then it’s never gonna happen.

I tried being in a musical after college. I was like, Is this what I want to do? But no, my interest is in writing music. Not that I don’t enjoy performing in musicals—I think it’s fun. But I enjoy the artistic experience of creating the music.

Can you talk a little about your influences?

I love Mazzy Star. Last winter, I was on a kick of Mazzy Star, and I was like, This is the best music. I love the blend of Americana and shoegaze. My Bloody Valentine is another influence—Loveless just had its 30th anniversary. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working on music?

I love getting outside. I love getting out of Minneapolis and going to small towns, going on hikes. I love to skateboard, so everyday after school I try to skate around the lake. Either skating or running. 

This has become an increasingly less hokey question, but what is your sign?

I’m a Virgo. I could go on and tell you the other ones.

Go ahead.

I have a Cancer moon and a Leo rising. So Virgo sun: that’s saying I’m very just-so about everything, and I’m very detailed. Very organized with things that I care about, but not with things that I don’t. Like my [driver’s] license getting renewed [note: we were turned away from the previous bar because Emily’s license was expired, and so we find a table next door, at a considerably louder bar; listening back, Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” grades loudly into something bombastic by the Bee Gees, etc., and the din of surrounding conversations present their own challenges, interview-transcribing-wise]—I’m like, It’ll happen. [laughs] Leo rising means that…well…it basically means you like attention. And then Cancer moon: they’re known to be very emotional. 

Photo by Bridget Collins

And very intuitive, right?

Yeah. I feel that. It makes a lot of sense to me. And whether or not it’s real, or if it has to do with manifesting this reality for yourself after reading, like, What is a Virgo? Oh, they’re organized. Well I should try to be more organized then. But of course Virgos can be perfectionists—being a perfectionist definitely has its downsides. 

What’s next for Dark Bunny?

We’re working on putting out a few more singles over the next couple months, and we have a record that’s planned to come out on Valentine’s Day. Aside from that, we’re working on booking shows. There are a couple of potential festival dates, for Midwest festivals, and some shows around town. 

Yeah, very excited about the songs. I’ve been kind of sitting on them and thinking up arrangements for a while, so I’m really excited about them.

In a world of social media—and now the metaverse—how do you find peace?

I never want to run my life by social media. It’s so sad. Because sometimes I do get too invested in it for a minute, and when I start to notice that, I disconnect for a bit. And I just feel happier.

Finding peace was a huge process for me, like, 2020, 2021. I didn’t really have a big relationship with it until I was forced to be alone for a long time. And that was a really good experience for me, because I learned about all these things I could do to make myself feel calm and complete. You know, meditation is an everyday thing. I have a morning ritual that I try to follow as best I can, which is a mixture of meditating and reading and moving and journaling. In the beginning, when I started doing this, it felt like I was reaching for those four things. But now I find myself falling back onto them, because they’re things that I need—like drinking water.

Where do you find musical inspiration?

It comes a lot from listening to music that really captures me. I get obsessed with songs, and then I’m like, Okay, why do I love this song so much? And picking that apart, as well as drawing from personal experiences. It comes a lot from feeling experiences, and then trying to emulate how that feels in music. I really love, and try to draw from, this juxtaposition of sweetness and aggression in my music. I tend to get obsessed with things that sound sweet but have this darkness to them. 

Catch Dark Bunny, dropping Valentine’s Day, on your desired platform. 

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