Chargaux’s Yuli Is Going Out on Her Own With “Her”
Margaux Whitney, otherwise known as Yuli, has a lot to unpack. For the musician, previously one half of the classical string duo Chargaux, transition is the name of the game. Moving from a partnership to a solo project, after the success of Chargaux largely dominated her career, is a challenge that Yuli both acknowledges and welcomes. It’s pushed her beyond her comfort zone, allowing her to share with restriction, and made way for new skills to strengthen (singing, for example, was never a big part of Chargaux’s sound, but it’s now something Yuli pursues avidly).
Just in time for her very first single “Her” to drop, Milk fam photographer Andy Boyle went out with the musician to create a zine that embodies the creative force that is Yuli. Check it out above and read our full interview below.
What are you working on right now?
My debut album! Coming out next year. I am going to put out an EP first and my very first single is going to come out at the end of this month. I was a part of a string duo called Chargaux for a long time—about six years. The last thing we did together was tour with J. Cole in 2017 for the North American leg of his tour. When we got off the tour—tour is a really intense time—the group actually disbanded. From then on, I started working with my producer. He is in New York. I used to live in New York, but I live in Atlanta now. So we work remotely. We really vibe musically. At first, we were only working on demos and then the more we worked, we decided to do an entire album. I basically transitioned from touring and working with a group to doing my very first solo project. So that is what my journey has been so far.
What was it like going from a collaborative project to being the boss on everything?
Everything a has been a major transition—it was good and bad at the same time. It was very therapeutic and really wonderful but it’s totally different because you had a partnership before. You had someone to run specific ideas by. If you had a photoshoot, you do it together. If you’re going to tour, you do it together. If you rehearse, you do it together. So it is different being solo, but at the same time, I have a very specific voice and I have something I want to say and I have a way I want to portray myself—a part of myself I want to share. It is kind of hard to do that when you have two completely different individuals trying to do it at the same time. So this next chapter just feels like a relief and it is exciting and it is invigorating because I can share myself fully as I am, without any kind of inhibitions. So that is what I am really grateful for—the experience to learn how to perform and record and create music and be able to do it on my own. It is an exciting adventure.
What parts of your craft do you feel like you’re expanding on now, that you were maybe limited on before?
Definitely, I am singing a lot more. I love violas. I also play violin. So a lot of the music I made before what very instrumental based and now that I work specifically with a composer, I am able to bring in those elements and creating those melodies from my instruments but also play around with my voice more. It is really amazing to be able to play violin and viola and I am really grateful that I know how to and I got taught really early on. I have been exposed to music from the time I was a kid. Your voice is an instrument that you are born with and it is a way you can really express yourself fully. It is exciting to be able to expand on that more. That is what is different now, that I am using my voice now more that I ever have before.
Do you feel like you source inspiration from different places now that you are working on this separate project?
This whole journey has been more of self discovery. My inspiration has come from my actual experience in life. I would kind of describe myself as a introvert—a playful introvert. I like to interact with people and I do like to kick it with people, but I can spend a lot of time by myself. I can just spend the whole day in the house listening to music, cooking, just being with myself, doing yoga. I can just do that and be perfectly fine—I look at instagram like “Awe people are doing fun stuff! Cool! Great!” I am just going to be at home working. So for this this particular project my inspiration has definitely been my experience and rediscovering myself and finally not being afraid to stay what I want to say. Whatever those consequence are—that is fine but before I leave this earth I want to make sure I have said my peace and not be worried about what other people think or how I am going to be perceived. I have to say what is in my heart. I have to express what my true self is. At the end of the day, that is all that matters. If you don’t do it, you will never know what your life could have been like.
I also think that we all have something unique to say and no one can say it in quite the same way that you can.
Exactly. And I think a lot of people don’t get to tap into that. So I am taking to opportunity to do that now.
You have an EP coming and then an album, are they separate thematically as well or are they connected? Did you make them at the same time?
Yeah, they are definitely connected. I just wanted to give people a little taste, so they want more. The album Gary and I have now is 13 track and I started writing some more—maybe two more songs. We were asking ourselves, what are the pieces that will really introduce you to my perspective. So we went through and found the songs that are really cohesive and just start to tell the story. So they are definitely connected, I just wanted to get a little bit out there and get a feel for what the vibe is before I drop a whole project on people. Especially in this day and age, people are just dropping projects. I look on instagram and all these people are just putting out music constantly—it’s like a machine. I just want to give people a little bit to grasp onto.
Also you have to create the demand, otherwise people don’t have the attention span.
I just wanted to do it that way because it also gives me the opportunity to continue to write—so maybe by the time we put out the album, maybe it will be a different vibe. I look back at things I did earlier in the year and realize I am already different now. I already have something different I want to express. I wanna give myself that space to keep writing and see where that takes the project.
What is the storyline that threads everything together in the album?
I would describe this project as coming of age—like a grown woman coming of age. A lot of times when people talk about coming of age, they mean like a teenage movie, but it happens constantly in your life—in your 20’s you feel a certain way and your 30’s, 40’s. So for me, this is about self discovery and really finding out who you are and really expressing who you are. So you will really feel that when you hear the music—the lyrics are really intimate. I don’t really hold back. It is really straightforward and relatable. I feel like that is what ties it together—that strain of vulnerability and self-reflection. In the actual music, it’s not emo, it is fun and upbeat. It’s reflective and it’s fun. I specifically chose to work with Gary because I wanted to work with someone who had experience composing, not just producing. I have worked with producers before, but with Gary it is a collaborative process. I record an idea and send it to him and then he would expand on it and send it back—that would send the song in a different direction. Because he has so much experience composing for installations and films, the way he approaches music is much more orchestral and it is creating more of an experience. That also kind of informs the sound and creates that thread of continuity between the EP and the album.
Stay tuned to Milk for more DIY projects.