AndYes, poet and improviser extraordinaire
David Loret de Mola, better known by his stage name AndYes, is manifesting his vision within the Sacramento music and arts scene as a member of the hip-hop collective Zero Forbidden Goals. The Sacramento-based poet and improviser extraordinaire has been teaching spoken word, improv and healthy expression in California and abroad for more than six years. On September 22, he releases his first spoken word album, When The Bomb Drops—which has been a year and a half in the making. SN&R was able to sit down with AndYes over coffee and discuss his new project, learning about self-love and how to be a passionate beam of light in spite of depression.
How did you come up with the name “AndYes?”
“AndYes” comes from an improv term called, “Yes, and” which is the basic philosophy of improv. Basically, you make me an “offer”—something that grows the scene—and then I build a comment and I hand it back to you. It’s this mutual agreement between us that we are going to build this universe together with its own rules and definitions. So, it’s inspired by that. It’s AndYes because I’m not making things up when I’m on stage … I have everything prewritten and pre-scripted. It’s just me presenting myself.
How did you find self-love?
Self-love is a hell of a concept that was introduced to me about three years ago. No one taught me about it when I was growing up. It’s not something they teach in schools, although they should! I wasn’t even asked “How do you love yourself” until I was 26. I had no concept of what that even meant. I spread a lot of myself out to the world and that was good and all, but then I found myself getting torn up on the inside because I didn’t take care of myself. I suffer from deep depression and, to this day, have to remind myself of why I do what I do. It’s been a three-year journey so far and I’m still learning what it means to love myself, and respect myself and allow people into my life who feed into that mindset.
What would you say to someone who is trying to deal with depression in healthy ways?
The most important thing you can do is to learn your signs. The thing with depression is everyone thinks it’s just sadness but it’s not. It’s depression of all systems. Break things down into little steps: roll over, put one foot on the ground, then the next. Be patient with yourself. Celebrate small joys and remember that not every day has to be your greatest achievement.
How open are kids to learning about poetry?
Working with kids is way easier than with adults. There’s a lot less set in in terms of their personality and in terms of their beliefs. I don’t have to fight through as much. It’s cool working with kids because their imagination is untethered and they’ll go to the weirdest places and not judge it. They just roll with it. When I work with adults, I kind of have to break through this layer of bullshit.
What’s going through your mind when you’re improvising a poem?
I’m like an animal: I get my stimulus input and then that triggers a reaction. It’s not so much that I’m thinking about what I’m going to do next, I’m listening to my partner and figuring out how I can build from what they’re saying. I really try to stay in that moment.
I see you’re wearing a mask right now. Tell me more about that.
I got it about two years ago. It’s real leather, handcrafted design, and when I saw it, it sparked me. I wear it during the first couple of minutes of each show because I get nervous and I don’t keep really good track of what my face looks like. So typically at the start, I’ll have my mask on but when I get to my “Alien” poem I find my confidence and a reason to lift it off.
Why are you releasing your new project now?
It’s a collection of poems I’ve done throughout my life. I’ve been wanting to make a spoken word album for about a year and a half now and I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to come about. Joining ZFG was really that push because everyone is doing so many amazing things in that group. It made me step my game up a little bit, so I decided to finally do it. It talks about my Cuban culture, my struggle with depression and many other life experiences.
What does Zero Forbidden Goals mean to you?
I love the name because “Yes, and” is the core of it. It means you can build anything you choose to put together. It means whatever you create with an open mind, that is how much you are limited. If you close yourself off, that is your limit. If you never want to leave your house, you’ll never leave. If you want to see the world, you’ll begin to travel. Simple as that.