Yellow Days’ George Van Den Broek has spoken to NME about his new album ‘Hotel Heaven’, the isolating experience of being a Soundcloud sensation, being inspired by Tame Impala and learning to embrace the oddness in his music.

‘Hotel Heaven’ was released on Friday (April 5) and is the follow-up to a trilogy of records (‘Inner Peace’, ‘Slow Dance & Romance’  and ‘Apple Pie’) that Yellow Days wrote and recorded during lockdown as a means of escape. While that music was inspired by frank honesty, ‘Hotel Heaven’ is a “surreal”, otherworldly concept album.

“It’s set in a dystopian future where Earth has been destroyed and the rich and famous have escaped to a space cloud called Hotel Heaven, with all the pleasures and luxuries they had before,” explained Van Den Broek. “It was inspired by the conversations about Elon Musk going to Mars.”

The record and accompanying music videos also feature a character known as The Concierge. “She’s this foul-mouthed, benevolent character similar to a chorus from a Greek Tragedy of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio,” Van Den Broek explained. “The idea is she’s writing out people’s lives as they live them. If you were a godlike figure that knew all the horrible things that were happening in the world, you’d probably be jaded too.”


Van Den Broek continued: “Before this record, I’ve always treated music as biographical storytelling and never spoke about things that weren’t too far removed from the truth. With ‘Hotel Heaven’, I wanted to play a version of myself.”

“It just felt like the right time to really dig into my imagination. Making a concept album unlocked something with music for me,” he added, before he said ‘Hotel Heaven’ felt like a fresh start for him.


Musically, ‘Hotel Heaven’ sees Yellow Days return to his roots. “I’ve toured America so much in recent years that I felt like I was starting to lose touch with my Britishness.  I wanted to reconnect with that on ‘Hotel Heaven’,” said Van Den Broek. “There’s a lot of The Kinks, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin but I’ll forever be a Ray Charles fanatic as well.”

He added: “It’s a beautiful time for me and this is the perfect time for a record like ‘Hotel Heaven’. Superstars like Thundercat, Tyler, The Creator and Mac DeMarco have really done the hard work in paving the way for artists like me. It feels like people are crying out for some funky rock jazz fusion. I’m excited to do my thing.”

In recent years, Van Den Broek has also worked with a number of jazz fashion musicians, and wanted to take those new-found skills into a rock album. “By bringing together rock and funk, I’ve ended up with a record that feels a lot like Prince,” he said. “In a classic Gen Z fashion, I did it without realising that combination is actually a well-established part of musical history.“


“All good music has tons of oomph and I wanted to find something that had punch. I wanted it to be odd. I wanted to let that weirdness be the point of the music,” Van Den Broek went on. “Why is it weird? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just weird, but it’s too early to be doing too much self-analysis.”

‘Hotel Heaven’ might take place in a fantastical universe but that idea was born from a deeply personal place. “I was going through an intense time and the album came about from feeling like I needed to get my shit together and understand what I was about,” said Van Den Broek.

Growing up, Van Den Broek was obsessed with becoming a singer after watching the 2004 Ray Charles documentary Ray and grew up on a diet of Mac DeMarco, King Krule and Tame Impala. “I was besotted with that whole generation and started writing my own songs.”

After uploading a few to Soundcloud, Yellow Days was championed as a relatable voice of a generation by fans, while offers from major labels were filling up his inbox.

“Before I knew it, I was signed, sealed and delivered,” he said. 2017’s debut album ‘Is Everything OK In your World?’ was released by Sony Music and saw Yellow Days touring the world, while 2020’s 23-track follow-up ‘A Day In A Yellow Beat’ failed to hit the same heights, thanks in part to it being released six months into the global pandemic. Yellow Days parted ways with Sony soon after.

“I couldn’t stop feeling like I was a failure and I’d wasted my own potential,” admitted Van Den Broek. “This album was a way for me to treat myself as a punching bag for becoming one of these people who sits around, living off the past and becoming detached from why I made music in the first place. The voice that I’m using on ‘Hotel Heaven’, there’s a real desperation to it and the songs go into my relationship with drugs, indulgence and self-destruction,” he explained.

Van Den Broek explained how he “left school at 16 to pursue music, while everyone else grew up and did normal shit” – leaving him “very isolated”.

“I was in a position where I was basically the CEO of a company with contracts and various other legal bits to think about,” said Van Den Broek. “It’s also hard to tell who has your best intentions at heart, and who doesn’t. You spend half the year travelling the world. You have your first panic attack, you start living with anxiety, you get addicted to various drugs. It was definitely a weird time, being isolated within your own fantastical dream.”

He added: “It’s a world’s smallest violin situation though, isn’t it? I’ve never been ungrateful though. I know I’ve got an opportunity to do something that matters.”

Over the course of making ‘Hotel Heaven’, Van Den Broek stopped beating himself up and rediscovered that sense of purpose. “It was a real attempt to shake off those ups and downs,” he offered. “This album is a weird mix of happy and sad. If you want to make a case for hope, you have to start with why everything is shit otherwise it can be quite disingenuous.”

“The start of the album has this sickly enthusiasm and inebriated hope to it, which breaks down over the course of the record,” he explained. “‘Crying For Help’ is the realisation that you’re not OK and you need someone to help you, before ‘Planet Earth’ ends the record with this real hopefulness. That song is me discovering what actually matters. For all the warts and ugliness, life is actually really beautiful.

“I hope people find the record, and the message about hitting the bottom but wanting to come back up, uplifting.”

While wanting to “avoid using the word ‘cathartic’, Van Den Broek likened releasing the album to taking “a big, proverbial poo.”

To celebrate the release of ‘Hotel Heaven’, Yellow Days is heading out on his first UK headline tour in over five years this month ahead of a run around North America.

“These are going to be the weirdest gigs I’ve ever done in my life,” said Van Den Broek, with The Concierge set to come to life onstage. “It’s a real theatre-based rock show that’ll play with the social contract of a concert. It’s going to be this flamboyant expression of ideas. It’s very odd and will definitely challenge people,” he added. People might like the album, but they might not like the feeling of actually being at Hotel Heaven.”

As well as rehearsing for tour, Van Den Broek has had several meetings with filmmakers about expanding the world of ‘Hotel Heaven’ (“It just seems to unlock this spectacular creativity in people and I’ve realised this world is much bigger than just an album”) and is already looking ahead to the next record. “I’m really excited about it, but I’m obviously not going to say anything more about it.”

Van Den Broek added: “There was always so much pressure to write hit songs but I’ve realised that’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to make interesting music. My mission is to make people walk away from a show feeling lighter.

“I want my music to wake something up inside of people and make the blood course through their veins a little bit quicker. Ultimately, I want to make them feel alive.”

‘Hotel Heaven’ is available now via Sugar Loaf Records. Yellow Days tours the UK this month. Visit here for tickets and information.