Artist Interview: “Hyperspiritual” by Yus

Q: Hi Yus! I love the versatility showcased within your album “Hyperspiritual.” Synthpop and electropop are very dynamic genres to create, and your songs are a testament to your talent. I’m curious about your musical background; was your family musical when you were growing up?

YUS: Hello, and glad to hear you loved that aspect of the album. I think it’s important for albums to be somewhat of a journey, an odyssey of sorts. I think of Dark Side of the Moon as an example of this. Yes, there are songs with start and stop times, but it feels like a connected piece of work that is incomplete if you just listen to one song on its own. As far as my family, my parents were not musicians, or not to the degree where it was a passion or hobby of theirs. My mother is an author, poet, and screenwriter, and her affinity for writing definitely had an impact on my understanding and appreciation for language. My older brother was in a cover band when we were teens in Belgium, and my sister played piano while growing up, but neither of them have pursued music to the extent that I have.

Q: While each song featured on “Hyperspiritual” has elements that make it unique, they also immediately highlight your distinct sound. Wondering, who are your biggest musical influences to this day? Then, how do you take these inspirations to create a unique sound?

YUS: I think for this album, a lot of the inspiration came from Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreaks. I grew up on Kanye or Ye if you will. He was one of the artists I looked up to the most during my early years of my musical development. I tried my hand at rapping, but it’s not really my forte. I think I’m ok at it, and it’s definitely something I’ve explored a bit more in my more recent creations, but obviously this album with singing comes first.

I do personally believe that Ye is an amazing singer, I would borderline say he’s a better singer than a rapper. However, he’s an artist and really beyond both labels. My favorite song of his growing up was actually the collab he did with Common that he performed on The Chappelle Show called “The Food”. The ending part of the song I think is one of his most beautiful performances and vocal compositions.

Another huge inspiration of mine, which I credit in my bio, and was definitely THE reason I got into producing music, is an artist known as RJD2. I heard his song “1976” in an ad for adidas during the 2006 FIFA World Cup. I think his creative and seamless use of sampling and blended with real instruments is something that I’ve always wanted to emulate, and I hope I honored his work in the songs on Hyperspiritual. In terms of creating a unique sound from my inspirations, I think the process is very subconscious. There are so many other artists that have influenced me musically, it would take a long time to list them all. I think I just let the music soak in me, and then the influences inspire me to create something of my own, and I try to borderline copy their sound, but miserably fail and in doing so create this weird new sound that stands on its own.

Q: A personal favorite on the album is “WAYWYN,” which is almost seven minutes long. The instrumental, consisting of a high-pitched synth and foreboding melody, evokes emotions without lyrics. What are you hoping listeners take away from “Hyperspiritual”?

YUS: Thank you, I’m glad you like that song. I like it too. It’s a very emotional and deep cut for me. I remember listening to it on the San Francisco Bay Bridge after my show at The Ivy Room in Albany when I toured there last October, and it brought me to tears.

The chords that I played on the piano are more complex than what I’m used to, but I think I was able to come up with them as a result of my music theory studies. The song brings Frank Ocean to mind, and to be honest I don’t listen to his music that much, but there are a few songs of his that I really like a lot. I’m hoping listeners find healing and love from my album. The cover art is a thought form which signifies “sympathy and love for all”. I think a lot of people in the world are hurting at the moment. I’m hoping this album will be like an audio therapy experience. A hug and a kiss through your headphones or monitor.

Q: Being a rising artist in the social media age can be tricky; there’s more competition than ever. What is the best advice you’ve received about the music industry/fame, and how has it helped you navigate your journey so far?

YUS: That’s a tough one… I don’t really listen to people’s advice that much to be honest, especially not people in the industry. I think a lot of the lyrics on Nipsey Hussle’s Victory Lap are great advice for anyone who is trying to be an independent artist like myself. I believe I already had a lot of the beliefs that Nipsey related on that album, but if anything, it solidified my convictions in carving my own path. For example, a lot of artists currently are being told that they need to release singles on a regular basis to grow their fan bases. I think that’s fine and all, but I did that with my last two releases The Question and A Way Out, and I didn’t see much change in my audience or social status at all. It was mostly just very expensive to promote them, and at best I would get one play from a new listener, and then they might check out my other releases, but most would move on.

Some artists I saw go completely against this “singles” epidemic, namely a french artist who goes by Freeze Corleone who released two albums in the last 2 to 3 years. It inspired me to do the same with this record. I considered releasing every song as an individual single, and building up buzz over time, but there were too many indications against that route, and at the end of the day: Hyperspiritual is an album. All the songs on it are interconnected. That’s why I decided I was going to go against the grain, throw industry so-called “best practices” out the window, and release the entire album all at once. Sure, you can listen to the first song Kettle Beat as a preview of the rest of the album via Bandcamp, Apple Music, and Amazon Music, but I really want people to listen to the album in its entirety. Apparently Spotify doesn’t allow pre-adds, so that’s why it’s not on there currently. But I think it’s best that my audience on Spotify will get to listen to the album in full from the onset.

Q: Jumping off the last question, what advice would you give other artists trying to get their music out to the world?

YUS:  I would say make an album lol. All of my favorite artists, I’ve come to love them because of the great albums they made. It’s better because when you plug that release to fans, they get to spend more time with you, and your promo money goes further. I’m a big music listener and fan, and when I get to spend time with an artist by listening to an entire album of theirs, 20, 30, 40 minutes, it’s such a treat. I know our society is all about short form content and TikTok and all that at the moment, but I say go against the grain. Make something great that will stand the test of time.

Q: As I mentioned before, I love the versatility of “Hyperspiritual.” Songs like “Home” or “Give Me That” belong for dancing at the club, while other tracks such as “Smoke Rings” are heartbreaking songs about love and loss. In your own words, how would you describe the music that you typically create?

YUS: I view music creation as a form of therapy for myself, and when I listen to the songs I’ve created months, or years down the line, I find them to have this healing property that I can’t quite wrap my head around how it came to be. I think that’s the one “typical” part of my music. It’s healing.

Q: You attended Metropolitan Arts Institute for college and then studied music theory and piano performance at Phoenix College a year later. How has attending college for music helped you as an artist today?

YUS: I attended Metropolitan Arts Institute for high school, and interestingly enough, I didn’t take a single music class while I was there. My music studies at Phoenix College I think greatly contributed to my voice and hearing skills. It was there my aural perception teacher, Dr Kenneth Miller, encouraged me to join the P.C. Concert Choir, which for me was a very formative experience. It helped me to understand how artists like Brian Eno and Panda Bear were able to make such incredible music using their voices.

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life what would they be and why?

YUS: Man, I would probably say J Dilla’s Donuts, either Panda Bear’s Person Pitch or Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam, and maybe Hellboy by Lil Peep because I would probably be depressed lol.

Q: Thank you for sharing “Hyperspirtual” with us! Tell everyone what’s next for you. Are there any shows coming up?

I’m working on putting together some dates in Europe later this summer or fall as I will be going there to attend a friend’s wedding celebration. I may also try to tour in Asia, but that’s a somewhat distant plan. I’m not trying to play any shows in the U.S. currently, because I want to see how the album is received first, and I also want the shows to be an incredible, out of this world experience, so I’m not gonna rush into anything.

Interviewed by Melissa Cusano


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