This month we had a chat with another emerging artist based in Melbourne (I think they are putting something in the water over there). We caught up with Yeo before he heads out on tour all across Australia in support of his recently released album, Desire Path. We talk about collaborations, the music scene in Australia, and what fans can expect from the upcoming tour. Dive in.
Describe your sound for us.
It’s like pop music, but it’s a real dodgy imitation of it. I listen to a lot of commercial pop music and I try to imitate it, but I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on big studios and stuff like that.
What are you currently listening to? Who is your favorite emerging artist right now?
I’ve been in and out of listening to a lot of K-pop. And in the last 12 months, I’ve started DJing a lot and the music I really like to play is R&B so I’ve been digging back to that kind of stuff.
If I were to look locally I would say some of my favorite acts are actually friends of mine. I pay a lot of attention to the local music that’s around me and there’s a person we’re taking on tour with us called Lonelyspeck and their music is a lot like mine in that it’s kind of R&B influenced with their own spin on it. Lonelyspeck is great, good production, low-key chill stuff with great vocals and writing.
How did you get started singing & producing?
I studied music technology at university so that was all recording, producing, things like that. I didn’t really know that I could write music at that time and I experimentally put together a pop track and put it on Triple J Unearthed, this is like eleven years ago, and they actually played it on Triple J and I realized the stuff that I was just putting together for fun, it means something to someone. I didn’t expect that and I was like, “Okay let’s run with it!” Since then I’ve made my own stuff and pushed forward with that.
What is your creative process like?
It can start anywhere and it changes all the time. Sometimes it starts with a beat when I’m just mucking around at home, other times I might be sitting on a train or something and a lyrical idea comes to my head so I’ll write it down on the phone straight away and then go home and work on it. At the end of the day, it always comes back to a small idea that becomes something you can loop and develop. I spend hours nudging things around and changing chords and playing with everything until it’s a real tasty bit that sounds really good in a loop and then from that, I expand it or add sections and eventually, it becomes a full song. Sometimes, I can bust through that in a day and then the next day I can mix it straight away. It’s really fun when it’s that efficient because it keeps the ball rolling.
Your latest album, Desire Path, features a lot of collaborations. And you’ve stated that “this is a record I’ve made with friends, for my friends, while in search of friends.” Did you set out to intentionally make a record like that or did it just happen?
There wasn’t really any intention behind it, I just wanted to collaborate. I found that a lot of people that I wanted to collaborate with in far away lands that I didn’t really have any relationship with, it didn’t quite feel right. So I started looking a lot closer to home to people that I talk to regularly or are acquainted with their music already and have a friendly rapport with. So from there, naturally, it just kind of happened. But yeah there definitely wasn’t an intention to have a lot of collaboration, just all of a sudden all these opportunities were happening and I was like, “I feel good about this and wanna put it on the album.” So that’s what happened.
What do you want listeners to take away from this album?
I hope they get into the lyrics, into the stories. I think songwriting is the most important part for me. If anyone has a record player I hope they get a vinyl too ‘cause we put a lot of effort into making the vinyl really special. I hope they take it, like it, and check out all the artists that are featured on it as well. And I hope they stick around long enough for the next record.
How do you feel about the Australian music scene or Melbourne in particular? What’s your favorite aspect or least favorite aspect about the scene?
Melbourne’s great, it’s probably the best place for someone like me. There’s a lot of diversity in the scene here and support for that. It’s a cool scene here. There’s a lot of resources too which is good. If you kinda zoom out a little bit on the Australian music scene, it’s tiring me out a lot because there’s a big focus on white Australian musicians, there always has been. We’re happy to book and promote people of color from overseas, but when it comes to Australians it’s a real struggle to see a diverse platform for Australian musicians.
As an Asian, it’s really hard to see someone else out there doing what I’m doing. There are no role models or examples. I see a lot of big festivals that book a lot of white male acts. That’s the Aussie scene at the moment and I think it’s always been that way but the last two years I’ve really started to see it, maybe because I’ve started paying attention to that kind of thing. But the good thing about Melbourne and other metropolitan areas is there are pockets of people who come to together and form communities to try and change that and seeing that makes me feel a lot better about what I’m doing.
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not recording/working on music?
I really like fixing and riding bicycles. I like playing baseball with my friends. I like binging on films, going to the beach, classic relaxation things.
How are you feeling about the upcoming tour?
I’m really nervous, it’s a big one. It’s a lot of dates for Australia and we’re spending a lot of money on it. We’ve done a tour this big before and I was in exactly the same position where I was like, “Ah, I don’t know, are we gonna make it?” That’s why I’m nervous. I also have some sort of throat infection. I don’t know where it came from but it’s the worst timing ever. But I’ll survive, we always pull through.
I mean I am excited. It’s always fun to take your team, get on a plane, and go play some shows.
What can fans expect from your live shows?
We are gonna be bringing guests on stage with us at almost every show to sing the collab songs from the album. And we’re almost playing every song from the album, there’s only one we’re leaving off. I’m super excited to share that on a live platform with everyone. It’s always good to perform new material and we’ve got some new visuals as well. And we’ll be bringing merch too.
Do you have a favorite song to perform?
At the moment, I really like playing “@snackswithyeo”. I get to play this really nice piano chord progression on it. And the lyrics are really easy so I can just relax and sink into the groove. Because I just repeat the same line over and over again. Me and my drummer Andy, we’ve been practicing that one and it’s always weird because some of these songs feel really good unexpectedly when we’re practicing them, and then all of a sudden they become the live favorite and it might not even be a single. And that’s exactly what happened with this one.
If you’re in Australia, be sure to catch Yeo on tour at the dates & cities listed below: