Yeek is embracing evolution to create his next project—interview
The grass isn’t greener on the other side; it’s only greener where you grow it, and Yeek is making sure he tends to his own garden in 2022. Wielding a pocket full of seeds and his transformative album Valencia, Yeek has certainly proved that he is an artist destined for bloom. Heading into another year, the New Jersey-born musician is utilizing both his creative and personal transformations to send him soaring to new heights.
You dropped Valencia almost a year after the stay-at-home order was declared due to COVID-19. You shared once that a major theme surrounding this album is building a sense of community, something that felt especially important during this time. What’s one of the most essential things your community has taught you?
As important as it is to build a sense of community and to maintain one, it’s also really important to focus on your well-being and your own mental health. Especially before you start trying to cultivate a community where you’re nurturing these people and making sure everyone’s good. Within this time, it was almost like everyone within my community was trying to make sure they were good and that they were straight, and it made me realize that I needed to spend some time away from [others] because we’ll come back to each other and love each other even more than we did before.
But I think one thing that I’ve been taught within that experience of trying to build a community is that the same group of people within the community don’t always stay the same. They’re subject to change, and the group is subject to growth even within those changes. I’ve learned to expect change and to focus on yourself and your well-being, and then once you do that, you have the ability to nurture this community that you want to build and help grow.
How do you think that will play into your future projects?
I think it’ll play more into the writing of it. The trajectory of the writing and creative direction will definitely change. It might even allow me to be a little more vulnerable and more in a state of facing myself and then pouring that out into music. So it’ll be a little more personal than it will be about everybody around me.
Last year signaled a lot of forward motion for you, especially on the tour side of things. If you had to use one song to describe how it feels to finally be touring again, what would it be and why?
“Dirty Pillow” [off Valencia]. It’s funny you ask that because “Dirty Pillow” was really written because of that exact thing: touring. One of the main themes in the album Valencia as a whole was the feeling of touring. The backstories behind the writing of a lot of the music were things that I was feeling and thinking while on tour.
Listening to your discography, fans can definitely sense the tremendous amount of transformation your music has undergone in just a year’s time. What leaps have you taken as an artist that characterize some of the transformations we’re able to hear in your music?
As far as music that I’ve been working on that hasn’t been released yet, I think experimenting sonically and doing things that I’m not used to doing. Overall, I want to say being open to new experiences and being open to things that I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done yet, like taking upon new passions. For example, I feel like I’ve had this calling to be in the ocean more, and so on my birthday, I learned how to surf. I feel like being in the ocean helps me mentally and spiritually, and that is a big reflection on the things I feel when I’m writing new music.
Your visuals are awe-inspiring, each concept telling a fresh, introspective story of its own. Where do you draw inspiration from?
It definitely starts with cinema. I think in this life, everyone sees themselves as a main character. We’re living this life that feels like a movie, and we’re all the main character. So it’s really just me being imaginative and being like, “OK, here’s my little movie. Here’s the closest thing that I can give you to showing what my life is, what my movie is.” I feel like each music video is just a scene in the movie.
On the note of your visuals, Valencia had a beautifully accommodating short film, “h.a.w.a.i.i.” What’s the plan, if any, for visuals this year? Do you see yourself diving into more short films?
Yes, I think that’s one goal of mine that I want to achieve as a creative. Even though obviously everything starts with the music first, I think one thing I do hope to achieve is to make a full-feature film. Kind of like a rough autobiography about myself. I really want to make a film that’s roughly based around my experience growing up. That’s a passion project that I want to start, but not going to lie, I’m procrastinating a little. But only because I’m still living the content that’s going to be created.
Your latest single, “Feels Like I’m Flying,” sounds like the introduction to the soundtrack of this year, setting the tone that will send us soaring at full speed into the new. What are some things that you hope are eagerly awaiting your arrival this year?
I want to evolve my art direction. I think my main priority is to just make the best art that I can make for myself, but also for the world. Of course, not everyone’s going to like it, but I just want to be able to make art that I’m going to stand behind and just be really proud of. As an artist, we’re always our worst critics, and we are always already thinking about what we’re going to do better and better. But I want to look at my next project, whatever it is, and be like, “Damn, this is great” because I felt that way about Valencia. So now I want to take it to the next level and feel like I made something that’s evolved from Valencia. That’s what I hope to do, and everything that may come with it, I will embrace.