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INTERVIEW: Yify Zhang

Photo by Kevin Condon

Hi Yify, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

 Busy, but good! New York is having a rather cool summer this year, so I’m just enjoying being outside when I can where I can.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Waste”?

Waste is my personal favorite. I’m a relatively new artist. I started out as a classical instrumentalist and composer, and studied violin in college. But as for writing songs, I’ve only been doing that for a few years. Having my songs sound different from each other is really important to me. And of all the songs I’ve released, Waste is the MOST different. It doesn’t follow any particular song structure, and is minimalistic in lyrics.

I love the song most also because the creation process was so experimental. I met a talented, female producer – I Am Snow Angel. A few days after we met, the idea of Waste came, first just the verse. I had a really electronic and ethereal sonic landscape in mind. And the best person to help bring it to life was this female producer who is extremely talented at sound design. We crafted the song part by part. We wanted each to sound different from the previous, and the song to build to a quiet but desperate climax. Something I personally don’t hear a lot these days.

Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song?

I wrote this song when I was going through a period of feeling not sad, not happy, just dull. I had been a passionate person all my life, always with a goal that I’m chasing, or things that I am excited about. But I hit a point in 2017, when I just felt nothing. I “conceptually” knew that there were things I’m supposed to be looking forward to, working toward. But it was hard to feel any sort of feelings toward them.

Waste I hoped would convey this sort of quiet desperation. It’s mellow, and captures exactly how I felt.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes! July 13.

How was the recording and writing process?

I wrote this song in pieces. The words all came to me in the beginning, along with the verses and choruses. The long bridge initially was only piano, and then I had a dream where I actually heard the bridge currently in a bed of voices. I woke up the next day and immediately hit “record” on my iphone.

Production wise, I worked on this song with I Am Snow Angel, in her home studio. It was an extremely experimental process. When I described the vision to her, she immediately got what I was trying to convey. In my head, Waste lived in a ethereal but deeply existential trance space. It was a tune that sonically needs to elevate and intrigue, and builds up into a climax that isn’t necessarily loud, but feels like a minimalistic climax.

We experimented with sounds, instruments, and worked around with many versions until we landed on this final version. We were committed to having the song sound varied part to part, each 8 bar measure needed to introduce a new element.

I’m so happy that we got to work together.

How have Max Richter and Sia has influenced your writing?

Sia was one of the most influential modern day artists for me. As I mentioned, I only started songwriting a few years ago. She was one of the first artists I listened to, intently listened to. Her music and lyrics moved me so deeply, without much effort. Musically, I naturally gravitate to moody anthems. Her entire “Some People Have Real Problems” album is my favorite. The quiet, deeply resonating, indie anthems play in my head and influence the way I think and hear.

Max Richter is a composer I listened to since I was a child. His multi-layered but deeply melodic and emotional compositions guide me as I think about the arrangement and melodies of my music.

What role does NYC play in your writing?

It inspires me everyday. The thing about NYC is that it is such a densely populated city that literally changes block to block. Everything from the way the air smells that day, to what the person on the subway looked like after saying goodnight to a bad date, to the guy who takes my order at coffee shops, inspire me. But most importantly, the musicians and artists I’ve met in this city is what keeps me going, encourage me on the days I need it the most, and who give me the chance to be a part of their journeys. As a new artist, I find that it’s so important to find the right community of fellow artists. I feel like I’ve found that here, and I’m so lucky to have.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

Yes 🙂 I have one more single coming – Get Out later this year. There will also be a video for that one as well. Then I’m off making my next EP.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

Get Out will come out sometime this Fall.

Any plans to hit the road?

Definitely. Just not totally planned yet. Money is a huge limiter for me, but I’m working on that.

What else is happening next in Yify Zhang’s world?

I will be headed back into the studio to create an instrumental album. I feel like I’ve made a full circle – starting out as a short piece composer and then songwriting. Now, I get to combine what I’ve learned to go back to my roots so to speak. There are a few pieces that have been with me for almost 5-6 years, and others that were inspired out of my songwriting.

Check out “Waste” here – https://soundcloud.com/yifyzhang/waste-blog-preview/s-ZV4IA

Connect with Yify:

Instagram / Facebook / YouTube

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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