yuki on his debut album, being a DIY artist, and jimi hendrix
Chloe Rose talks with Yuki about his debut album Be Free, out today.
HS: How has your 2020 been so far and how has COVID-19 impacted your creativity?
Yuki: It started out feeling strange, creating in quarantine. It felt very forced, but while wrapping up the album, I’ve been much more motivated to create new ideas! As for 2020, it’s been super crazy. I went into the year with a lot I wanted to do and places I wanted to go and
now it seems that’s all on hold— so, we’ll see (laughs).
HS: How has working with Jaden Smith help kickstart your career as an artist?
Yuki: I had already made music as a solo artist before, more casually, but I think Jaden really
helped inspire me to build and to not be afraid to try any idea no matter how crazy others
think it is. Jaden’s really good at painting a clear picture with his music and I really
HS: Your debut album is called Be Free— what does it [the album] mean to you?
Yuki: The album means so much. It’s a compilation of ups and downs, musical inspirations, and memories gathered over nearly two years. It’s the first time I’ve felt this confident in my
own work and it’s definitely the hardest I’ve ever worked on anything.
HS: Why did you choose to release Be Free in such a chaotic time in the world?
Y: Because, like the world now, Be Free is chaotic too; it’s all over the place, yet very
cohesive. I think if people like the album, there’s more time to sit with it and really listen
to it, rather than have it playing in the background. Overall, I don’t mind how anyone
listens to it, but I think this is a time where I can be represented well.
HS: My favorite songs off of Be Free were “Drama Queen” and “Darling.” What’s the story behind those songs?
Yuki: “Be Free,” to mem is like my “I’m back, sit down” song. It’s vulnerable but the most
confident I’ve been on a song, production-wise and vocally. It features verses from all my
close music friends and is the most sonically packed song on the album. “Drama Queen”
is a special song because I initially wrote it about myself. I always overthink everything and drive myself insane, so I wanted to get out my feelings about that. Then, after a relationship, the song ended up becoming more applicable to that situation. I’ve always wanted to make a super relatable song, and this one happened so naturally.
“Darling” was inspired by ‘80s JPOP/soul songs, and I had been struggling to make an outro for Be Free that wasn’t pretentious or sappy. With “Darling,” it started with just the instrumental looped for the whole song and me rapping a bunch of different verses. To me, “Darling” is the light at the end of the tunnel; the lyrics aren’t super conscious or important, it’s more focused on the feeling it gives you, like a deep breath in and out after something
stressful, knowing that it’s all going to be okay.
HS: You bring such a new and professional sound to the DIY scene. Do you ever find officials in the music business not taking you as seriously because the music is DIY, even if it sounds just as professional as if it were recorded in a studio?
Yuki: I haven’t come across that personally, but I know that a lot of independent artists do get
that flack, regardless of the quality. I want Be Free to be an example that you don’t need
a massive budget, label backing, or super expensive gear to stand up with professional
HS: What albums/songs made you go into the music industry?
Yuki: I can’t pin one song or album for the music industry itself, but as a whole probably Jimi
Hendrix’s discography. When I was a kid, he was like the coolest person to me; he made
me want to learn guitar and innovate with my own music. Also, like many others, Tyler,
The Creator is a big voice for youth culture; his “be yourself no matter what” attitude was
huge for me growing up.
HS: Which artists most influence your music?
Yuki: It’s hard again to pick because it’s constantly changing, but as of right now Vampire
Weekend, Hiatus Kaiyote, A$AP Rocky, and Thorington.
HS: If people are just hearing about you now by this interview, what would you want their first
impression of you to be?
Yuki: I can’t say that I’m the best artist, or that my music is the best thing you will ever hear,
but I always strive to always be the hardest worker in the room. I think with Be Free you can
definitely hear the effort. I would say this album is the most “me” sounding music that I’ve ever made, and I hope my love for music and creating is felt. ✰
Chloe Rose is a sixteen-year-old writer and filmmaker living in New York. Chloe has been creating art for as long as she can remember; she still has the books made out of computer paper, staples, and crayons that she made when she was seven years old to prove it. She loves lemon Pellegrino, flowers, the beach, and music. You can find her in the poetry aisle of her favorite bookstore.