RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW SEATTLE ARTIST YOYO NAGASE
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
First of all, thanks so much for having me! My journey into the music industry hasn’t always been very intuitive. Even now, it is rare for me to go through a day without a little self-doubt. However, I absolutely love the process of making music, and I think it will be very hard for me to get away from it for some time.
My favorite moment has always been that last session in the studio where the entire song comes together, and everything finally fits together. I love that sense of relief and satisfaction that all the work has led to something beautiful.
The feeling of releasing music is also a reminder of why I am in this industry. For instance, when my first song “City Lights” came out, I could not stop smiling. It seemed fake that my song was on Spotify, and that people around the world could listen to my music. To see my name on that platform is a moment I will never forget.
Lastly, the support system around me can’t be appreciated enough. It starts with my family, especially my brother who really is the best manager out there. Axel Hejlsberg, my incredible producer, has truly taken my music to the next level and I am so thankful for that. And lastly, all my friends in the music industry! It’s been great being able to write and bounce ideas off everyone, and those experiences have greatly defined my music in large ways.
Introduce us to your musical history!
My name is Yoyo Nagase, and I am a Japanese & Taiwanese American singer-songwriter! I started music at a young age (playing the piano and the violin), but I never really fell in love with it. I quit for a big chunk of my childhood to play soccer and baseball instead. In high school, I decided to join A Capella on a whim, However, even after high school, music became an afterthought.
It was only during the pandemic when I found a lot of time on my hands, did I start revisiting my music career. I began to really enjoy writing music, and I would often spend all night working on lyrics or playing around in Logic. After a couple of months of experimenting, I decided to release my first song “City Lights”.
Afterward, I reached out to legendary Seattle producer Jake Crocker and released “rocket ship” and “sunrise”. I learned an incredible amount with Jake, especially what it’s like to work in the music industry. At that point, he really was my first contact in this new world.
As I moved back to the East coast, Jake introduced me to my current producer Axel Hejlsberg. We have since released “daydreaming” (prod. by Adenal), “rewind”, and “i don’t care.” with Pluto koi, a kid named rufus, and pretty havoc. All my songs have been mastered by Matthew Wolk!
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
Haha, that’s a great question. Honestly, I haven’t quite developed a hatred for any question yet, but maybe get back to me in a couple of years!
We set up RGM USA and many other countries in the world to share music with America and the UK, good idea?
Yeah, that is a great idea! Thank you so much for sharing music and inspiring people.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
No, but I’m all ears!
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
Yes – an extra green screen. I don’t know why, but I have 7 now. I just love editing videos haha.
What useless party trick do you have?
I can beat people at chess blindfolded.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
I had a release party for “daydreaming”, and it was so fun when my friends new all the words and we were all singing it together!
What was the worst experience on stage?
In one of my first A Capella concerts, we were on stage singing to a crowded fundraising party. And unfortunately, everyone was talking, and no one was paying attention to us or could even hear us. It definitely was a tough experience.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
I was part of a professional frisbee team for three weeks!
If you had to describe your music to an alien, how would you describe it?
Out of this world.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
A big part of what I hope to do with my music inspires other Asian artists. It has been an incredible experience working with Filipino indie pop artist Pluto Koi, Singaporean punk artist Pretty Havoc., and Malaysian bedroom pop artist A Kid Named Rufus on my newest song “i don’t care.”. I hope that other Asian artists listen to our music, and leave inspired in some way!
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
Honestly, haha you might have to get back to me on that one. I don’t have too much to complain about right now.
What’s your favorite song to play live and why?
Definitely “daydreaming”! I think it is my most high-energy and catchy song, and I love it when the chorus hits. I also think that the lyrics resonate with a lot of people.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it?
Yeah! As I discussed earlier, I just released a song called “I don’t care.” with Pluto Koi, a kid named Rufus, and pretty havoc. The origin of this song started almost a year ago when I was walking through campus. I was feeling a little bit stressed at the time with the amount of work I had to do, so I started listening to some beach pop-type songs. The songs really inspired me, so I started humming my own melody, and that is how the song started!
After that, I felt that the song needed to feature a collection of artists that could really provide their unique perspectives. I think we ended up with a perfect mix of genres, and I am so happy with how the song came out.
Talk me through the thought process of the single.
The process of working together turned out to be quite the challenge as all five of us had different schedules and spanned different time zones. There was a point when Pluto Koi and Pretty Havoc. were on the West coast, Rufus and I were on the East coast, and Axel was in Denmark. Finding time to be able to work together turned out to be a very challenging process.
What was the recording process like?
One interesting story in the recording process was how the chorus lyrics came to be. After that campus walk, I brought the melody to Axel, and we started building the backing track. I began to sing the original demos with the lyrics only being “la” and “i don’t care.”, with the full intention of changing the words. Axel then had the idea of just keeping it the way that it was because it matched the laid-back energy of the song, and that is how it came to be!
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
I think that the biggest learning curve in music for me has always been marketing. I love making music, and I love the special moments in the studio, but marketing has been a big mystery for me. I think that something that has really helped me is making the music promotion process fun! In that way, even if my content doesn’t do well, at least I enjoyed making it.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
That’s a great question! I don’t think so – we had been working on the song for 7 months, and there were so many different parts of the song that went through many iterations until we made sure it was perfect. For example, we went through nearly four or five different sounds for the intro from a whistle to a xylophone, to a saxophone, and finally settling back to the original trumpet sound. I think that an intentional choice was made for nearly every second of the song, and I am glad about how it turned out.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
Axel and I have a couple of projects in the making right now, and I am excited to move back to New York and finish them. I hope that this year will be a big year for me, but either way, I know that I will enjoy it.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?