When you listen to Filipino-American recording artist Yeek’s new album, “Valencia,” or even his previous efforts, “Sebastian” and “IDK Where,” one’s first impression might be chill rhythm and blues with a dash of hip-hop. Except Yeek will surprise you with a song – still in the same time signature – but with riffs and drums that harken back to his punk and hardcore days or alternative music. Or even ’70s pop.
Yeek’s music has been best described as genre-less and he doesn’t mind the tag. “For me, it’s all about roots,” says the Los Angeles-based musician.
And roots are important.
With his 2021 effort that he will release on vinyl in a few months’ time, it is also a means to connect with an audiophile audience as well as those from his motherland. “My last trip to Manila was in 2019 and it was to visit relatives and not to perform. Hopefully, when this pandemic is over, I can go there to the Philippines to perform.”
Reaching out to his motherland and doing this interview with ABS-CBN News is a way of reconnecting with the network as the late Henry Halasan, one of the main anchors of “The World Tonight” when it premiered in 1962 on the channel and who also served as a former news director, is his grandfather.
“I was always learning something from him,” said Yeek of Halasan, who passed away in 2013. “His having an opportunity to interview people like Muhammad Ali always intrigued me.”
With regards to his influences and punk and hardcore band days, Yeek said he either consciously pulls bits and pieces from his inspirations and draws from his emotions and feelings. “I was exposed to a lot of music so there are moments when I chose to express my emotions through them.”
The result is a music style that is steadily gaining popularity for its being genre-less.
“I love the mystery and anonymity of being genre-less,” enthused Yeek. “I don’t mind people labeling my music and label it on their own way. As much as I am a creator, I don’t mind because it is what they hear. As a listener, I am the same – music reminds me of this and that. Because I have an interpretation of music, it allows me to understand the music I am listening to more and build a relationship. I don’t want to take that away from the listener. Genre-less is a genre I like.”
And “Valencia” and its 10 songs of relationship woes and roots and family is something that Yeek believes will resonate with many people — Filipinos included.
The album features production from his cousin, Kevin Halasan, and mixing from Jeff Ellis, who previously worked with R&B artist Frank Ocean, Prince protégé Snoh Aalegra, and rising Mexican-American singer-songwriter Omar Apollo. Yeek’s vocals are stronger and more confident as opposed to his previous efforts, borne after a year of touring in the United States and Europe (pre-COVID), and simply a product of honing his craft.
The first single is the title track that comes with a surreal neon-lit visual. Other tracks to give a listen include “Lumbago” that is an ode to Yeek’s younger and sickly days, “Overthinking” which is about the pressures of growing up, and “3,000 Miles (Baby Baby)” that sings of love across the miles.
“It’s my best work to date,” sums up Yeek.
“My music reaching the Philippines is very exciting to me. That is where my family and roots are from. I want to represent a new demographic of Filipinos and Americans who can show the world what they can do.”
Yeek hopes to have records of “Valencia” hit the Philippines as soon as possible. Filipinos can check out his music on Spotify and iTunes.
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