Over the last few years, London-based artists Yazmyn Hendrix has always looked to become more inventive and experimental with her music. Known for her stunning vocal range, she recently begun to produce music using just a loop pedal and in the process, created the stunning new single Be Me.
So with this track becoming such an interesting stand out on our radar right now, we thought we would get to know a little more about her and what she has been though over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
Actually the trumpet was the first instrument I fell in love with! I wanted to audition for choir but I went to the wrong room when I was about 8 years old. I felt like it would be impolite to leave, even though I didn’t want to play brass, so I stuck around and lined up to blow through a trumpet, which was the process. You either got a yes or no, depending on if you could make a note come out! I was the last one and I made this beautiful note, I shocked myself. The teacher, Dave, was excited about it so I took my letter home and begged my mum to let me start lessons. I’d just gone through 6 months of piano lessons (which I hated and even defaced the keyboard in one practice session where I got bored by myself!) so she was trepidatious, but I ended up playing the trumpet for 12 years. I played in jazz bands and orchestras, and went to Finland, Paris and Jamaica with Haringey Young Musicians. I also have a cassette tape with a trumpet in the ribbon tattooed on my foot as a dedication to my first love of music.
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
That’s such a good question. I think it’s really hard to pinpoint one thing, which has been a prominent influence. There are so many factors to consider; good music is a huge source of my inspiration, I love to go out and see or be a part of live music as much as I can. For the last few years I’ve seen live music and great musicians at least twice a week, sometimes almost every night. Seeing musicians play live and hearing new music are both important to my psyche, so they have a big effect on when I make my music. I’ve also met some great musicians and their stories and their views on life have helped inspire me. When I’m writing I often feel like I’m channelling though, letting something from my subconscious rise, and sometimes I’m conscious of it. This part of my writing couldn’t exist without the experiences I go through day-to-day and my philosophies about life, so they are very prominent inspiration too.
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
I was pretty eclectic growing up. I wanted to like the music everyone at school liked so I tried to expose myself to mainstream, chart music, but honestly I only found bits and pieces I really felt connected to! Some garage and RnB here and there, bashment and funky house a little later on. I’ve loved jazz my whole life, Ella Fitzgerald is to date one of my favourite singers, and I was playing the trumpet at that time too so classical music interested me as well as more instrumental jazz. When I was 15 I joined a Pentecostal church for about a year so I got really into gospel music, I loved the harmonies so much. I went through a kind of grungy phase too so I listened to a lot of 80s rock, ska and punk for a while. So a whole bunch of stuff!
When you wake up in the morning, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
I usually wake up and listen to gospel straight away because it puts me in a joyous and grateful mood. It’s a beautiful thing to wake up and feel grateful, and gospel music helps to make that the case for me. Either that, or I listen to affirmations with a serene meditation-type music underneath it.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
Ha! The list is endless I’m sure. I haven’t released a lot of songs that are about specific people but I write a lot, and I guess bits and pieces about people make their way in here and there to my songs, even if they’re not straight-up about one person. I do have a bit of a tradition that when someone in my family has a big birthday, I write a song about them. It’s always about their life and our relationship, so those are really personal and the people that they’re about, know the songs are about them.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
Another great question! I guess I would have to say singing my own songs at Ronnie Scott’s – downstairs, the real deal, with my loop station and a band. I was a guest of Rick Leon James when he did the late show there two nights in a row. Honestly a dream come true, I couldn’t quite believe it and I’m still thanking the universe! Other highlights have been opening the main stage of a very cool festival in Sicily, Pas De Trai, playing two stages at Pride, guesting at the Jazz Cafe, and meeting Adam, who’s a producer that I work with – we create so much together now and I’m so thankful for him being such a huge part of my musical life. We’ve done some music and videos together that I’m more proud of than anything else I’ve done.
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
For sure I would be doing something in the community. Before I started music full-time, I worked in schools with children with special educational needs, additional needs and challenging behaviour. I loved my job so much; it was intense but so rewarding and fun. The education system gets harder and harder to work in, but I’ve been thinking about music therapy for a long time. I think there will come a day where I study to be a music therapist, because it is utilising music in a brilliant way, facilitating needs and I’d say it is a noble profession. The more we learn about music therapy and what music can do for us, the further we can grow and help others to grow, which I think is a beautiful thing.
Yazmyn Hendrix’s latest single Be Me is available to stream and download now. Have a listen to it below.