From the interview archive.
RnB artist Ye Ali has been making waves with his fresh rnb sound ever since he first started posting his music to Soundcloud and the Indiana native is showing no signs of slowing down. With new music and big collaborations on the way, VULKAN caught up with Ye Ali to get a sense of where his inspiration comes from and why it’s important for his music to come from a place of honesty.
How does it feel when you see comments from fans that say they find your music a much-needed and refreshing new sound?
I find the comments helpful and they make me feel like I’m doing something right. It’s always good to be in tune with the fans, new and loyal day 1 fans as well. I like to think that they know what they’re talking about.
You tweeted recently about how you were scouted and encouraged to sign with an executive back in 2015 when you released “Tingz” but ultimately he wanted to control your sound if you did. What did you learn from that experience?
I learned that you never know who’s watching. I was only on SoundCloud, so I knew they heard me off of that site, but I didn’t think a lot of executives listened to music themselves and really scouted talent. It gave me a vote of confidence. The sound he wanted me to stick with is a sound that’s pretty current with rappers now. He was ahead of the curve and so was I, but I didn’t want to do what I thought I wanted to do Lol. I realized later that I had some RnB ideas and wanted to be my generations Missy or Devante swing.
Looking back, would you have done any differently in that situation?
No, I don’t think I would have done it differently. Maybe I would have taken the deal and forced them to let me make what I wanted, but who knows how that would have gone. I’m not salty that I passed it up, I know there’s something better for me.
What do you think is the most surprising thing fans of yours may not know about you?
I don’t think that fans know I started my career as a videographer and photographer. It allowed me access to artists and venues that I would have had to buy a ticket for otherwise. I got close to the behind the scenes action and it helped me navigate my career later in life.
What does your main production/songwriting rig look like, and do you have any pieces of gear that you can’t produce without?
It depends what engineer or studio im working at. I usually need a midi keyboard and my laptop and a capable engineer. If I’m writing, all I need is a beat and some tinted lights in the studio and I’m ready. Some Chick-Fil-A & some weed helps set the tone as well.
Do you have any plans to experiment with some new genres this year? Which ones?
I plan on doing some Pop and Trap stuff this year. Same as I’ve done in the past only with bigger acts and bigger intentions. It’s hard to classify genres anymore, so I’m better off not classifying it either, only for the context of the article… Neo soul and live bank will be incorporated more into my music as each project goes on.
Where/when do you tend to do most of your writing?
I like to write in Indiana and Las Vegas for some reason. I am more alone in my thoughts than LA. Sometimes I go through spurts where I only write at the studio or only via voice memo on my phone. When I’m moody, I record and write different ways. Sometimes me writing is just me freestyling and editing certain lines.
Your music seems to come from a genuine place of honesty. Is that important to you, and why?
I’ve always been told my music sounds honest, simply because I’m a capable songwriter. I may take from my friends stories or romanticize and aspect of my past and make it a song. There are always elements of truth as well as fictitious hopeful moments we WANT to happen in the future. I always say, “I won’t make a song if I wouldn’t release it.” I find a use for almost everything I do, so I can never truly waste any music because it has a place in the universe…Always. It’s easier to make music when you’re truthful.
Who is one artist you think deserve some more spotlight these days and what makes them so good?
Hmm… that’s a good question. I think of myself at first then at the risk of sounding ungrateful… I would say Frvr Friday or this band name MEN I TRUST. Both artists are from Canada. Men I TRUST changed my life… I heard them when I was going through some low points in life and it made me feel so wanted… music is crazy because it has that effect on us. It was healing music and that band is awesome.
Who would you say is your biggest influence in life and music?
My dad is my biggest influence because he’s a writer and my biggest fan. That’s my answer forever… In music I think Missy Elliot, Static Major, Jamie Foxx, R Kelly and Jodeci are my biggest musical influences. I’d have to throw in Neon Indian, NSync, Panic at the Disco and Jon B in there as well.
If you could go anywhere and spend a month just working on your music, where do you go?
If I could go anywhere and record I think it would be Morocco. I’ve never been and I have origins there and in Spain, so it would be a powerful moment to make music there
Do you have any new collaborations upcoming that you can share with us? If not, who would you like to work with?
Some collabs on the songwriting and production side are: Chris Brown, Kid Ink, Madeintyo, Saweetie, Roy Woods. As far as my own music you can expect Ro James and Jesse Boykins III, each make an appearance on THJ2.
What was the first album you ever heard that you would say ignited your passion for music?
The first album that made me want to copy it and make my own music is Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite. it sounded so moody and sensual. I felt like his music spoke to me, even though I wasn’t too familiar with him prior to that. That album really made me want to eventually release an RnB project.
Many of your engineers and producers hail form here in Toronto, can you ever see yourself making a move to be here?
I can see myself staying in Toronto for months at a time. I love the atmosphere, so it’s like family. It just feels like it’s home for me… even though I’m from Indiana, Toronto adopted me in a way.
What’s your favourite way to spend some time off in Toronto?
My favorite thing to do in Toronto is honestly eat and record. The city is inspiring, so I always feel like I can make a full album each time I visit.