The words for “Perles” (“Pearls”), for instance, were written at the Petite-Vallée song festival with lyricist Marc Chabot and singer-songwriter Daniel Boucher. Yao later sent the lyric to his songwriter-producer associate with a sketch of the music he saw for it, and Sonny worked his magic.
Why did the album end up being called Perles et Paraboles? “I was thinking of something valuable, each song being a unique pearl having and telling its own story. My songs are inspired by what I see around me, by human interactions, and by my Generation Y experience as well.” Génésis 2.0’s “Génération sacrifiée” is a case in point. It tells the story of a young man who gets his university degree during the 2008-09 global economic crisis, only to realize that the employment he had been promised was not necessarily going to materialize.
“I always carry a notebook and my iPhone with me so I can jot down song ideas. I never stop writing.”
While he finds the Quebec market hard to penetrate with his slam/blues/jazz/disco style, Yao is looking forward to an international career, beginning with the French market. After testing the waters and making initial contacts at the last MIDEM conference, he spent a month Paris early this year to sign a deal with a music promotion agency and discuss distribution. Plans are calling for a release in April 2014, a busy month for the artist with a concert at Cabaret du Mile-End on the 11th as part of the “Vue sur la relève” festival, and with the ANIM (Association Nationale de l’Industrie Musicale) “Rencontres qui Chantent,” a project that brought him to “Contact Ouest” in Victoria, B.C. last year.
Yao has kept quite busy since the release of his new album, with appearances at FrancoFête en Acadie in Dieppe, N.B., Contact Ontarois in Ottawa, and the Petit Champlain Theatre in Quebec City.
How does he deal with songwriting and career management simultaneously? “I always say it’s like an athlete training all year long,” says Yao. “I always carry a notebook and my iPhone with me so I can jot down song ideas. I never stop writing. I’m very introspective.”
Yao was recently invited to re-connect with his former partner FLO for a new venture, and to contribute to a Le R rap project, none of which is likely to faze this highly organized artist, whose current reading material includes a book of poetry and one on the music industry.
And, as if was not busy enough, Yao – who likes to work on stage with experienced musicians like the violin player Olivier Philippe-Auguste – is now teaching himself the guitar. “Music is my full-time job. I am disciplined. You’ll find me at my computer screen at 8:30 in the morning,” the 26-year-old musician with big energy and large dreams confirms. Find more at www.yaomusique.com.