We had the good fortune of connecting with YawnyBlew and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi YawnyBlew, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
The biggest key to success is making sure you are defining what it means to you. So often in creative industries and businesses, we model our ideas of success off the paths of others. For a long time I struggled with this, constantly comparing my journey and my success to other people’s journeys and successes. The moment I decided to define my own success, create my own goals and truly stick to my path is the moment that I began to actually feel successful. It is a habit because honestly it is something I have to work on daily. Social media makes it very easy to get caught up in what others are doing. Accountability helps a lot with that too, I always hold myself accountable for everything going on in my career. It is the only way you can truly learn and get better.
Things that help with this are journaling. I try to journal every morning. I also like keeping lists of not only the things that I need to do, but also the tasks that I’ve completed. Nothing is more motivating than being able to see that you are doing the work, especially on slower days or days when it is harder to be motivated.
Also, taking frequent breaks from social media. This is a habit I struggle with since a lot of my work is interacting online, but I try to take a day or two off a week or more if possible.
The last habit would be being kind to myself. There’s always so much work to do, and sometimes I feel like I am dropping the ball. I work hard to make sure that I am kind to myself on those days.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a singer/songwriter but only began releasing my own music through the pandemic. I had been songwriting for about 4 years professionally and was realizing that a lot of my creative ideas extended past the recording sessions. I wanted to do more creative director work and help with visuals and packaging but just did not have the experience or outlets to do so.
I also was realizing that a lot of the stories I wanted to tell and voices I wanted to showcase just weren’t as accessible as I’d hoped. Labels and managers and producers all seemed to want to keep recreating the same artists. I wanted to see a shift and was really struggling to find it.
Releasing my own music became an obvious remedy for me. I could be fully in charge of the idea and brand, I could showcase my own point of view and most importantly I could highlight artists that I admired.
Being a queer black artist navigating the urban music space has been a struggle. So much of hip-hop and R&B is rooted in culture that is inherently homophobic. On the other side, so much of queer music is only represented by white/white passing artists in pop/dance spaces. Finding a safe space and a community that embraces me has been super important and something I am still working on and cultivating for myself and artists like me.
To stand out, I try to focus on making dynamic and refreshing music that talks about love and identity in a real way. My objective is to attract genuine supporters and connect with people who value art that is honest and authentic.
I’ve been really blessed to connect with some exceptional artists who, like me, where just looking for a safe space to make cool music. Last year I did a remix series for my single “EvryDay Every Nite” where I got to showcase some amazing artists, the majority of which are black queer creatives like myself, over three remixes.
My single “driveslow” has become a bit of a signature song for me as well since I released it last summer. It’s about focusing on figuring out who you are on your own terms. It’s a universal message that appeals to everyone which is why I feel the record has been received so well.
Releasing music as an artist has made songwriting so much more fun and has allowed me to attract more diverse and unique artists that I don’t think would have found me if I had not taken the leap and started putting out my own songs.
Throughout it all I am being constantly reminded that the most important thing for me to do is be honest and define my own path.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ok, first up! I’d take them to one of my favorite taco places, Mezcalero DLTA, for dinner. They have to get the fried chicken tacos. Also, Mezcalero does a really good bourbon & ginger.
Of course a beach trip would be on the itinerary. I honestly change my favorite beach every month, but most recently i’ve been enjoying the Manhattan Beach area. The beach is beautiful, the houses are cool to look at, and also there’s a great pizza spot called Beach Pizza I discovered my last time there that tasted in NYC pizza.
I usually take everyone that visits to Motown Monday at The Short Stop in Echo Park. Also Drag Bingo is great at 33 Taps.
I really like walking my dog in Elysian Park and usually bring people there too. The view of Dodger Stadium and DTLA is really cool.
I frequent Little Tokyo. My favorite ramen spot is Hachioji Craft & Vegan Ramen so I would definitely take them there.
The rooftop at The Ace Hotel would also be on our list.
I also really enjoy Karaoke at The Brass Monkey.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am really lucky to have a circle of friends and collaborators here in Los Angeles that i’ve met over the last 5 years. My partner Juss Thrasher has been an immense support as my creative director and photographer; sometimes even assisting me with management .
My producer and brother Sean Hamilton has taught me so much about the music industry and the art of making a great song. My co-writers and brothers Chris Jackson and Jason ACEXXI Adams have also been instrumental in my journey and growth as an artist. I’ve also had the pleasure of working under the likes of Rodney Jerkins, Harold Lilly and many others who have helped teach me and presented me with opportunities to advance my career.
I owe a lot to podcasts like “And The Writer Is” and “Don’t @ Me” for giving some of my favorite creatives a platform to tell their stories. There is no easier way to define your own success than by listening to the stories of others. You realize everyone’s road is completely different and special.
I also read “The Alchemist” once a year and most recently start “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” which has been really helpful.