Art Installation No. 33 – YASSiN is my opportunity to introduce you to a brilliant Canadian artist. YASSiN started playing piano and writing songs at age 14 and says “music just made sense to me.” He’s definitely put in his “10,000 hours” as a musician and is a prolific songwriter plus music producer and creative director. Movie star good looks and talent have also garnered roles in a few movies and television programs.
While L.A. is still Kingpin for the music industry, Toronto is YASSiN’s beloved home. Usually splitting his time between the two cities, Covid’s debut on the medical charts and long-running follow up have him hunkering down at home in Hogtown. All this sheltering in place hang time inspired him to write the completely upbeat song, “Take My Time.” Watch the video above, crank the volume and I defy you to NOT get up and groove to it.
Once I heard “Take My Time” I searched my streaming app for more of YASSiN’s music. “No Flowers” is seductive soul. “Shame” has drama in spades – especially if you watch the video. “Good Bad Love” – back to that seduction again, this time on the dance floor. “She Was” is a ‘putting on a brave face’ ballad about people going in different directions. If you watch it below, you’ll get great insight into YASSiN’s journey. “Perfect Life” has a beautiful melody and lyrics that could totally crossover into country ballad territory.
Thanks to noticing a friend of mine, Adrian Brijbassi, in the “Perfect Life” video, I was able to connect with YASSiN and ask him a few questions. Brijbassi and YASSiN are cousins. I love small world stories, don’t you?
Anyway, here we go, a few questions and answers so you can get to know this bright man. And, I hope his music helps you take a new look at your covid time. Savour this time with whomever you are spending it with – especially if the person you are spending all your time with is YOU! Savour it All. And, look forward to all the joyful reunions we’ll be having. They are always worth the wait.
Q & A with Yassin
1. A friend in the music industry once told me, overnight success takes about 14 years. How long’s it been for you and how close are you to where you want to be? What does success look like to YASSiN?
YASSiN: I would have to agree with your friend. It’s hard to define a clear start of the journey, as some may consider it the first song they wrote; or maybe their first paycheque. I’ll say mine is the first time I stepped foot into a legit recording studio to produce my first song. That was when I was 17, just over 10 years ago. I’ll give the somewhat confusing answer that I am nowhere close to where I want to be, and also exactly where I want to be.
On one end, I’ve had grand goals and visions for my life since I was a kid, many of which haven’t come to fruition yet. Having said that, I realized a long time ago, that putting the highest importance on things so distant is a quick way to lose sight of what you already have in front of you. If I were to break down those grand plans in my head, it would simply be a matter of: Being able to create everything I want to create, which I do. Spread positive energy where I can, which this song has gifted me with. And to be happy, which I guess is what success looks like for me.
I’m happy to be able to do what I love, no matter the reach or standard idea of success in life. At my best, I have happiness and peace, and if I can buy my friends a couple of Porsches…That would be nice too.
2. You seem to be circumventing the music industry’s gatekeeper label-oriented system to connect with artists globally and make music and videos. You collaborate with singers for your own songwriting and to produce and provide creative direction. You’ve got skills that marry tech and art. What’s the breakthrough you need so we hear your music on radio stations everywhere? Or is that even your goal?
YASSiN: There are many ways to get on the radio these days. One being a radio promoter getting your music out there. Doesn’t seem like any of them returned my emails quite yet though – haha. The key right now for me, is reaching as many people as I can through the services at my disposal. I would love “Take My Time” to be on the radio, and I’m continuously trying to make that happen. The response to this song has blown my mind. Everyday I get a DM on Instagram and a handful of new comments about how happy it’s making someone, and I plan to keep marketing this one until that slows down.
3. When I listen to your music, I hear pop with the occasional gentle rap. Even a little country on “Will you marry me?” I can envision Adele singing your stuff. The singers you work with have huge vocal range – especially Sean Terrio. Will you always keep switching it up or can you see a more permanent partnership forming? And, is it hard not singing your own songs?
YASSiN: When it comes to genre, I definitely plan to keep switching it up. Growing up, I listened to everything from The Beatles to Jay Z, so I find it hard to stick to one thing, when often inspiration comes in many forms. When it comes to singers, sure I’d love to work with all sorts throughout my career. I’m still waiting on The Weeknd to return my calls.
I will say the singer I’ve been working with for the last three songs of mine, Sean Terrio; is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. We have been in quite the flow recently. Not only does he have this immense ability and talent, but he’s become a great friend of mine and I don’t see myself switching it up anytime soon. If it wasn’t for him, “Take My Time” wouldn’t sound as it does, and I plan on making many more songs with his voice on them.
As far as not singing, it’s not hard at all, no. When I started writing, all I wanted to do was write for other voices. I never had it in my mind to be an artist early on. Not only that, but I don’t have the greatest singing voice. I can sing well enough to show real vocalists, melodies and that’s about it. I often see the full picture of what a song should be, and what tone of voice should be on it.
4. You are Canadian but you have Indian heritage. You’ve named Canadian rapper Drake as an influence. Who are your other influences in the pop genre and will we ever hear anything of Indian influence come out in your music? Even Sia weaves a little into her music.
YASSiN: Technically I have West Indian heritage, Guyanese to be exact! I have tons of influences in pop. The Beatles and Billy Joel taught me how to write songs, but to list a few modern influences: The Weeknd, Jack Antanoff (of The Bleachers), Max Martin, Hans Zimmer (not pop, but brilliant). I could go on forever, but I’ll leave it at that. The Guyanese influence may very well come out in the music at some point. It’s not something I actively think about including as I produce, but if the song calls for it one day, then it shall.
5. And now for something completely different, what’s the one thing every visitor to Toronto should experience to get an understanding of the city you love so much? And, can you share a few of your favourite restaurants?
YASSiN: Two things, all the food, and all the music. The music scene here is on another level. The creatives in this city inspire me the most, and going to any given open mic night downtown you’ll find some talent that’s bound to blow you away.
As for favourite restaurants, one I miss going to the most since COVID is Tav’s Gnocchi Pizza Bar. Tav’s is this cozy little Italian restaurant that makes the best Gnocchi I’ve ever had. Then there’s Annabelle, which again is a tiny Italian spot where they make the pasta fresh every morning, this place can maybe hold like 10 people in it. I just love anywhere like that. One last one is 7 West Cafe. Their kitchen is open 24 hours, and I’ve spent many late night/early mornings having a poutine at 3.a.m. after a night out there. I miss it dearly.
So Why aren’t we hearing these brilliant songs on the radio?
I don’t know! But, please click on the videos I’ve posted. Give them a listen. Like them on YouTube. Follow YASSiN on Instagram. Share his stuff with your friends. Going viral would definitely get some record promoters attention.
Songwriters help us express our own feelings. They make audible art with their music and visual art with their videos. YASSiN is nailing it and I look forward to the day when I’m rolling down the highway and the radio announcer says, “and here’s another hit song from Canadian Superstar YASSiN” and “YASSiN essentials” will be a thing on your streaming service.
I’ll leave you with a song that could easily become the next wedding anthem. YASSiN’s success is taking time. But as he says, “Good things often do.”
Great stuff, Karen! I’m glad you connected with my talented cousin and spreading the word. I’m sure we’ll see him at the JUNO Awards before too long!
Right on Adrian. YASSiN was so open and thoughtful. He’s very humble. I will wait with great anticipation for the Junos and beyond. And, I’ll truly look forward to seeing him perform someday. That will be a joyous occasion. Until then, I’m grateful for this opportunity to meet him virtually and for the technology that let’s us enjoy his music NOW. Cheers Adrian. Hope to see you soon. With kindness, K