Interview by Allison Lapinski
Yeek is the name for Sebastian Carandang’s minimalist fusion of R&B, pop, and trap-inspired music. The New Jersey native spent his early years in Florida and California, leading to his first album, Love Slacker in 2015. Love Slacker and his sophomore album, Sebastian, are packed with moments of hesitation, reassurance, and crisp and groovy production styles. Yeek embodies the definition of DIY, which is typically associated with lo-fi indie circles. However, this is not always the case. Yeek challenges those standards by creating beats and melodies that sound and feel like professional-grade studio hits.
Another mark of Yeek’s mastery is his ability to collaborate through his music and digital presence. His new album, Valencia, features tracks with Simon Sea, Rolls Rome, and Dotha. Through these collabs, Yeek expands his talents and allows room for hip-hop artists to equally contribute. Simply put, Valencia signals a new chapter for Yeek while still paying homage to his work thus far. The soulful vibe of “Back N Forth” contrasted by the electronic elements of “Overthinking” show Yeek’s ability to blend into virtually any genre. Some music critics are cautious of the new shift to genreless music, but Yeek proves there is no absence of genre. Instead, the mixing and melting of musical styles gives everything new meaning; a constant theme throughout Valencia.
WLUW spoke with Yeek about the new album, his Valencia film release, and tips for young creators during COVID-19:
WLUW: What was your time like timeline looking like for Valencia? Did you plan on recording it during the pandemic?
Yeek: Actually only one song was recorded during the pandemic. I recorded most of it in 2019. And then towards the end of 2020, I spent a lot of time focusing on the visual portion. So it was just another half of like completing the project, you know?
WLUW: Who are some of your inspirations for the production end of things?
Yeek: When we get asked this question, I usually don’t really know the answer, cause, it’s kinda based on the music I was listening to at the time. And for me I’m bad at pinpointing exactly what I was listening to. But I made a little playlist for myself at one point that helped me remember, but I was listening to a lot of The Beatles early on, and then I was listening to a lot of electronic like acid house, drum and bass music and getting inspired by the sense that I heard in those genres. And then the rest of it. I really just got inspired by RnB music.
WLUW: I noticed that in all three of your albums, you have 10 songs per album, and I was wondering what your decision process looks like when you’re putting it all together and deciding what stays and what goes?
Yeek: What I do is build a whole archive of music, you know, over 10 songs, it could be like 20. And it’s kinda like putting puzzle pieces together, when deciding what tells the best story. Then also considering what is going to sonically make sense next to each other in my head. I like to think of an album as one whole song. And so when I put the album together, it’s kinda like I’m building one experience while at the same time trying to maintain each song is able to be good on its own too.
WLUW: Do you ever find yourself revisiting like old songs and realizing it could actually fit on a newer album?
Yeek: I think actually that might’ve been the case for a few of the songs. I just don’t remember which ones, I think maybe the first one, the “Lumbago” came from an earlier project. A lot of my music stems from stuff I created years ago and then I just started building on them. I would look through all my old stuff and then start building on it and making it new.
WLUW: So obviously things have changed since your last album, Sebastian. How do you feel about your music being on platforms like Tik Tok?
Yeek: I think it’s okay. The music will reach where it needs to reach, so where it ends up being is just a real reflection of the impact that has. And it just gives me answers to my own music maybe. I think it’s interesting to see where it ends up living. And for me it’s a learning process. I don’t feel like I have any true expectations for social media. I try not to put too much pressure on myself.
WLUW: Do you associate sensory or visual things when you’re making music and when you’re creating a song?
Yeek: Yeah. I definitely think one thing I’m learning is that it’s hard. When I do make music I am already thinking of something visual and everything, like what the music video is going to look like. Sometimes it’ll inspire me too. I kind of want to write a movie, it’s that sort of idea. One thing that I’m learning also is not to be married to the visual that gets painted as I’m making the music. Because, when I do end up making the video, it’s completely different. So it may not be what was in my head, but it’s also still amazing. It’s usually half and half, it is like what was in my head, but it’s like, it turns to something else. The images that are like being painted in my head, they’re very vivid. And the visual part also inspires me to finish the song.
WLUW: How are you best able to communicate with the director and people that you work with?
Yeek: I think the best way to communicate is to build a little mood board together with them. And it’s very collaborative when working with a director. What I learned is that unless I had the actual money to do exactly what was in my head, that working with other people is very involved. I think the best way to communicate is to share some images, share some references, maybe some movie scene references. And the thing is when you go back and forth, they might have a completely different perspective too. And then translate something back to you and be like, Oh, this is what I see based on what you’ve shown me. And it’s really cool.
WLUW: And then you really get to see it come to life as well. What was it like for you to do the drive-in experience that I saw on your Instagram?
Yeek: Ironically, it was my first time at a drive-in and it was my own. I’ve been wanting to go all my life, and just never got a chance, but it was really good. I feel like it was something we made to navigate around the situation of the pandemic, you know, obviously, and making it safe. But it ended up being something that I feel like would have just been good to experience in general. Even if it wasn’t a pandemic a lot of it was very interactive too, despite the given circumstance. They gave out like popcorn, hand sanitizer and had all Valencia stuff printed on it. Pretty cool.
WLUW: Once you can tour again, where’s your number one spot that you want to perform at?
Yeek: Probably Miami and New York and LA, Atlanta too. Several places really, but that’s just America. I love Chicago as well. Last time we played was a really good experience. We played Lollapalooza and then we played at Schubas.
WLUW: Do you have any advice for young people who are self- producing right now and trying to make it work during the pandemic?
Yeek: I would say keep utilizing the time that we have right now. And I think it’s a good time to utilize this period of being stagnant for development. Also use your imagination. If you’re bored, use that boredom to fuel your imagination and put it into your production. Something that helped me when I was producing is imagination and imagining made up songs in my head. And I think when making music, just to channel that. It makes it fun instead of making it a ploy to be like, ‘Oh, this is going to be a hit or this is going to be like the biggest song ever.’ I think that will cloud you from making it a good piece of production or song or whatever it is you’re trying to make. And I think as long as you have fun, and you tap into your creativity and imagination, then you’re on the right track.
Valencia is now available on all platforms.