As part of our on-going commitment to helping undiscovered musical and video talent get exposed world-wide, sleepingbagstudios will post interviews regularly with in-depth Q&A’s and pass them on to YOU the music lovers. Take some time and read about a great artist you might not have ever heard of before – this week it’s hip-hop artist Tey Yaniis! Talented artist – he understands the importance of lyrics in today’s music and takes his craft seriously…..but not too seriously!
We got to know Tey Yaniis through an exclusive e-mail interview with sleepingbagstudios. Read on to learn more about Tey Yaniis, his upcoming EP’s, who he works with and why he does what he does – there’s links to more awesome Tey Yaniis info at the end of the interview as well as information on how YOU can have your band interviewed and promoted through us here at sleepingbagstudios!
Interview with Tey Yaniis
SBS: What drives you to write? Is there an overall goal?
Tey: Just the fact that I can create a record that’ll make some kind of impact on our world’s outlook you know. Sometimes you just have to go in and create. I write based on my experiences first and hopefully people will grab hold from there. The overall goal is to uplift the spirit and soothe the soul with the music. I want people to meditate or find the good in my music and see the good in themselves as well.
SBS: In your bio – you mention that modern day music has an “inability to express lyrics that obtain substance” – why do you think that music has gotten away from that? Isn’t that something people would want?
Tey: Honestly speaking I have no clue! Really music still has somewhat of substance in it but nowadays you have to really dig for it you know? Music that is pushed to what I call the naked ear which means that there are people who don’t heavily indulge in the music, they just listen to whatever is forced at them or they listen to whatever is hyped up – nothing but a good time, bad habits, or whatever. I honestly feel that there is room for every type of music; I just would like to see a balance between music with substance and party/good time type of records you know.
SBS: I also couldn’t help but notice many of your listed influences – Cab Calloway, Otis Redding, The Fugees + more….well, they’re either passed on or not making music anymore. Certainly there’s some representative hip-hop out there that you could point to? Jurassic 5? The Roots? Blackstar was in your list, but they’re largely inactive as a group….
Tey: Well man I can honestly say that I’m kinda stuck in the old ways of music. I feel that we as a music community hype up classics so much that we actually forget how to pay homage to the people who have paved the way for us. With that being said I don’t feel that we should recreate old tunes that are considered classic but I feel that there is a lack of passion for music from a musical stand point. Even though my influences are inactive I still believe in their music and still listen to it like it was released yesterday. The funny part is some of my friends will be like – WHO IS THAT!?! HAHAHAH!!!
SBS: If modern day music is somewhat broken or contrived – whereabouts in the musical timeline do you figure it all went wrong?
Tey: When materialism is more recognized when it comes to music than the music and that’s all I’m going to say because of politics LOL!
SBS: Your influences all have a similar feel and vibe – definitely makes sense when a person hears your music, like a single like “Coffee Brown” – but c’mon man….there’s more to you than that – we want to know what guilty pleasure songs you’re singing when no one else is around to hear….
Tey: Anything by Lady Gaga hahahahaha! No, I’m serious her music is intense!
SBS: A Tribe Called Quest – again from your list of influences (Rightly so for any hip-hop artist! Respect!) – Q-Tip and other members have gone on to guest star on many different projects other than hip-hop. One that always comes to mind for me is when Q-Tip popped up on R.E.M.’s album “Around the Sun.” While they had worked with KRS-ONE in the past and it was maybe a little more expected of them, it’s always interesting being a guest star in a strange spot like Q-Tip was there. But it fit, and it was awesome. Ha! Long-winded story! I’ll get to the point – where do you see yourself fitting into someone else’s song? What would you like to try/would you like to try that kind of thing at all?
Tey: Yes if the opportunity came I would love to get with an alternative, contemporary, band to expand my message of music. That’ll be so dope if I could do that – we are def open to different forms of music genres.
SBS: Do you feel that the internet represents the best possible way for a new artist to breakthrough in today’s world?
Tey: Yes and no. I know that’s sounds weird but right now the internet is oversaturated with people trying to fit through one door. One thing I can say about the internet, is that because it’s so accessible for up and coming artist like myself the consistency is key – you honestly have to be doing something almost every day to keep people’s attention. One thing that I love about the internet is the reach. It’s made the world a little smaller so to say. I’ve been able to contact connections from anywhere from AFRICA TO UNITED KINGDOM by just logging on – that’s how we connected for this interview LOL!
SBS: Is a record label behind you something you necessarily need to succeed out there today?
Tey: Well people have to understand that a label is nothing but an investor that wants a return on their investment. A lot of the work that it takes to get you and your team to the public is on your own work ethic. So instead of spending another person’s dollar I look at it like sacrificing a few dollars and putting them in the right places will help me achieve what I want without being in debt to a label. I believe in standing on my own two feet and creating my own brand. Look at it like this if you can’t invest in yourself why should someone else invest in you?
SBS: Explain your live game. How do you attack that mic?
Tey: I love live music. My genre of choice is neo-soul/hip-hop chill vibes so that’s most-def an element that I will have at my live shows. I like for my shows to be an experience instead of a performance you know. For booking contact firstname.lastname@example.org
SBS: Straight up – who was the first person to confirm your rhymes were solid? Mom doesn’t count.
Tey: Shout-out to my homies Big John and Big Dent – they were the ones who told me I had something special, they were like my big homies growing up so hearing it from them really made me wanna push harder and keep the level of lyricism alive.
SBS: How do you feel that music in general unites people?
Tey: Well like I said substance can bring unity even if it’s not conscious. Just depending on what the topic is of the record but everyone has a love for music or a passion for music so when they find a common ground it most-def unites them in some form or fashion.
SBS: Can it be an equal force in dividing people?
Tey: Yeah I believe so….
SBS: Now how about your music Tey – is it going to unify or divide? How do you see your music perceived on a worldwide level by a first time listener?
Tey: My music is here to unite bring peace, love and soul back to our communities, relationships and friendships. That’s my purpose for doing music – to bring change, to bring balance – even though music is my business I just want to make sure that if a person spends their hard earned money coming to see my gigs or listen to my records that I try to give them some kind of…insight to soul and a positive outlook on life that entertains them as well.
SBS: What or who is the influence behind you hit single “Coffee Brown?”
Tey: Well I wrote that letter for my special someone you know? But from a world standpoint I did the record because a lot of women feel that songs nowadays disrespect and show women in the wrong light by men. So as a man I feel like I stepped up to the plate and said “hey why don’t I create a record that’ll express a respectful man’s feeling towards women?” And response has been great so far, so I can’t complain.
SBS: The video itself is pretty ballin’ – tell us about how long it took to put together and a little about why you’re working with producer Kreatev?
Tey: Kreatev is dope man he reminds me of j-dilla reborn you feel me! The record didn’t take very long to put together at all. I love working with Kreatev because his name speaks for itself! HE’S KREATEV!!! His production makes my mind expand to bring out that sound I want. So big ups to KREATEV!!
SBS: Your instrument background is more than impressive – pieces like the violin, cello and trumpet. Again, makes sense with your list of influences – but tell me about your role in your actual music today beyond the rhymes – how do those beats come to life?
Tey: Well I haven’t played in a while but I know my instruments when I hear them so when I’m working with a producer I actually try to bring my input in when we go to create records. Plus I’ll be picking music back up soon. I honestly miss playing.
SBS: What is the immediate future looking like for Tey Yaniis? Where can the fans see you and how can they reach you?
Tey: Well follow me on twitter @teyyaniis that’s where you can keep up with everything that I’m doing!
SBS: What’s your accessibility with your fans? Is it important to keep them close or do you keep people at a distance?
Tey: Well I like to let my fans know what’s going on for sure. I want people to connect with me so I stay very active on social media for sure.
SBS: Okay – I’m a lead singer myself, and I can honestly remember about half my songs at any given time…how do you remember every word that you need to when it comes time to perform a full show?
Tey: Practice makes perfect my good man! Lol!
SBS: Fair enough! How’s your freestyle? You hold your mic proud against other MC’s?
Tey: Um yeah I haven’t free-styled in a while man – that was in my younger days, now we on to bigger and better things! Lol!
SBS: Any insights you can give us into the two EP’s you have coming up?
Tey: Well yes sir! Well the first EP that I’m working on is called “The Soul Jones” which will have production from Damani Rhodes, Buddy Bangz of Rhythm Section ENT., Kahiel Valenti, Kreatev, and The Drumaddictz. It will be an experience to remember man I’m telling you! If you love good neo-soul with a mixture of hip-hop you will dig this joint to the fullest. My second EP will probably be out next fall but that’ll be second collection of “the soul jones”
SBS: Lastly Tey – with it being election year in the USA and all this Romney and Obama talk about budget surpluses and taxation, well, I can’t help but ask…….what was the most influential piece of art that you saw or experienced in your childhood that manifests itself in both you and your artwork today? Did anything ever resonate that hard within you? Sorry, just couldn’t ask a political question for real…
Tey: Music is art to me man and just seeing the music evolve to what it is today really kept my spirits going to continue to pursue music. Just knowing how powerful words and music can be – that’s a big reason I choose music as my path.
SBS: Anything you want to say directly to your fans Tey? The floor is yours my friend…..
Tey: Thank you to everyone who has supported me from day one! My EP “the soul jones” will be done and out there for grabs soon!! Wanna give shout-outs to Young Dizzy, Damani Rhodes, Buddy Bangz, Kreatev, Kahiel Valenti, Cal-E, M.I.C, My kids, Taleah and Taylor – daddy loves you guys! And much love to sleepingbagstudios!
For more information on Tey Yaniis – check these sweet links out!