Polaroid Series #4: Yumi is Owning Her Voice in Pop

The singer/songwriter dishes on owning her pop-influence and using music to heal.

Yumi, the model/songwriter/body positive activist is shaking sh*t up. From Youtube covers to her latest EP, Ego Boost, the multi-hyphen artist is owning the pop genre. We caught up with her to talk women in the music industry, being vulnerable, and body positivity.

Settle the Score Crop Top

Tell us a little about Ego Boost and how it all came together.

My love life is pretty minimal at the moment so I was taking inspiration from my friends. Ego Boost actually stemmed from my best friend’s toxic relationship. I really felt like I was going through it with her and I was running low on inspiration at the time, so I felt like I was carrying part of that emotion and I wanted to put it out in music. Her guy was involved with still his ex-girlfriend and she said she felt like she was an ego boost for when she’s not around. A lot of the songs sound like they’re from relationships, but a lot of them are from ended friendships or faith-related. It’s a mixture of things.

What are you working on for the new year?

I’m shifting my genre a little bit. Sirens was pretty pop. I’m influenced by Kaytranada, Alina Baraz, Anderson Paak, and these legendary people. But at the same time, I still love pop and when I write, that’s what comes out. Production-wise, I think I’m going more pop, but I think that we’ll still hear elements of the sound that I’m inspired by and have been inspired by from a young age.

“I was writing songs that could help me heal.”

When did you first start singing and writing your own music?

I started singing around 6 or 7, not seriously. I started writing around maybe 15 or 16. I was just writing on the ukulele. I was stuck in the Jason Mraz genre, which I didn’t love at the time. I started writing on the piano in my own method.

What inspired you to write at 15?

I was doing a lot of Youtube covers–I posted a lot on Youtube. This producer in Nashville reached out to me and she said she wanted to work on songwriting with me. We did a few Skype sessions and I was going through a breakup at the time. I was telling her about this breakup and we were writing together and piecing together words. I learned to write from her. It kind of naturally progressed from Youtube.

What was that like for you going from doing youtube covers to presenting your own work?

I think that it’s equally scary because when you’re doing a cover of someone else’s work, they’re going to hold you to a specific standard of a version of the song that they like. With your own art, it’s a piece of your heart that you’re putting out into the world. I never wanted to be a cover artist so it was a good way of me practicing to be in front of the camera. I think I needed that. Being my own artist is what I’ve always dreamed of.

What’s your favorite part of being your own artist?

For some of the songs on the EP, it was actually therapy. I go to therapy and there were certain things I could never work out with a therapist. I wrote the song Careless about my best friend that ghosted me after high school and I think I was a little bit in love with him. I never got closure and he is one of those people that would do something really messed up and be like, “I don’t understand why you’re upset”. I’m very emotional and sometimes I can be very dramatic. I held onto it for so long. I was writing songs that could help me heal. One day, I wrote the song in like 15 minutes, and I never felt pain over it again. I’ve experienced actual, true healing through music.

“A lot of people roll their eyes at pop because it’s a female-dominated genre.”

Why do you think the female voice is important in music right now?

I think most of the world has been male-dominated for so long. I was talking to my producer’s fiancé about me doing pop now. For a while, I wanted to be cool and underground. There are so many sub-genres of pop that are so cool. She told me that she thinks a lot of people roll their eyes at pop because it’s a female-dominated genre. Most everything else is male-dominated. Why do we roll our eyes at things that women dominate? I definitely think it’s important for women to be in the music industry because it’s time for equality, it’s time for us to have a voice and be equally represented. Even being in the industry, I work with a lot of male producers and male songwriters. Recently, I met these two Australian songwriters and they changed who I am as an artist. I was more timid and more insecure as an artist, and the way they talk about the industry is just so refreshing. They’re not going to let anyone that they can’t do anything because they’re women. There’s something different about working with women. My manager is stoked on getting a lot of women in the industry together.

Give Me Just a Little Wrap Dress

Who has inspired you the most?

Musically, my uncle because he’s done this before and he does it well. He manages to stay humble in his position. Besides music, I’d say my mom inspires me the most. She’s a very kind soul. I strive to be like that no matter where I go, I want to be someone people can connect with.

Do you try to emulate that on social media at all?

I think there are certain ways of doing it–I’m trying to do it more this year. I took a break from Youtube for a while and I’m switching gears, but mental health is something I want to talk about, body positivity, beauty and life hacks, insecurities, and other things we all go through. I’m a very vulnerable and open person and I’m not afraid to talk about those things. I think it’s important to hear more about these things so that more people know its okay to have anxiety over what feels stupid at the time, and to know that you’re not the only one who is overwhelmed. I think in the new year I want to be more active about that. I don’t want my profile to just be photos of me, I want people to know who I am.

What would you say to girls who are struggling with body positivity?

I’d say that high school doesn’t matter as much s you think it does. I remember being in high school, and it was all about guys and what they thought about me. When I strip down of the root of my body dysmorphia, I was looking at what they wanted at the time, which was a skinny blonde girl, and I’m big-boned and Asian. I didn’t even like being Asian up until two years ago. I never fit in my high school. Sometimes I’d look in the mirror and I’d be like oh wow, I look good. Whether you don’t feel confident or you do, you choose confidence. you choose to tell yourself that you feel beautiful or whether you feel bloated. You choose to tell yourself that your worth is not attached to that. Let go of any beauty standard you’re holding yourself to because you’re your own.

How would you describe your style a few words?

Minimal, streetwear with a feminine twist.

Keep up with Yumi on Spotify and Instagram!

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