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INTERVIEW & ALBUM SAMPLER: YahZarah

13/04/2010

Ladies and gents, the wait is nearly over! YahZarah will release her much awaited +FE Music debut, The Ballad Of Purple St. James, on May 4th, but to keep you going until then we have a 7-minute album sampler AND a lengthy interview with the lady herself.

Press play below and take a listen while you get the lowdown on YahZarah joining +FE Music, the direction of her new album, her thoughts on blogs and twitter, and more…

The Ballad Of Purple St James Sampler

Tracklist: 1. Shadow Intro, 2. All My Days ft Darien Brockington, 3. Cry Over You ft Phonte, 4. Have A Heart, 5. Change Your Mind, 6. Starship, 7. Shadow Outro

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First things first, thanks for taking the time out to answer these questions, I guess you are busy leading up to the May 4th release.

How are you feeling now that you have a label to call home, a finished album and a firm release date?

I’ve always worked best in a team. And it feels great to have one made up of people who I know well and can trust with the future of my music.

And it goes without saying that I’m releaved to be finished with this chapter. Now I’m busting at the seams to share it with my fans.

The first single, ‘Why Dontcha Call Me No More’, was a little ‘unexpected’ in terms of the sound you went for, kind of New Wave meets Funk. Can we expect more surprises on ‘The Ballad…’?

First, let me say I’m so glad that the single surprised you. I seek to be unpredicatable. But I also believe that anyone who’s ever seen me perform wasn’t shocked. I’ve been this girl the whole time just never worked with anyone who trusted me to be her.

So yes! Absolutely there will be surprises but they will be welcome ones. As well as songs that bring you back to the YahZarah you’ve known and loved.

Besides Phonte and Nicolay, who else did you work with on this album?

TheRealFocus (Marsha Ambrosius, Raphael Saddiq), Nate Smith (Michael Jackson), Steve McKie & Tone Whitfield (Jill Scott, Bilal), as well as newcomer Robbie McDonnald (Debora Bond).

They all brought something different to the table that was a piece of me.

If you had to pick a track from the album to give to someone who had never heard you before, to act as a kind of introduction, which would you choose and why?

You know you can’t ask me a question like that I’m close to them all….lol

I took a quick look at the track-listing for the project and I noticed that ‘The Tickler’ is absent. Why did you decide to leave that track off?

I knew someone would ask me that…lol I really fought for the track but once the new version of “The Ballad” was finished it just didn’t fit the story we were telling. Will be releasing it this summer as a gift to the fans with a set of fresh remixes by “The Apple Juice Kid” as well as some well known break beat and house producers.

You and Phonte (one half of Foreign Exchange) have known each other a long time, and have collaborated with each other on numerous occasions. Also, being affiliated with FE means you get to work with other artists such as Nicolay, Darien Brockington, Zo! and Carlitta Durand. Does being surrounded by other talent help you as an artist?

Oh, diffinantly we drive one another. Everyone is painfully honest with one another and respects each other’s gifts and it makes for some really great music. Because we’re all perfectionists.  There is a lot of quality control going on…lol

2010 is a busy year for you, first up there is ‘The Ballad…’ release, then I heard you are contributing to Zo!’s ‘Sunstorm’ project, and finally the new FE album at the end of the year.

Have you started work on the new FE album yet? Any insider info you can share J ?

I will be on the next FE album. I have heard some of the music….

And, it is amazing that’s all I can share, the rest you’ll have to wait and hear:-)

After the release of your first two albums, Hear Me and Blackstar, you nearly quit music for good. What led to this? And what, ultimately, made you decide to get back in the studio?

Yes, I almost left music not because I didn’t love it but because I hated the business. And the business had crept into my creativity and ruined everything I came to love about making music. To the point I didn’t even want to hear my own name it caused me too much pain.

So I went and got a day job, and I had never had a job in my life, that wasn’t music but it was good  for me.

I needed the normal it provided, because I had defined myself by my voice for so long I really didn’t think I had anything else to offer the world so everything happens for a reason.

Eventually the fans called me back and I released the beef I had with my past.

And understood that I had more to share so I started working on the first draft of the Ballad and in between dropped the “The Prelude” to reintroduce myself to folks and buy myself sometime to finish “The Ballad”

Most people know you as Yahzarah, but you also have a kind of alter-ego known as Purple St. James, I understand you created this to allow you to contribute to other artists projects without being identified. Why was this necessary and does ‘Purple St. James’ still have a role to play?

Well… The truth is without “Purple” there probably wouldn’t have been another project. Like I said before I didn’t even want to hear my own name after my experience with my previous label situation. And writing under her name lifted me out of a creative funk. I so I  felt it only fitting to name this album after the inspiration she gave me.  Because of the new life she gave me I was able to give birth to all types of stories.

Music blogs/sites have split the music community; some see them as a major helping hand (in terms of promotion and visibility) whereas others think they are an artist’s worst enemy (due to piracy , etc.). Where do you stand on the issue?

I think Blogs are a blessing particularly for indys because in a lot of cases the world wouldn’t know some of us exist at all if they weren’t around.

Bloggers are honest that don’t have shit to lose by telling the truth as they see it. And what we need is honest critique how else do we grow. That’s the up side. Down side is people get real brave behind a keyboard sometimes, and use the power for evil. Second worst thing is that you can’t send anybody nothing and say please just review don’t leak this.

However if the music your making is quality most of the time the folks in cyber world will still support it with a download or a hard copy buy.  Even if it can be found leaked for free.

That just means that an artist has to make sure that they are putting out the very best they have to offer…. Or a leak will hurt them.

I know you are an avid ‘twitter-er’, how important do you think the new wave of social media is, especially for independent/non-major label artists?

Well I can only speak for myself as an indy.

When you don’t have a machine, to make sure your constantly in the lives of your fans. Twitter is a great way to stay connected to them. As well as great way to connect to other artists both major and indy that you which to build a bridge with. And truth be told my fans keep me connected to music and all type of current events. And I enjoy sharing my randomness with them and vice versa. And it really hits home the reach twitter has, when you go to a city and meet somebody who you’ve connected with on there…. Love me some @alcoholharmony  his voice is nutts and his tweets give me life….LMAO!

Finally, a couple of questions to satisfy my curiosity about other people’s musical tastes. First up, which current artists do you enjoy listening to, and what albums do you have in rotation at the moment?

You mean besides “The Ballad of Purple St. James”*wink*

Devil’s Halo, Cubic Zarconia, Mary J’s “My Life”, Little Dragon, Gorgia Ann Muldrow “Roses”,  Quadron, “The Robert Glasper Beat Tape” by producer Dela,  and Prince’s “Controversy”Are getting the most attention in my i-pod right now along with Devin the Dude….lol

Who would you cite as your main influences, past or present?

When I first started writing songs my main influences where Ella Fitzgearald I love her intonation and phrasing fast or slow she was on.  Mini Rhipertons highs helped me out while playing with my own range as a child. I would play around with her songs to work out my high range. Some albums that drove my writing while creating  “Hear Me” where Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book” Sly Stone’s “There’s a riot Going On”  and Chaka Khan’s “Stomping at the Savoy, Marva Whitney, The Miseducation of Lauren Hill, and D’ Angelo’s Voodoo. Those influences can be heard in the vocal arrangements that I was doing at the time.  Now it’s more like Grace Jones, Blondie, The Beetles , Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Pink Floyd , and Maddona  I gravitate to the folks that were messing around with stepping outside of norms right now.

Glam, grace, fire, and nostalgia I think some up my sound right now

Are there any artists who you haven’t yet worked with but would like to?

Raphael Saddiq, Quincy Jones, Kanye West, Jamie Lidell, Prince,Rashad Smith, Linda Perry,Mark Ronson,Nile Rogers, Robin Hannibal, Bert Bacharach, Just Blaze, Sa Ra, Rayan Leslie, maybe…There are a whole bunch of folks…lol But they came to mind first.

Maybe some colabs with folks like Wale, Jean Grae, The Black Keys, Damian Marely, Jay Electronica, Dweli, K’Nann

Yahzarah, again thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, I appreciate it. Good look with the album, I can’t wait to hear it.

PLEASURE WAS ALL MINE THANKS FOR SUPPORTING ME!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 30/04/2010 7:23 am

    lmao nice info man.

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