Engineering Graduate & Up-and-Coming Music Artist Yalene Talks About Her Music Journey And Recent Debut Christmas Single

How did your upbringing spark your love of music?

I was a bit of a late bloomer. My sister and I first discovered Pop music on a road trip where family friends exposed us to music like “Low” by T Pain and “Gimme More” by Britney Spears. We came home and immediately went through Britney’s discography and that was the spark that started it all for me. Once I started exploring music, I discovered that music created by women made me feel ways that were indescribable; I would feel powerful and in touch with my femininity. I fell in love with the way women artists told their stories in beautiful mediums and through lyrics and melody. This inspired me to start expressing my emotions through singing and songwriting.

What is the inspiration behind your single “From Me To Yours”?

Christmas is my favourite time of year, and the magic of holiday music would always get me in a cheerful spirit. The lights, the snow, and the fireplace glow makes the holidays the most romantic time of the year. It makes sense now that my debut single is a Christmas tune. When writing this song, I was thinking about the last day before the winter break, and making a gift for your sweetheart– something for them to remember you by until the next year.  

I wrote the song last year during the lockdown. I was working on another track when the beginning of this song came through to me. Immediately, I knew it had a Christmas feel. I get so excited when melodies come to me, I can’t even make it to my voice memos app to record it. I just record a video of it as quickly as I can because I’m scared the inspiration will pass. Later, I sat at my piano and started chopping away at it until I figured out the rest of the song. I wanted to make a track to capture the romance of Christmas and so I wrote ‘From Me To Yours (This Christmas)’: a dreamy, nostalgic, sultry Christmas song.

You mentioned that your music “represents the perspective of Toronto women and how they navigate through their love lives.” – what does this mean?

Toronto is known for having the most beautiful, intelligent, classy women, and sometimes balancing one’s aspirations with love can be challenging. Through talking with my friends, it’s clear that there is a gap between what many Toronto women strive for in relationships and what is offered to them. Despite the aspirations they may have for empowering and transformative kinds of love, there is a culture evident in the city in which young women are conditioned to confuse control for love. I tried to represent the realities of complicated relationships in Toronto in my earlier releases. To offer an escapism from this bleakness, I wanted to create music that represented an aspirational interpretation of love that will provide a break from the cold, brutal winters and dating scenes of Toronto this Christmas season.

Now that you’ve graduated from Industrial Engineering at U of T – do you plan to pursue a career down that path or are you trying to focus more on music moving forward?

To be honest, I don’t know.  I had wonderful experiences in the field of engineering and it is my secondary skill set. However, I’ve always felt like there was something more for me than what engineering can offer. I just hope to give my all and be happy in whatever path I go down.

Which musicians have influenced you and why?

Growing up, most of my western vocal training was done using Carrie Underwood’s music and vocal technique. In addition, Lana Del Rey helped me realize that you can write and sing about everything and anything: women don’t have to be perfect or strong all of the time. Women can be broken, depressed, submissive, flawed, wild and still deserve not to feel less than.

Finally, M.S. Subbulaskhmi, a carnatic legend, was a huge influence on me during my carnatic training. Her ability to use vocal embellishments with ease has always mesmerized me.

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