Yinka Gets Romantic: The journey from Nigeria to Los Angeles via New York is a long one, but for singer and songwriter Yinka, the whole adventure has proven to be fuel for her music. The blend of culture, the multitude of experiences, it’s all part of her evolution as a person and as an artist.
Yinka started singing when she was in school in Nigeria. A school talent show provided the spark, as well as a heads-up to the adults around her.
“I decided to go ahead and give it a shot, and sing in the talent show,” Yinka says. “I did it, and everyone was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe you did that.’ I didn’t know it was serious until my principal came to my house and was telling my parents, ‘Did you guys know that she could do this?’ My parents were just like, what? I knew I wanted to sing, but I would do it in my own
little world. I was trying to teach myself certain things and I would mimic certain things. That was the first moment of, I want to do this and I can do this. I’ve been singing ever since.”
She’s been writing her own songs since she was about seven, and it was when she dropped her own original song onto the major online platforms a couple of years ago that she realized, ‘Ok, I’m an artist now’.” She’s not looked back since.
Yinka arrived in the States at the age of 10, with her parents. At the time, her only exposure to U.S. culture had been Barney.
“I would only watch it for the music, so I was like ‘oh, maybe they do a lot of crazy things’,” she says. “When I got here, it’s a real place where people do real life stuff. But it was very interesting. When I started school, I didn’t really do much but creative things. I joined every art thing, every after-school program I could, because that was the only thing that made me feel sane. Coming from another country, everything feels overwhelming. But I think music and art was the calm to the madness.”
Her move from NYC to L.A. four years ago was music-driven, and she feels like it’s one of the best decisions she ever made. What was originally intended to be temporary had turned into something more permanent, and she feels at home in the City of Angels now.
“I love it because I’ve experienced so many different phases of my life,” she says. “It affects my music, how I view things and how I create. I have the New York in me. A New York love story is different to an L.A. love story, and they’re definitely different from a Nigerian love story. When I think about that, it all inspires my experience and how I was to portray and share my love stories to people. So I definitely think it’s made an impact on my music.”
Yinka describes her sound as multidimensional, and says that she doesn’t feel a need to box herself in. Sure, there are elements of R&B, pop, and contemporary soul in there. But she’s no cookie-cutter artist.
“I think my music is something that is unexpected, it’s new, it’s interesting to the ear, and it’s exciting,” she says. “It’s more like an experience rather than just a sound.”
Her latest release is her debut EP, Let’s Get Romantic. The record is an attempt by Yinka to start a movement loving love, rather than abandoning the concept in a wave of cynicism and bad experiences.
“It started as an internal movement,” Yinka says. “Dating has been a bit crazy, everyone is saying ‘fuck love.’ You know what? I don’t think we hate love, I just think we’ve had bad experiences. Instead of seeing it as ‘fuck everyone,’ there’s more ways to express love. I started talking about what I wanted in a partner, what I wanted my romantic journey to be, and I think it just blew up into the whole EP where I tell different stories about love and real experiences, how it can be a short amount of time, but feel like forever and be a great experience. That’s what inspired the EP. Let’s get romantic again, let’s love love again. Even though we’ve had some challenges, let’s do it as a movement and do it together. Build from there.”
The artist says that the EP is definitely representative of her journey, her career, so far. The evolution is evident as she explores different directions, subtle ideas, on the actual EP.
“I write differently and I tell stories differently, so I think it’s a representation of my evolution as an artist, and also the stories I’m telling,” she says. “It tells stories as I evolved as a person. From, ‘I don’t know about romance,’ to ‘let’s get romantic’.”
It’s fitting that an EP called Let’s Get Romantic is dropping around Valentine’s Day. While currently single, Yinka has big plans for a holiday that she loves.
“I’m actually excited for Valentine’s Day, because I feel like I want to be everyone’s valentine,” she says. “I want to send my friends flowers, go out and celebrate it. I feel like we always get stuck on, ‘I’m single so I can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.’ It’s not specific that you have to be with an intimate partner, a boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s a day for love, so do whatever you want to do, whether you want to celebrate your dog or friends. So I have plans like that with my friends. Send them flowers and their favorite books, and I’m really excited for that. Also the EP. This is an exciting Valentine’s Day for me, so I plan to go all out.”
Her favorite slow jam, she tells us, is Rosalia’s “HENTAI,” which is a great one, though her own new EP is equally beautiful and expressive. As for the rest of 2023, Yinka plans to release more music, some visuals, and to tour in the summertime.
You’ll be seeing plenty of her.
Yinka Gets Romantic: Yinka’s Let’s Get Romantic EP is out March 10.
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