At age 16, a lot of us were probably in the middle of high school just starting to figure out what we wanted to do in life but Warren Hui was already releasing an album and kickstarting his music career.
Known to the world as warrenisyellow, Warren's first venture into music began in 2018 with a remix of American rapper Valee's 'Womp Womp' on SoundCloud. Within that same year, the Indonesian hip-hop artist released his first official album ALIEN, after creating beats and writing lyrics inspired by Aminé's mixtape OnePointFive.
Now, two years later, the 18-year-old is setting himself apart in the world of hip-hop and rap music with his sonic versatility and complex lyrical approach, quite rare from a young artist.
"The kind of music I make, as of now, is super interesting and different...I want to show people that I can create a lot of different shit and hopefully inspire a lot of kids to do whatever they want in art," Warren tells Bandwagon.
Since his debut, Warren has gone on to do quite a number of things. Most recently, the 'ALIEN' act performed on Eastern Standard Time's DOUBLE HAPPINESS Winter Wonder Festival, alongside some notable acts in Asian music like Pamungkas, Seori, CHUNG HA, Ardhito Pramono, ATEEZ, and more.
"It was a blessing cause it was my first time being recognized and just accepted for being a musician and I couldn’t be happier with it. Some of the artists that performed were so dope and personally some of my favourite new artists," said Warren, recalling his experience at the festival.
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This follows the release of his latest album SUGARTOWN, a project in collaboration with Korean producer Chasu. Taking listeners through a whirlwind of vibes and emotions, the record showcases the young artist's range and versatile rap style. From upbeat tracks that make you want to dance in your room to heartfelt verses that remind you of a past relationship, SUGARTOWN is a true testament to all that Warren can do as and artist and more.
"I would say that this could’ve been the best project I’ve made so far and definitely the most unique. It’s a project that highlights my experience in Indonesia and the relationships I have with people. I’m very proud of the project," Warren on SUGARTOWN.
In his next steps, Warren is taking more time to focus on his music and carving his own unique music style. Bandwagon caught with the young rapper on his musical inspirations, his sporadic music-making process and where he plans to be in the next five years.
Hi warrenisyellow! Introduce yourself to us!
Hello, I am Warren or warrenisyellow! I was raised in Jakarta, Indonesia and I mainly create alternative hip-hop music or just anything in general, cause I like to experiment with everything.
I actually never took my name seriously and of course, I knew yellow was a representation of me being Asian. It ended up just being my gamer tag until I just said 'fuck it' and now it’s my name. I might change it in the future though cause I’m taking a more serious route in my career.
Tell us, how did your interest in music start and what pushed you to pursue it?
I’ve been listening to rap music since 2011 because of this one movie called Real Steel. Super random but I heard Eminem’s 'Till I Collapse' on that and I fell in love with rap ever since.
From there, I started to discover Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Kanye, and like everyone in that culture. I’ve always loved when rappers write these crazy rhyme schemes with cool metaphors and witty lines so I would occasionally just write some bars down on notes and it would end up nowhere. In 2018, I wanted to make music so I dropped a remix of 'Womp Womp' [by Valee] on SoundCloud and everyone loved it. Ever since that, I just kept dropping music from producers I got from YouTube.
Till this day, I always think back on what made me fell in love with hip-hop in the first place and it keeps me going.
Could you tell us more about your first album ALIEN? From the cover art to the tracks, what inspired the entire record?
ALIEN was a record inspired by Aminé's OnePointFive project. At the time it was super fresh and just straight to the point so I wanted to create something bright and catchy with bouncy 808s, crazy bars and I did the best I could to have a conceptual project.
It ended up just being a fun project and I have vastly different types of songs on there. Tyler The Creator was definitely an inspiration with songs like 'ALIEN', 'UFO', and 'hotline interlude'. The cover art wasn’t really that deep either, it just felt right with the underproduced, witty tone it had to it. I just randomly told one of my friends to take a picture of me with the mask on and that was it.
Describe the kind of music you make and what you strive to achieve through your music.
The kind of music I make, as of now, is going be super interesting and different. I am very excited to share my new music cause I’m taking a different path with a lot of the shit I’m doing. I honestly feel like it’s just what type of mood I’m in when I make music cause I aspire to just be an artist that can go further than just one genre or one type of sound.
I get inspired by people like Tyler The Creator and Kanye because they always push boundaries and create something they love instead of just riding the wave. I want to show people that I can create a lot of different shit and hopefully inspire a lot of kids to do whatever they want in art.
In the last two years, you’ve put out a myriad of singles and albums. Walk us through what your music-making process looks like.
My music-making process is usually quite random. I write on the spot and usually finish the song in under an hour or less. I don’t like pre-writing verses and laying them down in the future because it doesn’t feel right with the mood at the moment. The best music I create is definitely on the spot and spontaneous because the feeling of getting lost in the sound takes you to a whole different world.
I believe in the feel of music but maintaining the lyrical balance too. Whether it’s free-styling or writing the next bar down, I try to have many drafts of a song until it reaches its full potential.
How do you balance being a student and pursuing music?
As for now, I am taking a gap year and I’m most likely going to keep on creating music cause ultimately that’s what I really love the most.
Before it was definitely difficult, I took music over studying which sounds really bad but I was just too passionate about creating shit. I would work every day on music after I finish my school work. Even during exam season, I would still find ways to create music and it just takes over your life when you're in the zone. I’m very fortunate to be accepted in a well-known university in New York, however, it all depends on how 2021 will turn out.
Who are some of your musical inspirations and how do you think they influence your music?
I get inspired by anything but the main inspirations that drive me to continue my music would be Tyler The Creator, Frank Ocean, and Kanye West. Other than that, my music doesn’t really sound like most of the artists that inspire me, I just like the drive they bring and the passion they have to create top-notch music.
How would you describe Indonesia’s music scene and what role do you hope to play for local music?
The Indonesian music scene is definitely growing and still in the baby stages as far as the hip-hop genre goes. I used to get very inspired by Yosugi / BAP because he would just be the dopest rapper in Indonesia and he would blow me away with his sound. Of course, we have Rich Brian who is paving ways for Asian artists, in general, and I have definitely got inspired from him.
I just wanna prove that any artist from anywhere can do anything with their music. I’m excited for what’s to come in Indonesia for sure.
Tell us about your most recent album SUGARTOWN.
SUGARTOWN is a collab project with Chasu. He comes from Korea and I got introduced to him from a close friend. I would say that this could’ve been the best project I’ve made so far and definitely the most unique. I had got inspired from artists like Tobi Lou, and Smino. It’s a project that highlights my experience in Indonesia and the relationships I have with people. I’m very proud of the project.
One particular song off the album, ‘candy choppa’ has amassed over a million streams. Tell us more about the track and why you think it resonates with your listeners.
I think 'candy choppa' has its own house and hip-hop fusion that I find super interesting and catchy. I think the whole song is just super unique and something that the fans have never heard from me. It just has that bounce with flow switches, interesting topics and yeah, I don’t really know, it’s a dope song.
Five years from now, what do you want to be doing?
Five years from now, I’d imagine having 2 other albums under my belt and creating history maybe, who knows. In this point of my life, I am blessed to have 88rising support my career and help me push out my ideas in whatever I’m doing so I’m most definitely excited for the future.
Outside of music, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy painting, drawing, architecture, fashion and just any creative ventures.
I’m really into fashion though, I would say its second to making music for me. My dad actually works in the garment industry and my mom is super fashionable so I was raised with a lot of fashion. I don’t think I am the best in fashion at all but, I am looking forward to evolving my style and just look fly.
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Share with us any upcoming plans for your music, what can we look forward to?
I have a lot of things planned in the future which I am not allowed to speak on at the moment, but once I drop, it’s gonna be very interesting because I’m going towards a different field and experimenting a lot. I just hope the people will love my new music and just the new me in general. Definitely look forward to my new stuff!
Listen to warrenisyellow's and Chasu's SUGARTOWN here: