Lo and behold: A lovely new song has entered the ether.
It’s christened ‘By Myself’ and its maker is Australian singer-songwriter and producer Yeo, who, with his close friend and musical comrade Charlie Lim, has turned a gorgeously realised R&B single that brings the testifying warmth of the human voice and the mood-perfect digi-age swells of bass into spirit-elevating service of each other.
The single is the latest transmission from the Brisbane-born, Melbourne-based artist who has been making soul-infected pop with the singularity of an auteur for a number of years. The song is the perfect agent of musical transcendence: It’s so inviting; it easily sweeps you up in its fervour and generosity of spirit. Today, Yeo lifts the veil on it with Bandwagon – ahead of the impending arrival of the larger album that it’s a part of, Recovery Channel.
In the interview below, Yeo takes us through how he discovered his voice, his vision for how he will manifest it and his friendship with Charlie Lim.
Tell the people who you are.
Hi. I'm Yeo, an artist and producer from Melbourne, Australia. I've got a few albums under my belt. The last two are probably the best known, Ganbaru (2016) and Desire Path (2017). Over the last couple of years, I've been travelling to Singapore to play a little bit more, with aims to reach more of Asia and meet more people in Asia and get a bit of exposure. One of the gateways of that has been my good friend Charlie Lim.
How did you first link up with Charlie and how would you say you vibe, creatively?
I met Charlie when I first moved to Melbourne in 2009. I needed a multi-instrumentalist and he joined my band. From there, we became friends and played some shows together, both him and my band and also me supporting him. We really hit it off and a big reason for that is because we listen to a lot of the same music, or we did around that time, any way. I remember us speaking a lot about D'Angelo. Since then, we've both grown up and maintained that relationship, which is what allows us to keep working now. It's a long friendship, really.
Very few people make the transition from being fans to making their own music. What drew you to making your own?
Looking back, I'll be the first to tell you that I didn't know what I was doing at the time but I realised that, within Australia, at least, there's always been a gap for the kind of music I make. My music doesn't sound very "Australian". It sounds American or a mix of the two and I didn't do that intentionally because it was I listened to. And being a fan of what I listened to, I just started dabbling. When I played what I had made for a few friends, they were like, "No one's making this". That gave me the self-belief to pursue my path.
Would you say that, even in the most general sense of the term, you have an all-encompassing philosophy of music?
"All-encompassing" is very scary. I don't know if I could commit to that as a term for principle or overarching vision but I feel like a lot of my music and attitude comes down to being a good person and having a good time. It's a balance between the two. I've made some decisions where I've done stuff for money but, often, I feel empty when I make those decisions. So, more often than not, it's about the songs; it's about the artistry, painfully so.
What do you mean?
Sometimes, people that I work with hate that I'm so committed to making something good. That's where Charlie and I both connect. We both deliberate over our work so much. I want to make a good song that'll change people's lives. That's how high the stakes are.
How do you reconcile that with the emphasis on numbers that underpins anything that exists online and with the contemporary vision of music as "content"?
Oh, I find it really difficult. Especially as time goes on and I get older, I find myself getting more disconnected with youth and the way that media trends are going. But I'd say that I reconcile it by trying to stay true to myself. I'm only posting things that I enjoy; I'm making music that I like. And when it comes to sponsored content, if I align with the brand, its values and what it's trying to do, great. Sometimes, I'm broke and I just need the money! [Laughs] But I want it to be deeper than that.
And how has your experience in the music ecosystem of Melbourne been?
I find that there is a big variety of music there – a lot of niches, a lot of pockets of scenes of people who make up these micro-communities. Sometimes, the right people come along and band them all together to put on a big event. It's kind of bubbling all the time. In terms of music, it's a very dynamic city. It's not competitive in the sense that people want to bring each other down but there's just a lot going on and you have to be good to do anything. I think it's a good environment to be in.
Lastly, what keeps you inspired to make music?
Lately, it's been what I see. It triggers feelings, especially when I'm in a new place. I was in the Galapagos Islands, for instance, which is like a zoo without fences; just animals everywhere. Those new experiences generate new thoughts and feelings in tandem with amazement. I'm always trying to harness that. And as long as I have a good time, I'll always have the fuel to make stuff. The fuel comes from bad experiences, too. As humans, we'll always be riding a rollercoaster of bad and good.