Songwriter Yify Zhang Shifts Her Life to Pursue Music
I made a huge life shift to be able to make music my full time focus. It was an important moment in my journey because my parents were standing at one side encouraging me to choose business and my heart was pulling at me to pursue a dream that I felt would bring me the most fulfillment and satisfaction.
I gave up my time, money and my pride in order to do this. I had to learn how to pursue something that I wasn’t already good at and immerse myself into learning how to write songs and become a better artist.
It’s important to create a safe space in order to create my art so I did make sure that my job was secure and able to support my lifestyle and art. It wasn’t always that way but I’m appreciative of having the education to be able to be a self sufficient student of the arts as I bring my dream to life.
My goal is to build my fan base around a niche audience for the kind of art that I’m creating and to explore my own sound in different ways.
Your current direction…
Vagrant Bird is the title track of my 3 song Debut EP. It is one of the most intimate songs I’ve written, and defies mainstream songwriting rules and formulas. It is my mission to keep making art that is raw and digs deep into a space that is both personal and universal.
The ideas for songs could start anywhere for me. From a subway train, to inside of a corporate office, the grocery store, etc. No matter where they start, I always try to write at home, lighting my lavender candle and propping the balcony door open (I’m lucky to have a balcony in NYC). Writing in an environment with good energy is important to me. It just allows me to travel internally to where the song wants me to go.
Once the concept is solid. The music usually comes to me first, with sparse pieces of lyrics. I work out a first draft on my Yamaha Montage keyboard, and record the first few versions on my iPhone voice memos. Sometimes, the ideas come so quickly that I don’t even have a chance to title the recordings!
I then listen back after at least a night of sleep. If the song still feels true to me, I’ll keep working on it in my own production software, and eventually get it recorded.
Work / Life balance…
I’m a firm believer of life feeding into art. Art is an expression of life and, without life, there is no art. Meditation helps me when I get overwhelmed and good friends remind me of why I create.
Band Name: Yify Zhang
Song name: Vagrant Bird
Music Genre: Cinematic Alternative
This song is about loneliness in crowded places. What it’s like to lose connection with people, who become like trees in a forest. What it takes to come alive, fly out, and connect.
My music is…
Lush, and cinematic! I write music to heal myself and hopefully others who come across my music. As a human and as an artist I’ve fought through challenges that nearly broke me, but that also taught me so much about my own strength. And much of that is thanks to art. This is the reason I make art and the reason I hope to inspire other artists through what I make.
Best advice you’ve had…
Show up, even when you feel that you aren’t good enough.
It applies to writing, mostly, because I’m really hard on myself about song writing that lives up to a standard of being personal, insightful, and musically satisfying enough. As a new performer, I also keep this in mind when I feel like I’m not “good enough” for a show. Show up, and your muse will show up for you.
I live in Brooklyn, NY. It’s vibrant, cultured, never misses a beat. I spend half my time in Brooklyn and the other half working or hanging with friends in New York. In the city there is always a show somewhere everyday and chances are the act will leave you inspired. Some of my favorite venues are Rockwood Music Hall, the Lincoln Center, and Jazz Standard. In Brooklyn, I record music and practice with fellow musicians. It’s a very supportive environment that also pushes you to be your best.
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Interview by Jacqueline Jax host of
A.V.A Live Radio