Hailing from New York City, Yonas is one of hip-hop’s most-hyped emerging artists. Known for his incredibly unique style, the 28 year old makes it known that he is unlike anyone else in the game. Fusing thought provoking content and infectious melodies, with crossover music production, Yonas has begun changing the face of music.
In just the past three years, Yonas has independently sold 100,000+ songs, 15,000+ Albums, and has accumulated over 70 Million streams digitally. His albums have consistently reached Top 5 on the iTunes Hip Hop Charts, Top 25 on the overall iTunes Albums Charts, and Top 50 on the Billboard Hip-Hop charts. The buzz generated from Yonas’s movement has also captured the attention of Mainstream Culture. His song Fall Back was featured in the major motion picture The Place Beyond The Pines, leading to similar song placements in major campaigns with Warrior Sports, Pepsi, and Fuse TV.
Learn more about Yonas in the following All Access interview:
AA: Thanks for your time! Now that we are entering the fall of 2016, what are some words you would use to describe this year? What have been some of the highlights for you and your music?
YONAS: I would describe this year using two words, Progress and Growth. It’s been the first year I’ve actually had the chance to build a full team of people working towards the overall vision of making this music reach as far as it possibly can. I partnered with a newly founded label (Tunecore / Believe Digital) who have had immense successes as a distribution company, and I’ve put together what I believe to be some of my best work yet with the project I have coming this Fall entitled “Everyday Like ItsFriday.”
AA: Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
YONAS: Growing up, I wanted to be an athlete. I played almost every sport, and was good enough to play varsity through High school and win some state championships in NY. When I was young, my mother saw I had too much energy so she put me in violin classes at the age of 5. I ended up playing until I was 12 – 13 going to Julliard and playing around the world, so music was always something I was involved with from very early on, and almost followed me throughout my life.
AA: You recently released your newest single, “Summertime Luv.” What was the inspiration for it? How different or similar is this song to the rest of your EP which you will be releasing soon?
YONAS: The inspiration behind “Summertime Luv” was the yearning to express my emotions in a way deeper than just Rap. It’s the first fully sung song I’ve ever released, and I just feel it perfectly describes my feelings about the summer season, that it’s never ending, because it’s more of an emotion than it is a climate. It’s an energy that I carry with me all day everyday, and something I can hopefully inspire others to feel. This song definitely stands out on the EP, but I think the overall concept is the same. Enjoy every day to the fullest, and if you’re lucky enough to find love, hold onto it.
AA: How creatively involved were you with the video for “Summertime Luv”?
YONAS: I am creatively involved in every video of mine. I just feel like my creative energy expands beyond just music… I love the art of creating visuals and figuring out ways to connect with people through visuals.
AA: What if anything has surprised you about the music industry? What do you think has been your biggest challenge? And what do you think has come really naturally to you?
YONAS: I was surprised just how much of the business is who you know and not necessarily what your talent level is. I’ve seen some of the most talented people go virtually unknown and to me that’s a crime, but that’s just the nature of the business. When we get to see someone reach a large platform and have their music heard by millions AND they are talented, we need to cherish those moments. I think my biggest challenge has been exactly that. I’ve had amazing success independently with tens of millions of streams around the world, yet still the biggest comment we receive from fans is “this song should be way bigger and on the radio!” I just haven’t had that “break” yet, but I feel like that has all started to really change in 2016, and that’s something I absolutely want to achieve. The thing that really comes most naturally to me is making the music, so I consider myself blessed in that sense. I don’t have to force the most important part of it all.
AA: Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you still love to work with in the future?
YONAS: There are way too many inspirations to list, that range from Jay Z, to Rob Thomas, from Billy Joel to Sam Cook, from Amy Winehouse to Daft Punk, from Passion Pit to Tupac, from Akon to Young The Giant. I appreciate the artists that were able to tap into something different and who were able to effect the masses with their craft. I hope to work with Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, Jon Bellion, School Boy Q, Tori Kelly, Joey Bada$$, Kehlani, and Curren$y just to name a few.
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you unwind from it all?
YONAS: I’m a huge sports fan, especially football, so the best time, to me, is the Fall. I like traveling to different cities and really getting into the culture of each place. one weekend you’ll find me at a dive bar in NYC, another weekend you’ll see me at a night club in Atlanta, then you might find me at a dispensary in Boulder, CO. (Laughter) For me it’s all about collecting experiences, to me that’s the most valuable currency.
AA: At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
YONAS: I hope subconsciously the message is for people to believe in something larger than life. I don’t always have to say it lyrically, but if I feel it as an artist when I’m creating, I believe the audience will feel it too when they hear it.