Meet the soul-stirring singer who is enchanting us with his soothing vocals.

Jonah Yano in vintage style polariod shot

Taken by Jonah Yano

Jonah Yano in vintage style polariod shot
Taken by Jonah Yano

Jonah Yano’s delicate and wistful voice transports us to the end of prom night, slow dancing in a young teenage fantasy. Releasing his debut album souvenir this coming Sunday, the Japanese-Canadian singer is quickly becoming one of our favourite soulful singers, with his latest track “strawberry!” enchanting us with his warm and quaint vocals as addresses deep-seated loss and confusion.

The 11-track album explores his connection to his Japanese heritage with jazz bass lines and mixtures of soulful melodies and relatable lyrics. We caught up with the rising star – who captured images from his home – talking the new album, inspirations and what’s next.

Check out the interview below…

Hey Jonah! How’s lockdown been?
I’m doing alright. this morning I watched a couple of squirrels in my front yard dig in the soil and run around. I gave them names and constructed a whole narrative and origin story in my head. so that was nice. I’m in my apartment in Toronto with my partner.

How has it influenced your creativity?
You know, since every day feels the exact same like a long cello drone or something, there’s nothing to really write about. So I’ve just been experimenting with different noises and stuff. Bought a field recorder the other day. Going to start recording the ambience of the outside world soon.

What was the moment you first realised you wanted to make music?
Truth be told I have no idea. My memory is shit, probably when I got my first guitar.

Who did you grow up listening to?
Funny you ask because last night I went down a rabbit hole of music nostalgia. A lot of blues and classic rock. Stevie Ray Vaughn was a big inspiration to me growing up, Robert Johnson too. I also really loved Linkin Park.

Who do you make music for?
Right now I make music for me, Jonah Yano because he has a lot of stuff to figure out about himself. He is a bit of an idiot and is honestly quite lost in this world and is really just trying to understand what the hell is going on.

Jonah Yano in vintage style polariod shot
Jonah Yano in vintage style polariod shot

Taken by Jonah Yano

Jonah Yano in vintage style polariod shot
Taken by Jonah Yano
Jonah Yano in vintage style polariod shot

How does your dual nationality influence your music?
I think more than the sound of the music, my nationality influences the way I present myself visually. I want to be able to participate in the normalisation of Asian people in media in a small way, and I think that starts for me by representing myself without depending on any stereotypes. Just by being myself.

Your music evokes some really deep and personal stuff, like seeing your father for the first time in 15 years – how vulnerable do you feel drawing on stuff like this or is it really cathartic?
In the example of my dad, it was for sure an emotionally intense experience. It left me feeling very vulnerable. but after I came back home from Japan and I had some time to understand what I was feeling, it became something cathartic. in general too I’ve never had that much trouble talking about really personal things both in real life and art. it just felt like something I had to do.

You recorded your album in a log cabin in Nagato – is it the return to nature or the solitude that really helps you capture your music?
I recorded a bit there but I mostly recorded in Toronto and Tokyo. I think being out in nature helps me collect my thoughts and ideas and so once I get back to the city I can clearly articulate those ideas in the studio.

Why is it called souvenir? And what’s the best feedback you’ve had on the record?
Well, a souvenir is something that you can collect to remind you of a certain person or place or moment and to me, that’s what all these songs are. Little reminders. So far I’ve only had feedback from people close to me or people in music but I think all feedback is good. Everyone’s opinion is worth something to me.

What’s next for you/what are you excited for?
Like most other people I have no actual idea of what is next given our current circumstances. I have begun writing some new songs so maybe those will be something. I’m actually looking most forward to having a beer with some friends in the park. My album too, but mostly that park beer.

Jonah Yano