Yeek has grown up on three coasts over three decades, bouncing around from New Jersey to Florida and California. Befitting his longtime proximity to the beach, the Filipino-American songwriter’s presence in conversation is mellow; he is engaged in a laid back and gentle way that unfolds like his music. Yeek’s sound is equal parts atmospheric and emotional, balancing the internal and external with bluesy dips and dreamy falsetto R&B vocal runs.
Yeek caught up with Noisey to talk about the places he’s been and how his perspective of making music has changed. He seems to have grown from an introspective, sometimes melancholy artist who tried to meet the expectations of others to reaching a new place of relaxed, self-governed focus on his newest single: “Freaky (RGB),” which dropped back in January.
The music video for “Freaky (RGB),” which he is premiering exclusively with Noisey, follows a gamer as she experiments with creating sentient life inside a photorealistic video game. He said the track represents “the first song in a while where I was making music, really, the way I used to make it—for the fun of it.”
“It’s the first song I put out without a label because I had finished the label contract, so I released it independently,” said Yeek, who is also a producer on his songs. “It’s a product of me listening to a lot of U.K. garage, drum and bass, and electronic music.”
Yeek was born in New Jersey, moved to South Florida for high school, and spent most of his 20s in Los Angeles, where songwriting became his central focus. Yeek has been living and writing music in California for the last eight years, picking up a laid back smoothness from the West Coast. He said that he took with him from his early childhood a Jersey accent that he didn’t shake off until his high school years in Florida, a time he describes as formative to his sense of wonder and curiosity.
“A lot of people say Florida is weird and that is valid, but I still get defensive when people call it weird,” he said. “It’s a product of just being a boring place, so a lot of people from Florida are imaginative.”
The places that raised him have strongly shaped Yeek’s work, which is deeply steeped in nostalgia for the recent past. He cited the emo bands his brother introduced him to growing up in New Jersey and the OPM (Original Pilipino Music) compilation CDs his parents played as among the foundational forces in his love for music. As his influences have grown over the years, so has his artistry: He spoke joyfully of spending full days creating while losing himself in DJ mixes from the 90s and 2000s.
Yeek has equal appreciation for visual art, having been drawn to graphic design growing up. He said that he’s always been curious about illustration, and those passions have actually helped inform his music. “I’m tapping back in with it,” he added. “I started designing a lot of the covers and the flyers. I think that’s where ‘Freaky (RGB)’ came to be, in the moments I was drawing, illustrating, designing, and listening to mixes for 10 hours a day.”
The fluidity of his lived experiences have given way to an invigorating change of pace for Yeek’s music, and he relied on that freedom to create from the most holistic place inside of himself. “Freaky (RGB)” is a product of an artist looking warmly to a new chapter.
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