As she prepares to drop her debut EP, we sit down to the South London musician to discuss her latest single.
Yasmin Leigh is the new kid on the block. Born and raised in South London to a Turkish mother and American father. Her dedication to music has been with her from an early age. At the age of 5 she started learning how to play piano and she was writing her own songs by the time she turned 11. The influences from her parents and her extended family, and it had a massive impact on the type of sound that she was seeking to create from childhood. “I am influenced by Britney Spears just as much as dancing at Turkish weddings and playing Dungeons and Dragons growing up”, says Yasmin. “I can’t pinpoint one specific thing”.
She’s spent the past few years working on her sound and developing her artistry, and she’s now ready to unleash her musical prowess on the world. With her debut EP, Letters to Luc, just around the corner, she gives us a taste of what’s to come with her new single, “Dawn’s Early Light”, which details a dystopian love story via lo-fi synths, vibrato vocals and bold percussion.
As she drops the video for “Dawn’s Early Light” exclusively on Notion, we sat down with Yasmin to speak about her introduction to the world of music and the key themes behind her latest release.
Where did you grow up? Tell us a bit about your upbringing.
Born and raised in South London, although my dad is American and my mum is Turkish-Cypriot. So my upbringing was a mix of cultures and I have a fascination for all of it! The strangeness and romanticism of Americana versus the sensuality of the Mediterranean. My dad also raised my brother and I playing Dungeons and Dragons and immersed us in the fantasy genre. So that is the other single greatest influence throughout my childhood.
When did you first become interested in music?
I’ve been interested in music forever, I have never existed without it. Music is constantly playing in our house (often a different song in every room), MTV was the only thing I used to watch, my nan bought me karaoke CDs as soon as I could talk, I had piano lessons from very young, our Turkish weddings are full of loud music and drums and dancing… the list just goes on!
How would you describe your sound?
This is such a tough question to answer – it’s slightly lo-fi, lyrical pop, and it can get emo, and it is sprinkled with 00’s Britney elements, too. It is always evolving because I am constantly working to improve my skills in songwriting and production, and that is really what allows me to better express what I want to say. It can be frustrating to have an idea that’s perfect in your heart, but comes out differently when you try to materialise it.
Tell us about some of the music you’ve released so far?
My EP ‘Letters 2 Luc’ was released in November, and it’s a romantic, intimate pop record about pining for something or somebody you want so badly. There is a darkness throughout. I visualised a lonely dystopia as the setting for the record and it comes through sometimes.
Talk us through your new single, what are the key themes?
‘Dawn’s Early Light’ I suppose is about idealising a person, a place, a time. Where everything is gorgeous and you meet somebody and instantly the tension between you both is perfect. But how much of that is real, and how much of that is just in your head? America is the backbone theme of the song, the country of promise and glamour. Hence the title.
And what is the thought process behind the video?
It’s an exploration of the future, owning your dreams and all aspects of yourself. The story begins with a girl in her bedroom fantasising about everything she could be and have, but it’s all housed inside her virtual reality, which hurts. Watch until the end and you’ll see that it is possible to make your dream world a real world and be whatever kind of freak you wanna be. Madonna’s ‘Human Nature’ video was a big reference for the messaging and aesthetic.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got several upcoming singles I’m working on currently. I’m releasing the first single ‘Forget About It’ in early April. I am super excited for this one because it’s a step up from the EP in every way. I’m also planning some live shows, and of course I am always making music. Who knows, the single after next I may not have written yet. If it’s better than what I’ve already got, I have to give it up!
What are you hoping to achieve?
I want to be the singing, songwriting, music-producing dark pop princess of my dreams. I want to create a world that is glamorous, unapologetic and magical, one that anybody can become a part of when they listen to my music. I used to feel crazy for wanting these things, but since I started going for it, I don’t anymore.