If Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo had a baby, Yona would be it! Her masculine and feminine edge was recently discovered by Zach Katz, President and CEO of FaZe Clan, solidifying her place as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Katz is the former manager of Sean Kingston and hitmaker J.R. Rotem, with whom he co-founded record label Beluga Heights. Since being discovered, Yona has released two singles, “Goodbye” and “So Soon” in the last eight months.
The French American, bi-lingual, Los Angeles based singer has just released her third song “Bye”. While Yona is excited to present the song to the world, she is in the process of making a big decision as not one, but several major record labels are battling against one another to make a deal. She is on track to sign a record deal in early Spring 2023.
- Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got started in music?
My interest in music developed when I was young. I’ve always loved music and I always knew I wanted to create it, but there were two pivotal things that I think really influenced my love for the craft.
My moms best friend was a piano teacher, and would come to our house and play beautiful classical melodic pieces. This while also being heavily influenced by Michael Jackson, AC/DC, Stevie Wonder, and other music artists my parents would play around the house, made me fall in love with music.
Throughout all years of elementary school, I voluntarily participated in musicals on stage further developing my passion for music and performing. By the age of 12, I started going to friends’ houses who had the necessary materials to record music, and began to create my own songs that I would post on SoundCloud. A few years later, by the age of 16 , Zach Katz took notice of my work, and I proceeded to record music with professionals in real studios.
- Who are your biggest musical influences and how have they shaped your sound?
My biggest influences are Stromae, AC/DC, Maneskin, Juice WRLD, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga. I think many of us can relate, growing up watching Hannah Montana was a game changer! 😉 I loved Hannah’s sound and continue to love Miley’s music. Lady Gaga, is also very inspiring as she’s created a whole new genre in the “pop” industry. She is always willing to do things others might be too afraid to do. I like that.
On the other hand, while I was listening to Hannah Montana and Lady Gaga, my dad was blasting AC/DC on the way to school. That influenced my liking for heavy metal and rock. Having these two different styles of music has helped me find a happy medium and influences the way my music sounds.
- Can you walk us through the process of creating and recording your latest single?
It was June 2022, a random session and my first time working with a song writer. We were going over some songs that were in the vault and in the last 10 minutes of the session we created something from scratch. He grabbed a guitar and we started humming some melodies that sounded good to the ear until we found a catch hook melody.
He asked me if I had anything specific to get off my chest and I told him I wanted this song to be about moving on and saying goodbye to all the things and people I didn’t want in my life anymore. In a matter of seconds we created the “Bye” hook and we put it in the vault. A few months went by and we hadn’t done anything with it, but I knew I wanted to make something out of it. K-Suave and Candy always hangout around the people I work with and one day someone had suggested they try to get on the beat to see what it would sound like. It was ear candy right away. It was actually on my 17th birthday, I went to the studio and they had just finished recording the song. I came in to hear it finished, and immediately fell in love.
- Can you talk about any upcoming projects or collaborations you have in the works?
I am hopefully dropping another single this spring. In terms of yearly goals, I hope to create an EP by summer.
- How do you maintain a balance between staying true to your artistic vision and catering to the demands of the industry?
It’s definitely one of the more challenging things that comes with being an artist, let alone a young artist. To be honest I am personally trying to find that perfect balance of catering to the demands of the industry and learning about those things while also staying true to myself. It’s all about eb and flow and not letting others’ opinions and demands affect you too much.
- Can you discuss any personal challenges you have faced in your music career?
Finding my sound was definitely one of the “challenges” I have faced making music. Finding my sound took time and was a test of my patience, which was definitely challenging and frustrating at the time. It was even more challenging when I was trying to make music on my own without any industry resources or guidance. It was way more difficult without professionals guiding me that’s for sure.
- How do you use social media and other forms of digital marketing to promote your music and connect with fans?
I like to post snippets of my music and see the feedback I receive. Usually when the snippet gets good traction I will post more and more until it releases to get them excited. I am new to the world of marketing but I am definitely learning what works best for me. Everyone’s marketing tactics are different. Different things work for different people.
- Can you tell us about any philanthropic or social causes that you are particularly passionate about and how you plan to use your platform to support them in the future?
Raising awareness surrounding addiction. The music and entertainment industry as a whole is cursed by excessive substance use. I have seen many people and artists I love struggle from substance abuse and lose their lives. If I could I would fix this and the entire rehabilitation system.
- Can you tell us about a particularly memorable performance or experience you’ve had in the industry?
Growing up in LA I always unintentionally felt like I was a part of the industry, even when I wasn’t. I had the luxury of being able to watch American Idol on my television screen and attend the live shows. I also got to see the paparazzi craze over Lady Gaga at the MTV Awards 2009. That was memorable. And of course seeing Michael Jackson’s on stage performances or music videos, was very inspiring for me as a kid.
- How do you handle criticism or negative reviews of your music?
It makes me motivated to work more. Helps me recognize flaws in a way. I’ve always used criticism as an advantage. Constructive criticism can be very useful and helps me learn and makes me more motivated to work harder and become a better artist by breaking down the things I can improve on.
- Can you share something about yourself that your fans may not know?
I’m bilingual and speak fluent French 🙂 Working towards hopefully making french music soon. And I play video games!! Like a lot. Lol!
- How has your life changed since being discovered?
My life has changed in some ways, but not much. If anything being discovered changed the way I viewed myself and my career in music. Having professionals believe in me and give me the tools to be successful and record music allowed me to take music much more seriously than before I was discovered. And I guess now I just spend more time in the studio than in school (I’m a senior in high school).
- Can you tell us how your family and friends support you in your career?
My parents and my family have always supported my music career, which is a big part of why I love it so much. And my friends are so supportive too. They love listening to the small snippets I have when I hangout with them after recording at the studio. I am so lucky to have a very solid support system inside and outside of the industry.
- Can you talk about a personal accomplishment you are particularly proud of in your music career?
Receiving compliments from other artists or people I look up to continues to be my biggest accomplishment. It is so surreal.
- What advice would you give to aspiring singers and songwriters?
My advice to aspiring singers and songwriters is to surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed, follow your gut, to always keep going, and never be afraid of doing something different. There is no wrong answer to art.