JYellowL: “my music is a form of release to me”

by James Hendicott
0 comment

Having long been at the forefront of the rise of Irish hip-hop, JYellowL is years into an impressively varied career, but his focus remains heavily on learning.

Of Nigerian-Irish origin, Jean-Luc Uddoh is fiercely political in his outlook, with his music blending that interest with a deeply personal side. Three years since his last record, he’s exploring the lofty aim of perfection.

“There’s definitely another album on the way, I’m about 60% of the way through with it, but I want to make sure that it’s perfect,” he says. “I want it to be a perfect album. I want to make sure I’ve said what I want to say, that it’s ready for the world.”

“Most of the time my songwriting is built around a concept that comes before the lyrics. I try to speak to myself and understand what it is I am trying to say, and then rely on my creativity to say it in a way that sounds good. It’s a method of my songwriting process.”

“If I want to say something emotional, for example, I have to make sure the music is crafted towards the emotion I’m trying to portray. It’s very important to me to be able to communicate that clearly to producers. When I outsource that, knowing myself what I want is very important. Trying to sonically describe something that’s in your head can sometimes lead to them looking at you like you’ve three heads. So I picked up some music theory, piano, keyboard… at least I can have a skeletal structure then of what it is I am looking for.”

“It’s something I’ve got better at, I’ve learnt a lot from working with different people. Each producer is different, they might be better at sampling or better at more traditional music.”

A lot of that music takes on a distinctly political tone, a natural follow on from JYellowL’s degree in politics and the way he thinks.

“What it is for me as a person is that I’m very much a thinker,” he explains “I like to analyse the world and be constructive, understand things well, how the world works and why things are the way they are. As I got older I realised that a lot of politics actually affects our lives more than anything, economics, standard of living, stuff like that. A lot of people aren’t aware how certain things actually impact them.”

“I always speak about these things in my music, things that I feel I need to give attention to, as an outlet. In a way, it’s a form of release for me. Putting out my music is a natural step. It’s like having a conversation, if something annoys you, you have a conversation with someone else. For me, the next step is putting it to music. For one, I’d like people to understand that immigrants are not the source of your problems.”

“I learn a lot from watching big acts now, and how they sequence their sets and connect with their audiences. That’s one of the big things I’m working on.”

JYellowL’s music has taken him in a couple of strange directions, not least competing for Ireland’s Eurovision entry last month, and a prominent role in the soundtrack to one of the FIFA football video games.

“Eurovision was a rollercoaster of emotions,” he says. “There were a lot of amazing interactions with great people, surrounded by great musicians. The beauty of it was the variety. Music is so subjective and when it comes from such polarised styles of music with only one winner, that’s difficult, but it was really fun.”

“Even to this day I have people on this journey with me because of FIFA. It’s crazy that it’s been five years, there are people from all over the world that I connect with because of the game. It’s amazing to know that my music is part of people’s lives, and connects with their memories.”

Related Articles