ARTIST NAME: Alex Yen
SONG TITLE: 9 To 5
My name is Alex Yen, and I’m a singer-songwriter based out of Boston, Massachusetts.
I started playing music in high school, and I was always looking for the best way to express my own artistic voice.
I was always inspired by people like Frank Ocean and Sufjan Stephens, and how they can communicate their emotions so eloquently with their lyrics.
After getting into music school, I fell in love with the process of writing, producing, and singing my own songs, even though I wasn’t trained to be a singer.
I eventually realized that I was tired of letting my insecurities hold me back from doing what makes me truly happy.
After writing a number of songs that are personal and true to me, I was inspired to create a professional album that is a true representation of my artistic vision.
Tell us how you develop your sound and style to make it different from other musicians.
I tend to gravitate toward interesting ambiances and textures, and because of that, I love creating moody and spacey atmospheres in my music. I love creating music that will let you unwind and take you to a different state of mind.
Tell us your opinion on the way new artists are coming up and the frequent release of songs.
I think it’s great that it’s become so easy for people to create music nowadays. Software and online services have become so convenient and easy to use that there’s no excuse not to express yourself! The only thing about that is that it becomes hard to stand out with so much content being created.
State your experience as a musician.
I began my career in music as a jazz musician, believe it or not. I thought that jazz was what I was going to do for the rest of my life, but I feel fortunate to have realized early on that it was not my path. I don’t regret studying jazz, because it gave me great skills and musical knowledge.
After getting into college, I began to gravitate toward music production and recording, and I realized that singing and songwriting was a more natural way for me to express myself with music.
Tell us your opinion on streaming and digital download of songs.
Streaming is definitely a hugely sensitive issue for musicians nowadays.
On one hand, it makes it very convenient to gain exposure on a platform that millions of people use, but on the other hand, artists are being severely underpaid.
It’s making it harder for independent artists to tell their own stories without having to worry about financial support.
Tell us your goals and plans.
This album is about such a specific time in my life, so I’m excited to release it and move on to creating more music and telling different stories. I really want to write an album about how technology and modern convenience have affected how we interact with people and lovers nowadays.
Tell us five current artists that are your favorite.
At the moment, they are Frank Ocean, Sufjan Stevens, Seinabo Sey, Robyn, and Beyoncé.
Tell us your best song up to date and share the link.
I think one of my favorite songs I’ve made is “Good Times” on my upcoming album. It’s one of the more bittersweet songs I’ve written, and it’s about letting go of grudges and choosing to remember the good times.
Tell us your dream and hope for the future.
My dream for the future is that I can continue to make music and tell different stories from the perspective of a queer Asian artist.
I feel that there isn’t enough Asian representation in pop culture, especially in the United States, and hopefully, that will change in the future.
Tell us what has changed in the music industry.
The music industry has definitely been heavily affected by technology and social media. Like I said before, it’s become very convenient to access content, but because of it, artists are becoming underpaid and underrated.
Tell us your opinion on television/radio stations playing the same songs from established artists and giving little chances to independent artists.
I totally understand it; those who work in the media want to use content that will sell, and established pop artists are a sure-fire way to make money.
There are definitely many outlets for independent artists to be featured, but I think the problem is that indie artists rely on things like streaming services to make money.
Tell us the challenges independent artists are facing and how to tackle them.
Established artists have the promotion, merchandise, and access to revenue streams that indie artists don’t necessarily have. There are plenty of people that appreciate independent artists for what they do, but not enough people understand the struggle that these artists go through just to record a couple of songs. We need to change the way we compensate artists for their music.
Tell us your opinion on this album.
This album that I’m releasing on May 31st means a lot to me because it represents my personal freedom from my last long-term relationship.
The music itself is inspired a lot by artists like H.E.R., Sufjan Stevens, and Frank Ocean, and it’s meant to transport you to a reflective, spacey state of mind.
Several songs on the album are combined with moody ambiance, interesting textures, and ASMR-like sounds that are perfect for creating a chill vibe or just relaxing with your headphones.
Writing this album was really empowering because it was the first time I was able to express myself artistically, regardless of someone else’s opinion of me.
I’m hoping that with this album, I can inspire those who are struggling with forgiving and letting go and speaking their mind as well.
I also think that as a queer Asian artist, it’s important for people like me to have our voices heard, especially with the lack of Asian representation in the music industry today.
Tell us your opinion on using social media to promote music online.
I think social media is definitely a powerful tool to promote music. However, because of the number of people using it for promotion, you definitely need to be clever in the way that you promote, and understand what your audience is.
Tell us about your music career.
During my career in music, I’ve had many opportunities to work with a variety of artists. I’ve worked as a producer, engineer, and musician, so I’ve seen how it is to be on both sides of the glass in a recording studio, and I think that experience has definitely helped when it came to debuting myself as an artist.
It takes a lot of patience and conviction to present yourself as an artist, and I’ve learned that it’s important to do everything with an intention.
Tell us what still motivates you to go on with your music career.
I just love the magic of creating music. Whether I’m in the studio recording an artist, or writing my own music in my room, the end product is always rewarding and inspiring to me. The way that music can bring people together, share stories, or even just make you dance, that is truly magical to me.
Tell us about you as a person.
In contrast to the moody persona that my album cover suggests, I’m actually a very goofy and fun-loving person! One of my main priorities in life is to be happy – Even if that means making mistakes, even if it means falling flat on your face. I think that way, you really get the most out of the short time that we have on this Earth.
Elaborate on the story behind the song.
This song is about being caught in a relationship in which you’re constantly thinking and wondering about the other person, but you know that they’re not reciprocating. When I was writing it, I was in this kind of situation, and I remember feeling frustrated and helpless because I knew there was nothing I could do about it. It’s one of my favorites on the album because it creates a very dreamy and longing atmosphere.
Tell us the process involved in making this song.
I started out with the piano sample, and I just kept looping it until I came up with the melody, “I’m tired of always waiting for you 9 to 5…” Then I slowly added in the plucks, the drums, and the synths to create the spacey atmosphere. I knew that I didn’t want the production on this song to be too crazy, because I wanted it to be simple and focused on a specific vibe.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
My artist name is just my birth name, Alex Yen. I like it because it’s short, and when I introduce myself, I just say “Yen, like the money” and I think it’s very cute.
State the title of the song and the meaning.
The song is called “9 to 5”, and it’s alluding to typical work hours that people have on weekdays. It’s a metaphor for the person in the song being preoccupied and unavailable.
State the title of the album and the reason for choosing the title.
The title of the album is “Blue”, and it’s named after one of the first songs that I wrote for the album, but unfortunately the song never made it into the tracklist. I still decided to keep the title because I felt like the color blue itself is a good representation of the reflective, moody ambiance that I was trying to create with this album.