Musician YOVANNI lives by his motto to “never ever, ever give up on your vision,” since he’s had a few tough and hard times throughout his life, yet in his new video, he reminds himself and us during these times to just “Breathe.” His previous charted singles “Hello,” “I Want You,” “Milkyway,” and “Breathe” have all charted.
YOVANNI moved from Cuba to Florida when he was six years old, and this began his musical path when he was overheard singing at New World School by a teacher who then gave him singing lessons during his lunch breaks. He was also accepted into the same school’s musical theatre program. He then made his way to NYC and worked odd jobs, using the money he made to record and perform. During this time, he also landed gigs as back-up vocals for dozens of local artists and bands (Nia Monet). Soon afterwards, he knew his heart and destiny lie with going solo.
Watch YOVANNI’s music video for his single in our interview below, and let yourself get lost in the beauty of the aesthetics in the video and the reminder to keep the faith and no matter the hardships in life, just ‘breathe,’ and focus on the good.
You moved to New York City during your early music career and worked several jobs while pursuing your love of music. Can you explain how you felt during this time as compared to what you’re doing currently in music?
YOVANNI: When I began my musical journey, I knew that every great musical artist I admired had lived in NYC at least once in their life. I knew that for me, I couldn’t confidently consider myself an artist unless I went to NY to fine tune my music vision. I worked as a waiter at many different restaurants and took all my tips to go to the studio and record songs. After several disappointing meetings with label executives, I noticed the music scene was starting to change due to the rapid growth of the internet music scene.
Sometimes, I felt worried because I saw how expensive it was becoming for me to record music, print CD’s and try to pay my rent at the same time. I even became homeless for a brief moment but I still managed to sing and work on my dream. Today, the music scene has become both easier and hard at the same time because of how easy it is for anyone to record music and release it as an indie artist. Unfortunately, due to the new digital music era, I feel it is harder to make it only because the scene is way too crowded with mediocre music and wannabe singers and rappers.
The art of musicianship is not really appreciated anymore because almost every song now has the same sound and three chords, and one or two lines repeated for the whole song. I still feel that for me, I must remain honest to my craft and not sell out and make these silly songs to a beat. I prefer to record with a full band and be in a studio where you lose track of time in the world of music.
I love that you aspire to “never ever, ever give up on your vision.” What does never giving up mean to you?
YOVANNI: Never giving up on your vision to me means, that no matter what is happening in your life; how fat, skinny, gay, straight, old or young, it is our duty as humans on earth to honor the blueprint that God designed for you. For me, my blueprint is to sing and make art. Even though I have so many obstacles in my personal life going on right now, I know in my soul that I can never give up my vision that God cemented in my spirit many years ago. No one should ever deny the gifts that God gave you.
You’ve worked with dozens of local artists and bands, before pursuing your solo career. When was the moment you knew you needed/wanted to pursue your music solo?
YOVANNI: I always new that I wanted to be a solo artist but somehow singing background for other artists gave me a chance to observe and learn how to navigate the industry. I remember one night I was back stage getting ready to sing background for Nia Monet, and all the sudden Bette Midler came up and introduced herself to me and said that she was excited to see the show. When I went on stage and saw how amazing it was to see a real celebrity singing along to the music, I was instantly bitten and I really began to focus on developing myself as a lead vocalist so that I could one day see beautiful angels in the audience singing along to my songs.
What was your vision when writing and recording your new single and music video for “Breathe”?
YOVANNI: The song “Breathe” happened at a very difficult moment in my life. I had just ended a very toxic relationship. I started to spiral into a deep depression and started feeling like my whole life was ending. It was a call from my producer in NY that really woke me up. I flew to NY and decided to write and record how I felt. Once I was in the studio, I felt free and started becoming my old self. (The fat kid who just wanted to write and perform songs.)
I remembered all the horrible moments I went through in my relationship and allowed all the pain and memories to guide my performance of the song. Soon after, I got back home I experienced an injury and needed surgery on my leg. I lost my little dog while in the hospital and I was not even able to walk for four months. I almost gave up but I remembered I still had my music and even though a part of my life had ended, I knew that my songs were still there waiting for me to breathe life into them.
The music video for “Breathe” is absolutely exceptional, and speaks to so many people on many levels. Can you explain the vision and collaboration process with this video?
YOVANNI: I have always been a lover of music video production. I had the chance to actually direct a few videos for other recording artists from other labels. After my accident and being stuck at home, I knew I wanted to release “Breathe” but I really wanted to produce a video. Unfortunately, I had no money and I was alone with no support. I told myself that if I could film and direct other peoples videos, I could do the same for me. I decided to get a camera, I set it up in my bedroom, took my moms statues of religious saints and candles and designed my little church in my bedroom.
Since I was not able to walk or leave my house due to my accident, I purchased some stock footage for the B-Roll that represented moments in my life and edited the video myself. It was a real genuine moment for me because, I truly felt like a real independent artist. After a couple of test shots, I decided to put all my self doubts and insecurities aside and trusted the powers that be. I filmed, directed and edited “Breathe” alone in my room and prayed that it would be received with an open mind and heart. Five years had passed before I did “Breathe,” and for me this video is a true representation of my life and the people who have entered and exited my life stage.
Who was your first concert, and do you have an overall favorite?
YOVANNI: The first concert I ever attended was Madonna “Whose That Girl” tour in 1987. I remember that whole day because I was so excited to go and see Madonna, even though there was a huge rainstorm in Miami during that whole day. I did not care. My friends and I sat in that stadium waiting for the Queen to take the stage. She was actually almost 3 hours late because it was raining in the stadium and they had to continue to dry the stage. It wasn’t until 10pm that the skies cleared and Madonna stole my heart.
What was your first album on cassette, CD and/or vinyl?
YOVANNI: The first cassette I ever owned was the first Madonna album. I played that cassette non-stop everyday in my Walk-Man cassette player.
Which five artists would you love to collaborate with?
YOVANNI: Of course my top artist to collaborate with is Madonna, but I really wanted to meet and sing with George Michael who was my ultimate male idol and vocal teacher. Today, if I had a chance to work with current musicians, I would love to work with Adam Lambert, Sarah Brightman Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga, and again my favorite artist Madonna.
Which five artists or albums would you not want to live without?
YOVANNI: I can’t live without Madonna for sure, but also some great albums that are my favorite are, George Michael – Patience, Sarah Brightman – Dive, Alanis Morrisette – Jagged Little Pill, Kristine W – Land Of The Living, the “Phantom of the Opera” Broadway soundtrack – oh and the “Staying Alive” movie soundtrack.
Do you have a guilty music or entertainment pleasure?
YOVANNI: Yes! I do have my guilty music entertainment pleasure, and my secret pleasure is K-Pop, especially the K-Pop band, TVXQ. I really like K-Pop because the guys are not afraid to get all glammed up and K-Pop videos are really fun to watch.