Hello and welcome to DIY’s introducing feature, Get To Know… which aims to get you a little bit closer to the buzziest acts that have been catching our eye as of late, and working out what makes them tick.
Yasmin Hass isn’t a complete newbie to the industry, having put out a run of singles between 2021 and 2022. Feeling frustrated by her then-management’s push to pigeonhole her into a stereotypical R&B box, she took some time off releasing before returning in stunning fashion with instant earworm ‘Cleo’. Drawing on childhood influences as diverse as Nina Simone, Nick Cave, and musical theatre (not to mention her family connections to gospel and Bob Marley), she’s primed to enter a new era with the arrival of her forthcoming debut EP ‘Worst Of Me’ - a project which encompasses indie pop, soulful lyricism and electronic flourishes to examine the insecurities and uncertainties of your early twenties. We caught up with Yasmin ahead of its release to find out more…
What's your earliest musical memory?
Listening to my Mum practicing singing at the piano, then my sister and I always joining in. We’d request a Disney song every time, without fail.
What's the first song you developed an obsession for, and why?
‘Colours of the Wind’ from Pocahontas. I loved everything about the lyrics and melody. When I was younger I wouldn’t have thought about the message it portrays, but it is such an important one.
You'll be putting out your debut EP 'Worst Of Me' via the soon-to-be-announced label Cool Online. Can you tell us a bit more about the recording process?
Ah, I’ve had such a fun time recording this EP! I wrote both ‘Cleo’ and ‘Alexander’ with Ed Thomas (Jorja Smith, Stormzy), Ross MacDonald (The 1975) and Ed Allen. ‘Cleo’ was our first session together and it’s inspired by one of my best friends, who I grew up with. I debriefed them on what was going on in my life, which involved me feeling quite stuck in London at the time and Cleo’s decision to move to Lisbon after a break up. Then we got down to writing it! Oh, and a pizza break was crucial before I started recording the vocals.
‘Alexander’ was a similar process and I remember thinking about early on in a relationship, when you start to trust one another enough to begin unveiling parts of yourself you’re scared of showing. Then I actually wrote ‘Maybe’ with Jonah Summerfield (Dylan Fraser, Holly Humberstone) before lockdown. I’d come out of a relationship and was so unsure on what I wanted, as my ex had come crawling back a few months later (a classic), so I decided to write the second half of the song from his perspective. And when Ross produced it, it took on this new energy that I just loved.
You've got familial connections to Australia, London, Jamaica, and Germany. How do you think these different cultures and identities inform your work?
Being born into these cultures and backgrounds means I’m lucky enough to have been influenced by so many different musical styles growing up. I think this is why I found it challenging at first, in my musical journey, figuring out what kind of music I wanted to create in terms of genre, as I’m influenced by so many. But I’ve realised I can use it to my advantage, as one's artist project doesn’t have to be as black and white as sometimes I feel the industry wants it to be. As long as I’m proud of what I’ve written, that’s enough. I can have a level of playfulness and fluidity in my music, which I think only adds to the allure.
What's a mantra you write (or live) by?
Well the one that comes to mind is the first line of my single ‘Cleo’: "Get out of my head and into my heart". Any time in my life where I’ve applied this lesson, I’ve been most true to myself. It’s easy to get caught up in one’s own thoughts, and overthinking is a specialty of mine. That’s why this mantra is particularly important for me to put into practice - I’ve begun making a conscious effort to apply these lyrics to my life on a daily basis.
Are there any other artists breaking through at the moment that you take inspiration from?
Olivia Dean! I love her voice and music so much. During lockdown she saved my sister and me - we’d have her music on repeat. I also love that she’s constantly smiling on her social media, it’s so refreshing.
Finally, we're coming round for dinner - what are you cooking?
Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m obsessed with pasta. But… to impress, I’d say pulled spiced lamb with homemade flat bread and tzatziki, along with a tahini salad. Oh and then a cheesecake (my mum’s secret recipe), which is my favourite dessert in the world… which might be quite rogue alongside the main, but I’m here for it.
'Worst Of Me' is out on 19th January 2024 via Cool Online.