Music

Interview: Yuni Wa Talks Growing Up In Little Rock, Depression And New Music

Yuni Wa is a music producer from Little Rock, Arkansas. He shares insight on growing up in the capitol city of Little Rock and how his experiences shaped who he is today, which still have a profound effect on him. Despite these things, there are many moments to be proud of.

Yuni Wa Talks Growing Up In Little Rock, Depression And New Music

Yuni Wa is a music producer from Little Rock, Arkansas. In addition to producing, he wears many hats: Live Mixer, Sound Engineer and Songwriter. Yuni Wa began making music around the age of thirteen and has since released over 40 projects since 2014 and is still at work, elevating his craft. The Yuniversal Sound has evolved and at the age of 22, he hopes to bring unique experiences to listers through his music.

One thing about Yuni Wa is that he doesn’t hold back and is very transparent. He shares insight on growing up in the capitol city of Little Rock and how his experiences shaped who he is today, which still have a profound effect on him. Despite these things, there are many moments to be proud of. He describes his sound as a constantly moving and constantly evolving diverse electronic landscape. There is no one genre that Yuni Wa is bound to, which truly makes it Yuniversal.

You grew up in Little Rock, what was that like?

Growing up in Little Rock to me was honestly rough but enlightening. A lot of the time when I was younger I felt out of place at school or when I went to events. I spent the first seven years of my life mostly moving around SouthWest Little Rock with my mom, brother, and sister and later on moved downtown. I grew up seeing the drastically different conditions of two different parts of the city, so I didn’t know what to think at first. I was confused and wondered why the conditions were so much more run down in certain parts but nicer and well kept in others. I went to Central High for most of my high school years and I pushed myself to work hard and do well and push my limits. I did it to the point where I was able to work up from regular biology and regular history to Pre-AP since I had made a goal in 9th grade to work my way up to mostly AP classes. But while I was in 10th grade I developed health problems with my skin that made me miss so much school I was kicked out and sent to Hamilton ALC (alternative learning center) where I had to get scanned everyday coming into class, wear a uniform, and I had to go to court every six months. I got drug tested and I had to be judged on if the city believed I should be put in juvenile. It created an extreme sense of depression because I felt trapped in a system that tried to act like it cared about me but really I felt like it was trying to prime me for the school to prison pipeline and I was only sixteen years old at the time when all this started to happen. It affected my outlook, far more negative than it did any good.

I ended up dropping out because they wouldn’t let me go back to Central High and I couldn’t graduate from Hamilton, but I was already deep in music so by this time I was starting to take all my pent up stress and expressing myself through music production as a way to give myself comfort. I started making music at Billy Mitchell Boys and Girls Club and honestly that was one of my absolute favorite places to go in the city when I was growing up. After school I’d go straight there to get on Reason  or record on Pro Tools. I even learned how to play Bass Guitar and the drums there and I’m thankful that I was able to be in an area where people actually wanted to see me express myself. It truly helped me.

You released a two-track EP titled “Diagrams”. What is the concept behind this project and how does it stand alone in comparison to your earlier works?

The concept for Diagrams was built around the idea at the time that I really was focusing on shifting the paradigm and creating genuinely unique music that is full of emotion and feeling. I made this record when I was in a place of feeling emotionally drained and honestly beaten down by all the things that have been happening, so it is symbolic of me resurrecting myself and fighting against stagnation. Truly striving for the ultimate pick-me-up song to bring people back to life when they feel that stagnation creeping up on them, which is something naturally everyone feels sometimes.

Diagrams stands alone in comparison to my other music releases because I really haven’t released much music in the last year because I’ve been reevaluating my sound and taking a break to find a new and different perspective on what I’ve been doing as a music producer. Diagrams is basically one of the first projects under the ‘New Yuni Wa Era’ because the old era is definitely over and my style has visibly changed a lot since I released Dawn Of The Black Wings.

When I think of hard work, consistency and dedication you are one of the artists who come to mind. I say that to say, your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and you’ve put in the time, which is beginning to open doors for you. On top of releasing a new project, you recently posted to social media about your meeting with Symphonic Distribution. What does this mean for you as a creative?

What it means for me as a creative… honestly I love being an independent music artist and also having resources and people that can help give me the information on the business and marketing side of things also. For me as a creative I need an environment where me and my art can be taken serious and Symphonic is the first distribution company I’ve ever got with and actually felt like I was a part of something and being taken serious. The environment and connection to the companies that distribute your music is extremely important. When I went to Tampa a few weeks ago for the meeting I was greeted with genuine hospitality and appreciation.

Yuni Wa exists to push creative abilities to the limits. That’s what it’s all about.

Some may have a fixed view or mindset on what a producer is and the type of sounds they create. What are some misconceptions that others have of you? To clarify, who is Yuni Wa?

Well the thing is a Music Producer arranges, writes, produces, and records songs. I’m a Music Producer, Live Mixer, and a Music Artist because I engineer, make beats and mix at shows, but I also sing and rap. People mostly know of me as a music producer because I mostly put out beat albums but I started off as a rapper originally. That’s what I wanted to do but over time my mind shifted and I started liking music production way more. But really, Yuni Wa exists to push creative abilities to the limits. That’s what it’s all about.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane. What led you to music and what is your ultimate goal when it comes to connecting with listeners?

When I was little I’d stay up late by myself watching Adult Swim and I’d be in and out of sleep but in between they would play these music bump ads and it would be the most craziest sounding shit you could ever hear. That’s how I found out about my number one musical inspiration, Flying Lotus. I also spent a lot of time in church choir and band in middle school. My grandma and her sister and my mom were all pianists so I grew up in it.

How would you describe your sound and style?

I would describe my musical style as this constantly moving and constantly evolving diverse electronic landscape that you honestly will never know what it will sound like until you hear it. I focus on doing whatever genre I like within Trap, Hip-Hop, Electronic, House, Synthpop, Funk and Rock.

I love being able to connect to people around the world with my art.

What are three things you despise and three things you love?

I despise people that think they don’t have to work hard to get what they want. I despise the idea in society where if we don’t follow the normal status quo people start looking at us funny. I despise trends.

I love creating for the sake of creating. I love human history because if we pay enough attention it tells the story of why we are where we are right now in terms of art, music, culture and science. I love being able to connect to people around the world with my art.

What type of tools or software do you use and how have your technical skills grown over the years?

Akai MPD 26 for live mixing shows. I have an Alesis V 25 and I use FL, Ableton, Logic, and Pro Tools. My technical skills have grown in such a way where I can basically use most DAWs and know what I’m actually doing because I’ve been using them for so long. So it allows for me to have a pretty well paced work flow on mostly any software.

When I was at my lowest the last time I recall it felt like I was trapped behind a glass wall that I couldn’t break myself out of.

Reflect on a time when you were at your lowest. What was that like and how did it translate through your music? What about your highest moment?

When I was at my lowest the last time I recall it felt like I was trapped behind a glass wall that I couldn’t break myself out of. I felt like I was constantly beating on problems that I had no power to change. I felt hopeless and powerless and when I make music when I’m in this state I either can’t make music at all or I make some amazing out this world shit. At my highest moments I felt like the high wouldn’t last long usually so I’d try to utilize it to the best of my capabilities in the moment by just focusing and making the highest energy songs I could make.

Your archive is quite extensive! Do you have a favorite project?

My favorite project from myself is a project called Context 4 and it has not been released yet, but it’s new and it makes everything I’ve put out in the last couple years look like stepping stones.

What’s to come for you, Yuni Wa?

Well first off I have two new albums that I’ll be dropping soon. I’ll be doing more shows around North America and hopefully getting together my first actual tour soon. I have so many plans to be honest so it’s honestly hard to say, but all I know is that I’m trying to bring some unforgettable experiences to the people that love the Yuniversal Sound.

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