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Bitch Be Humble: A Conversation With French Singer Yo Trane

“I hope I never let the fans down.” —Yo Trane

Just a pro-tip for any of my artist readers — I read everything you send. I don’t always respond, but I check it. I also follow-up on suggestions, especially Twitter ones. One that I recently came across was an up and coming R&B acts from France named Yo Trane. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of dude, but get to your Google machine instantly and look him up.

His debut EP Late Night Drive is beautiful — and hasn’t gone unnoticed. “Every major label has reached out and wanted to sign me, but I want to take my time with it,” he shared with me. “I’m trying to focus on the music first.”

That’s another thing that stands out about this kid; he’s incredibly humble and is here for all the right reasons. “I’m not one of those artists that are doing it for money and fame … all I care about is creating dope music.”

The mark of a true artist, for me, is knowing that if all their shine disappeared in a second, they’d still make music. Not to try and “get back on,” but because not making music hurts them on multiple levels.

He recently took some time to chat about his background, his career and more.

How’d you get into music?

I fell in love with Hip Hop and R&B music at a young age. I started learning English so I could understand what my favorite artists were saying. My mom is a great singer, so I’ve always been able to hit notes and flow on a beat cause it’s in my genes — but I wasn’t confident. I was scared of pursuing that dream.

I dropped out of college, lived in a shitty apartment, and would hang out with friends and party all the time. My life was going nowhere. I felt locked until my bro Kalim (my producer) told me I should take the music thing serious. He thought I had talent.

I started recording [raps] over his beats then let my friends and family listen to those. You know your homies are always gonna say your shit is dope. [Laughs] What mattered to me was my mom’s opinion. She said it was trash. I quickly realized rap music wasn’t for me and I should focus more on just singing.

What seems apparent, especially after watching your feature for Revolt, is your love of your music and fans. What does that stem from?

It honestly just stems from listening. My love for music has existed for as long as I can remember. I used to listen to Michael Jackson as a child, when I was sad or before going to bed. I grew up with no father, lost loved ones, experienced racism as an African kid in France, but music has always helped me. It’s like it’s been my best friend, I got attached to it. I listen to it all day just to escape reality.

This love for the fans comes from the fact that I don’t have a lot of real homies. I’m such a loner but when someone I’ve never even met shows me, love, supports what I do, tells me to keep going, it makes me feel like they’re my homies, you know? Because it’s something that even people I was cool with didn’t do back then.

I hope I never let the fans down, though.

Walk me through your Late Night Drive EP.

Kalim and I started working on Late Night Drive EP in October 2014; the project didn’t even have a title at the time. I’d show up at his crib early every morning with new ideas then we’d just sit on his couch and talk about those ideas.

My goal was to make something to listen to at night, and I wanted to keep the realness of old school R&B, but make it sound fresh and different.

I’m a perfectionist, so I always record hundreds of melodies then pick the best ones before I start writing. I would do that during the day and spend nights working on my lyrics. I’d listen to Aaliyah, Changing Faces, and other female artists. It helped me understand a woman’s vision.

Production wise, Kalim’s main inspirations were Boi 1 da and Partynextdoor. I remember seeing him watch tutorials for hours, learn how to mix and master.

When he sent me the beat to the song Late Night Drive, I knew instantly it had to be a title track. This was the one. He wasn’t feeling it, but I told him to trust me.

What’s the mantra behind it?

That EP means a lot of things to me. Mainly hope, and honesty. That’s what I was trying to give my listeners. I had a girlfriend throughout the making of the project. We’re not together anymore, but I feel like she has inspired me too. I kinda wrote about her.

“Kanye West’s album College Dropout is the reason why I started learning English.” —Yo Trane

How has your life changed since it dropped?

Since the project dropped, I finally believe in myself — and trust me that’s a huge change. I now have listeners and fans who love what I do and wait for me to drop music they can vibe to. I moved to America last year, and it’s different from where I grew up. I don’t get to see my family often which sucks, but I guess it’s temporary. I still do the same regular stuff and spend as much time as possible at the studio. I even work harder than I used to.

One of the more surprising things is when listeners learn that you’re French. Would you say your music is more influenced by the French or American scene?

My music is influenced by the American scene. Kanye West’s album College Dropout is the reason why I started learning English. I wanted to know what he was saying. [laughs] I would sing all the words, but it was still gibberish to me. African vibes influence me as well.

Are you signed yet?

I’m not signed yet. Every major label has reached out and wanted to sign me, but I want to take my time with it. I’m trying to focus on the music first.

Tell me more about Kalim.

Well, Kalim is my brother. He’s the one who made it all happen. He bought our first studio equipment, made all my beats, recorded my vocals, mixed them, mastered them, It’s way more than just producing and all this wouldn’t have been possible without him.

So, what’s next for Yo Trane?

I’ve been working on my 2nd project, and I’ll release it soon. Just trying to keep growing my fanbase.

I want readers to know I’m real. I’m not one of those artists that are doing it for money and fame. All I care about is creating dope music.

Riley About Author

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns