Sebastien Yatra | New ‘Dharma’ Album and Video — Flaunt Magazine
Alright, let’s go back in time. How did you start making music?
I started making music when I was 12. I was in English class and they gave us a project, where we either had to write a song, or change the lyrics of an existing song, or write a new one. And I changed the lyrics to Daniel Powter’s Bad Day, and I remember that I felt really good changing the lyrics, like I already had an understanding of meters and melodies, and which ones to change and which ones shouldn’t not change, and how to formulate lyrics and how to make them rhyme. It was a really good exercise, then I sang for the class, and people really liked it, so I decided that I should write more songs.
Then I went to Rodolfo Castillo’s recording studio. He’s a producer in Miami that my uncle Rafa knew. And I wrote my first real song with him, it was called Convencete, and it was so dramatic. And that’s how I started as a composer.
Where do you get inspiration for your music and lyrics?
Reality inspires me a lot. Obviously there are things that are invented in a song, or that are from the past, or emotions and sensations that are not 100% mine, but I tell true stories, mine or those of others , because I like songs to have a first and last name, and to talk about something specific. So sometimes in a song I’ll tell a story and include a detail that doesn’t concern me, but it’s a detail that someone told me at some point, even if it’s just a sentence, it’s something that happened in real life. There was. It’s never made up, I always leave someone’s truth out there. And if it happened to someone, it could have happened to someone else too.
What does your creative process look like when you create a song?
I like to find a harmony that I like first, chords that I like, and a concept. And I always like to have a conversation before I sit down to write. ‘What do I want to talk about? What emotion do I feel from these sounds? And then I start to think about the best way to share this emotion. Great songs always show up when I’m not thinking about the end goal, but when I’m really trying to express myself and tell a story. I also always save things on my phone. People who write with me call me “the recorder”, because I’m always, always recording. I’m a perfectionist and I think specific inflections are extremely important, like an extra pause in a phrase or a sudden note change that made me feel something. That’s why I always want everything recorded, so that when we prepare to record the final version, the magic details don’t get lost, because the magic is in the details.
I also like to improvise, and when I really feel my emotions, that’s when the best things come out. Most of the songs on the new album are really improvisations on my part that we then sat down and finished writing. They always started with an improvisation session. For example, Adiós, Pareja del Año and Amor Pasajero all started as improvisations.