Frankly, todays up-and-coming R&B divas seem to be cut from the same never-ending cloth. Their back-stories rarely differ from those of their peers, sticking mainly to either earning stripes as part of a group or through a co-sign from an industry heavyweight. Thankfully, newcomer Yara is far from typical.
The 21-year-old singer/model sports a bio all her own. Born in Mozambique and raised in Australia, Yara brings an exotic flair to the game. Now a fulltime U.S. resident, her hopes of music stardom are facilitated by hunger akin to novice rappers. You can catch her name frequently throughout the career-igniting mixtape scene, offering personalized remixes to such radio favorites as Fabolous Baby. An all Yara mixtape is being prepared for street-corner release, and, with major labels already expressing interest, her official debut album is also on the horizon.
Utilizing mixtapes and a budding modeling career - fueled by appearances in FHM magazine and spokes model gigs overseas - as starting points, Yaras track record thus far promises a bright future. In this formal introduction, AllHipHop.com Alternatives is granted a closer look at the vocally-inclined dimes hustle through her own words.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: Youve already experience success as a model. In what ways do you think the modeling can help you in the music industry?
Yara: Well, it's a great opportunity because a lot more people will see you and get to know you as a person rather than just an artist. Through acting or being a spokes model you can reach audiences that might not have access to you directly through music. Plus I think if its done well it could help increase the length of your career as an artist and show people your many talents.
AHHA: Well get into the music in a minute, but lets start off with your modeling career. Modeling brings a sense of sensuality, and there are some sexy pictures of you out there. How are you able to incorporate that sexiness into your music?
Yara: All women like to feel sexy and desirable, so I have songs that reflect that. It might be a track about sharing an intimate moment with you somebody, or it might be a track about going out all done up with your girls and getting your game on like, Look at me. [laughs] So I guess that's how I incorporate sexiness into my tracks. The tone in my voice helps a lot, too.
AHHA: Being born overseas, how has that influenced your music?
Yara: Being born in Mozambique and living in Australia had great influences on my music. I grew up listening to a lot of African music, predominately from Mozambique. I also listened to a lot of the great icons in R&B, like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson. I love artists like The Beatles and the Rolling Stones too. I listened to pretty much everything. I think that because I have had so many influences I am able to break out of the stereotypical R&B cage. The formats for all these genres of music are very different and I'm incorporating them into one that reflects me. I think it has also helped me because all the music I do now is based in the U.S. and whenever I release new music I find out that they are playing it on the radio in different countries to support me. So, that is a good feeling. It has helped me to reach people in different countries around the world rather than just being known in a certain market.
AHHA: When did you first take singing seriously? What moves did you make at first to pursue singing as a career?
Yara: I've been singing for as long as I can remember, I even have a tape of me when I was like four years old singing in a choir and you can hear me just taking over. [laughs] But I never considered pursuing singing as a career until I finished high school, when I met some friends who introduced me to the music industry. I first started recording with a producer who saw a spark and thank god he did, cause I don't know what I would do without music.
AHHA: How much of your material do you write?
Yara: I haven't done a song that I didn't write. My current material is way better than what I used to write when I first started out, but you get better with practice and as time passes I have more to write about and can write with more conviction.
AHHA: Everybody has different muses. Where do you draw most inspiration from when you write?
Yara: Mostly relationships, as you will find in my music. I draw inspiration from various parts of my life, from childhood and growing up, experiences in relationships, to just everyday living, and of course, partying.
AHHA: Not being with a major label yet, what have been the most difficult aspects of your career so far?
Yara: Believing that people will do what they are supposed to do. Trust is a big thing in this industry. You have to be able to trust the people you work with or nothing will get done. I'm very luck Chris Dwyer [C.D. King Entertainment, Corp/Blueprint Records CEO] supports everything I do, and he has faith in me. I've been burnt many times along this real long road but it helped me realize what I want for my music and I've learned some good lessons too. A lot of the major labels have been showing interest so that helps to keep me focused and it motivates me to keep my music consistent.
AHHA: What is the situation with your album?
Yara: Well, before the album, there will be an official mixtape from me, which will have all new original tracks. It will be a change up from the remixes I have been doing on a lot of the mixtapes. Then comes the album. A lot of the details are still being decided for that but the album is sounding real hot, if I say so myself. [laughs] A lot of different producers have been sending material and there will also be some features. The label situation is still being decided.
AHHA: What do you think it is that makes you unique?
Yara: Apart from my style and influences, I think because I come from a different place people will be interested in getting to know me and also my background. I have so many things to share with my fans. I'm bringing something new and fresh to R&B, because I'm a real person just like your next door neighbor, and you can talk to me and feel like you have known me your whole life. You don't have to be afraid to holler at me.
AHHA: Your song "When Will You Learn" has a real strong message. Is the song based on personal experience?
Yara: Yeah, that song is based on personal experience, unfortunately.
AHHA: What was that experience?
Yara: Basically, it's about having a friend who is rapidly losing control of her life. She has insecurities and fears, like all of us, and is emotionally weak. She sleeps with a lot of men as a form of self- reassurance, but it only makes her worse because she wakes up feeling guilty and worse than before. This girl has a self-esteem problem, and briefly in the song I touch on the fact that her behavior affects those around her in terms of people thinking that if you're her friend you must be like her. In these situations you can only help someone so much before they have to help themselves, I learned that a long time ago. Throughout the song I tell her that she needs to take a good look at herself and do something about her situation before its too late and she ends up sick.
AHHA: Is this type of uplift something you pride yourself on?
Yara: Yeah, definitely. I'm a positive person, so I want my songs to carry meanings and messages whenever they can.