“Kim’s clear tones hit you from the very first note she sings. Her voice reminds me of the timbre of Eva Cassidy mixed with the breathiness of Sarah McLachlan. In a word, beautiful.”
So started Ruth O’Brien’s BMA review of the ukulele-wielding songstress Kim Yang and her Ocean of Mind EP (which you can read in full here). That was some time ago, so we thought we’d pop in with Miss Yang and show why this talented Canberra is one to engage with.
Describe your sound:
People have called my voice ethereal, soothing, and moving. Personally, I think my music is honest and introspective. I tend to write stories from my personal experience, so sometimes it’s a bit dramatic!
Who/What are your influences, musical or otherwise?
Musically, I love the inventive soundscapes of Bon Iver, the single guitar style of Jose Gonzalez, and the big blues sounds of Lake Street Dive. Lyrically I am really moved by performers like First Aid Kit, Lisa Hannigan, Lana Del Ray and Patty Griffin.
What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had as an artist?
I love when I really connect with my audience. One time while busking at EPIC, a lady gave me a sketch she had drawn of me while watching me sing. I was so moved. I still have the picture framed at home. Later when I was trying to choose the art for my first EP, I reached out to the lady for ideas. She listened to my songs and painted the beautiful water colour that is now the album cover.
Tell us about one of your proudest moments?
Playing at the National Folk Festival last year for the first time is something I will never forget. It was my first festival gig and it happened just before I launched my first EP. It was an amazing experience to have a big, attentive crowd cheer for my original songs. It was a really proud moment that felt like a reward for years of hard work. I never thought I was good enough to be on that big stage, but I realised that I had been putting so much work into improving my craft day by day, and I deserved the spot.
I also feel proud to now be able to help other people on their musical journeys. I recently started tutoring a ten-year-old boy in ukulele. I felt so happy when I saw him nail a difficult song that I was teaching.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to record at least two more songs this year and release a second EP. I’m also looking at putting out more regular song covers and writing a bunch of new music. Like everyone, my plans for the year were a bit sidetracked by COVID-19, but I’m feeling positive and looking forward to a big second half of 2020.
What makes you laugh?
Well, I smile a lot when I watch videos of animals! I never get tired of watching cute animal videos online. I always smile when I see a roo or a wombat in the wild, or when my cat Bella does something stupid.
What pisses you off?
I feel annoyed when people underestimate me in my ability, or assume that I am just another person who plays music as a hobby. As someone with English as a second language, I sometimes feel that people look down on me when I make mistakes.
What about the Canberra scene/the music scene in general would you change?
I wish there was more of an audience in Canberra for female singer-songwriters. We have some incredibly talented women in Canberra, but it’s really hard to get people out to see them. People tend to be more interested in watching well known bands with big crowds. That’s why I organised an event this year at the Polish Club for International Women’s Day. Thankfully it was just before COVID-19 lockdown! We had a great event, with a great turnout, which shows the audience is there, we just need to work harder to connect with them.
I also wish that more people treated musicians respectfully as a profession. Musicians don’t just go play gigs for fun. We work hard on perfecting our craft, writing, and promoting new music, and teaching others. There is a lot of work behind the scenes that people don’t appreciate.
I also wish that Canberra musicians valued themselves more in terms of the amount of work we put into towards a job or a show. Whether you are a professional, semi-professional or casual musician, you should back yourself when encountering unreasonable treatment. I believe our work is worth something more than exposure: we deserve tons of coffee, wine, and meals or even better, proper payment.
What would you like to plug?
I am starting a Patreon page where my subscribers can engage with my work. Like all musicians, I lost a lot of income from the lockdown, and had to think of creative ways to get my music going. I set up Patreon as a way of funding my next EP, and building an even closer connection to my audience. I have also been playing some live streamed shows on my YouTube channel and Facebook during this lockdown. People can put the show on their TV screens and interact with me via the chat room.
My Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/kimyangmusic
My YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/kim013523