We had the good fortune of connecting with Yaniza and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yaniza, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Work-life balance is something that I have always struggled to master, but I’m getting better every day! When I started pursuing music, I was also pursuing a career in teaching. I do love children and being in the classroom, but society definitely scared me into putting stability over artistic creativity. So in the beginning, I would teach for 40 hours a week and spend my weekends recording YouTube covers or original songs, and playing live shows monthly. This left very little room for self-care, time with friends and family, and basic needs like sleeping and eating! I was on this sort of dual career path until this summer of 2020, when I took the leap to pursue music full-time. Obviously, the pandemic made this just a *bit* difficult. I had lots of live shows and other projects planned. With most of that having gone out the window, I did decide to stick with some teaching, but now it’s teaching private music lessons. It is still a challenge balancing this with working on new music AND saving time for self-care, but I’m better at it now than I’ve ever been! I believe that it is SO important to rest and set limits. I get so passionate about my work that I find myself updating my website for “just a few minutes” on Sunday night, until I look at the clock and it’s been 3 hours. But like I said, I’m improving and it can only (hopefully) get better from here 🙂
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I consider myself a pop singer-songwriter! My goal in writing catchy, happy lyrics is that my songs will evoke feelings of joy and courage in my listeners. My sound is heavily influenced by Top 40s Pop, which is definitely a tricky genre to try to stand out in. However, I believe that part of what sets me apart is my cultural background. I can’t name very many other Jewish and mixed (Kittitian & Dominican) pop singers who are known for curly hair and sweet ukulele vibes. Or maybe there are many, but we just haven’t gained enough recognition yet! I’m always trying to find ways to sprinkle in some Spanish and the tinyyy bit of Hebrew that I picked up in Israel when I visited! I’m super proud of how I’m able to create catchy melodies and lyrics on my own as one of my natural talents. In terms of how I got to where I am today professionally, it took a lot of tears, ponderings, breaks, Ari Herstand courses and undying ambition. I believe that it’s impossible to fail if you don’t give up, and success looks completely different for everyone, despite what social media says. I simply just keep trying new things. One of my favorite things to do is reach out to people I know who have done a better job than I have at certain things, and ask them for advice. I’m so lucky to know so many people who are willing to chat with me about their methods. This helps me overcome challenges because I’m reassured that I’m not crazy for having ambitions and that I’m not the only one struggling to reach certain goals. I’m also a fan of re-evaluating situations and re-framing thoughts (thanks therapy!) in order to come up with new plans of action and new pathways. The biggest takeaway that I always mention has nothing to do with music specifically. Be yourself. That’s it. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned and it seems so obvious and simple but it’s huge. I spent years trying to be like other artists, other youtubers, or strip away my culture to fit into other, more popular cultural modes. People can see right through it and it doesn’t feel good to do. I see the most success when I’m being 100% myself and as soon as I stray from that, it shows. I want the world to know that I have so much more to tell, through my music and my image as an artist. Even though I consider 2013 to be when I officially started pursuing music, I honestly feel like I’m just getting started 🙂
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hmm this is tricky! I’m from NYC and the one place I would NOT take a visiting friend to is Times Square!! Or Grand Central!! Everyone always wants to stay around there because it’s convenient to get back home, but there is so much more to this city than those areas where you can barely walk through those crowds. I would definitely want to show this friend the Upper West Side, where I was born and raised. There are so many cute coffee shops it’s a great spot to enter Central Park or Riverside Park. If we’re traveling to other boroughs, Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Astoria in Queens are def the places to be. Lots of awesome live music, Insta-worthy brunch spots and general calmer vibes than the rest of the city, depending on the avenue. We would HAVE come back to Manhattan to visit Rockwood Music Hall, as it’s one of my favorite venues to perform in and I love being in the audience almost as much as I love being on stage! Great sound, nice people, and delicious drinks? The best.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh mannn this is a tough one! I could go on and on about who to dedicate this too! The ONLY reason I have been successful at anything is because of my friends, family, and the wonderful creatives who work hard on my music and videos. Back when I filmed YouTube videos weekly, my friends would volunteer their time to help me film in various locations all over the city in exchange for drinks or a meal 🙂 They come to my shows and are the most enthusiastic about my music, merch, or anything I do, really! The producers, videographers, animators, editors, and more work tirelessly to deliver work that I’m satisfied with, and I am VERY picky! My booking agents who I started working with recently have already given me wonderful opportunities. I would love to dedicate my success to all of them, but if I have to narrow it down, I choose my parents. I wrote my song, “Grateful,” about them because they have been endlessly supportive in so many ways. But everyone who has helped me or picked up the phone to answer my questions deserves recognition as an integral part of my story!
Jeanne Marie Boes, Gino Orlandini, Chris Laurent, Austin Hein