R.I.P by YawnyBlew is exactly what we needed before Halloween this year.
YawnyBlew is the enigmatic brainchild of Dominican-America songwriter John Gonzalez. Making his debut in 2020, YawnyBlew has released a steady stream of singles through the quarantine mixing R&B, Pop, Hip-Hop and House music and exploring themes of identity, love and nostalgia.
YawnyBlew’s songwriting has been featuring on FOX, HBO and SlayTV as well as covered in RollingStone, Billboard and Paper Magazine. In 2019 he scored his first Grammy nomination as a background vocalist on H.E.R’s “Hard Place” and is currently developing music with artists on Republic Records under Harold Lilly and Sean Hamilton.
“R.I.P” is the title of his next single and debut EP. The record was produced by BlvkM0nd4y and recorded in the home of Rodney Jerkins during the summer of 2017. While BlvkM0nd4y pulled inspiration from Eric B. & Rakim’s “Mahogany”, YawnyBlew channels the ambient vocals of James Blake and Frank Ocean on this tale of loss and longing. The song was initially intended for The Weeknd and was later shortlisted for Songland before Yawny decided to keep it for himself.
The song starts with remnants of the chorus in a high pitched tone, leading directly into the raw vocals YawnyBlew blesses us with for the rest of the track. You can hear the emotional texture in his voice in the verses and the chorus, beautifully stacked with harmonies on the lead vocal. I really adore the chorus in this song, as it keeps coming back for more to sing along. This song was a perfect release for around Halloween, and we are more than thankful that YawnyBlew dropped a song so fire for us. Definitely a must add to all your Halloween and r&b playlist needs!
Check out our exclusive interview with him below!
How did you come up with the concept of this song, and how did you decide on the theme of your cover art?
The song was written in 2017 for an artist that Rodney Jerkins was developing. He asked us to come up with some ideas for him. My producer, Sean Hamilton, started playing around with this drum pattern that felt really dark and sad. I’m a big fan of James Blake so I kept thinking “what would James blake sound like over this beat”. That was the foundation for the verses. From there the song sort of developed on its own. Rodney passed on it and it almost went to the television show Song Land. Eventually when I started working on my album, I realized it was a perfect fit with the sound Sean and I had been cultivating.
The cover art was inspired old horror movie art films. We wanted something gritty and dark and created this “character” using a scarf I found while cleaning out a closet for my mom last Christmas. The overall idea was to create something that felt sonically in line with the song and would work for the Halloween season since I knew I wanted to drop it in October. I also shot a video with the same feel and aesthetic. Shoutout to my partner and creative director Juss Thrasher for helping me execute the vision.
What is your favorite part about this song?
My favorite part of “R.I.P” is the chorus. It’s almost an anti-hook. The song feels like its building to this big hook and then it kind of drops, but has so much anguish and passion and tension in it at the same time. The sentiment and energy feels big and all consuming, but the hook almost feels buried. For a song called “R.I.P” I thought that was kind of cool and meta.
Where did you record this song, and what are the vibes like in the studio with you?
We recorded “R.I.P” at Rodney Jerkins home studio. It was a garage he converted to a studio space. The room is really cool because it almost feels like a church. It had a lot of wood fixtures and high church like ceiling. And the vocal booth looked like a confessional. At the same time he has a wall full of keyboards and neon lights so it was really cool. We worked out of there for about two years. During that time I worked on songs for TV show Empire and got to sing background on H.E.R’s “Hard Place”, so honestly it felt like home. The people I met in that room have become family so the vibe was always fun and productive.
Was this release cathartic for you?
Yeah for sure. I am super happy that it’s in the world. I think it’s the oldest song on my project so I’ve lived with it the longest. So many people love the record so I wasn’t really worried how it would be received, I was just more anxious to get the visuals right. I am super proud of what we can up with and presented.
What keeps you inspired and motivated?
My team, my family and my love of music. Collaborating and meeting amazing people keeps me inspired as well. I won’t lie, some days it is really hard. Creating art can be very consuming with little pay off. By surrounding myself with people I love working with, it makes it worth it.
What can we expect next from you?
I’ve been writing a ton for other artists and cannot wait for those songs to come out. I will also be releasing more music in 2022 including a full-length debut, a sequel to our LOFI ep and some songs in Spanish. Always looking for more people to collaborate with so I encourage anyone to shoot me a DM and let’s talk.
What other artists are you listening to right now?
Is it wrong that I go back and forth between Yebba and Zack Fox debut albums? Complete polar opposites but they’re both my favorite projects at the moment. Like seriously, I blast both at aggressive levels and back-to-back Haha. I also saw Tinashe in concert recently and have a new found appreciation for her music and art, she really is brilliant. Outside of that, Doja Cat and Lil Nas X albums get some spins too. I usually feature my favorite songs on my playlist Yawny & Friends on Spotify.
Thanks for taking the time to answer those questions for us!
Be sure to stream “R.I.P” by YawnyBlew on all platforms now, and follow him on social media below!
Written By: Bryce Quartz