Biggest Mouth: Q&A with Ysa Yaneza, Photo Gallery

Q&A from Alexa Rixon, Staff Writer

Photos taken by Elise Bang, Social Media Editor


Ysa Yaneza at Biggest Mouth 2017, at Metro, 3730 N Clark St., April 20

Ysa Yaneza at Biggest Mouth 2017, at Metro, 3730 N Clark St., April 20

Launching her first music video "Tea" in March, it was vital for Chicago-based musician Ysa Yaneza to film back home in Singapore. After only a month of its release, she debuted in front of nearly 400 people who attended Columbia College Chicago’s Biggest Mouth competition on April 20. Columbia's Biggest Mouth is a competition, or battle of the bands, for a position to play at Manifest Urban Arts Festival at the end of the year, also put on by Columbia College Chicago. Shredded Staff Writer Alexa Rixon sat down for a talk with Ysa Yaneza.

Shredded: What inspired your "Tea" song?

YY: I wrote "Tea" last year in May. It was my summer break and I was drinking a lot of tea with my brother, we would just chill a lot, listening to a lot of songs from the 90s. I loved how they were so fresh, innocent and catchy. I wanted to make something like that. I also tend to write songs about something I feel strongly about. At that point I had a crush on someone so I ended up writing "Tea." I wanted to inject influences from the 90s and current music so that people could still have it be a familiar sound to them.

Shredded: What was performing like for you?

YY: It was a blast...for "Tea" I messed up the first drop but fixed it quickly. I think for performances it’s really just going with the flow, you really don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s like life. Yeah you might mess up but you have to learn how to pick it up from there. I think that’s what I learned last night, the nerves will get to you but you have to learn how to pick yourself up from it.

Human Bloom & Ysa Yaneza's guitarist



Shredded: Was this your first time performing in front of a crowd like this?

YY: Yeah. First time performing "Tea" actually. I’m just thankful for the Student Programming Board, Columbia for giving me this opportunity. I heard 60 bands auditioned for Biggest Mouth and only 12 got in so that’s just crazy. I feel that they believed in me, that’s why they gave me this chance, so I really wanted to be all out. Coming from Singapore it’s a big thing for me to say I performed at the Metro in Chicago.
Shredded: What makes you want to represent Singapore with your music?

YY: I think every country deserves the attention, but I’m from Singapore so that’s why I feel like I need to represent. It was very important for me to shoot my music video back home with my friends from back home. Aside from being my friends, they are people I respect as artists. I really wanted to show that to the rest of the world. Here’s an opportunity not just for me to shine but for all these other artists to shine too.

Lil Kydd & Anna Agosta


Shredded: Would you say it’s a dream come true?

YY: I remember last year I was at Biggest Mouth, standing and watching [thinking] "I’m going to perform next year, I want to be on that stage." I really pushed myself in one month. I really only started learning how to do it in March, and in one month I was like I think I’m ready. I think if you really put your mind into it, you’ll do it.
Shredded: Does the person you wrote about know?

YY: He knows, and I heard that he said he was honored to be the inspiration for this song...[music] is a big release for me. There’s so many things I feel and I don’t know how to express them other than a melody. I made an art piece out of my emotions and I want to keep doing that.
Shredded: Any changes?

YY: The "Tea" I performed last night, I had to actually change the original version to make it more hype live. For a slow song you want people to feel emotional and have an emotional experience so I was just envisioning that. I didn’t have any dancers for this one. Changing the beat just a bit but still keeping it to what people know it as. [My crush] wasn’t there, he couldn’t make it. But what [our friend] did was he facetimed him and he saw the entire performance. [My friend pointed at the phone saying] ‘this is the guy!’

Beekay & Capital Soiree

Shredded: How did that make you feel?

YY: I’m moving on. I actually changed the last two lines of "Tea." Originally it was "stay with me, and I could let you know." But for the show, and maybe all my future performances I changed it to "stay with me, or I could let you go." I changed it because I wanted it to reflect what I’m feeling and what I’m going through right now.
Shredded: You said "Tea" wasn’t just about a crush?

YY: I wrote this song because I had a crush on somebody but then I realized that it isn’t just about romantic feelings. It’s just about wanting to be intimate with someone and it doesn’t have to be in a romantic or sexual way. I would think about someone I lost when singing "Tea" because it’s impossible to be with him as he’s no longer here.
Shredded: Why tea not coffee?

YY: Tea is the kind of thing that you have with someone you already know. You’re just chilling with them, it’s the afternoon and you’re just having a cup of tea. Coffee’s kind of like when you wanna get to know someone. Tea is intimate.

JuiiX & Forever Kyra


Shredded: Tell me about your dancing.

YY: I was just feeling the music and [am] very inspired by Britney Spears. I watch a lot of 90s groups and the Spice Girls aren’t the best singers in the world but people love them because they have this energy, this personality. I’m not the best singer, I know, but I’m being me and I make fun music so there it is.
Shredded: Anything else you'd like us to know?

YY: I’m really finding myself as an artist. Some just play the entire time, others just dance and sing but I wanted to do both. And I feel like it’s me. That’s what I want to be, I don’t want to hide anything from myself. I want to show people who I am.


You can find Ysa Yaneza's music on Soundcloud and Bandcamp, and follow her on Instagram @ya_nezty.

Contact Alexa by email at

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