Born in Santiago, Chile, Yael Meyer began writing original music at the age of eight. About a decade later, she attended the Berklee College Of Music on a scholarship. While living in Boston for Berklee, Yael wrote and produced her debut album, Common Ground, which Rolling Stone Chile would rank as one of the year’s top 50 albums. Rave reviews also followed for 2009’s Heartbeat EP, as recorded in Los Angeles, as well as 2014’s Warrior Heart album.
Yael’s music has been featured on a variety of television shows, including Private Practice, Drop Dead Diva, Teen Mom and Life Unexpected. More rave reviews have come from NPR, The Wall Street Journal and Entertainment Weekly; Rolling Stone Argentina named her one of the five female Chilean musicians to know. Overseas in Korea, Yael has charted two Top 5 singles, in addition to penning the theme to a major television drama. All while releasing her music through her own label, KLI Records, which is set to release a new album by Yael in the near-future.
Before playing SXSW in Austin, Yael will be playing live in New York City on Mar. 9 at Rockwood Music Hall; she will also be part of a SOFAR Sounds show at a to-be-determined venue on Mar. 8. Downtown spoke with Yael about her history with New York and what else she has coming up. More on Yael can be found at www.yaelmeyermusic.com.
Where was your first live performance in New York? What do you remember about it?
Yael Meyer: My first performance in New York was at Makor on the Upper West Side about 11.5 years ago. It was a very special night filled with many friends and loving faces. The place was packed and we had a really great show that night. You can watch footage from it on YouTube. Archive from the vault.
Is performing for New Yorkers especially different for you?
YM: I lived in New York for about 6 months after I got out of school, so New York has a special place in my heart. It was home for a transitional period of time in my life and I have fond memories, so playing in New York always takes me back. In a way it’s coming back to one of my homes for a little bit.
What’s the music scene like in Chile?
YM: The music scene in Chile is very small but growing. It’s also very effervescent. There are new bands coming up all the time and people are excited to make music and share it. There are not as many live music venues as you would hope, but there are several important and big music festivals happening every year. People love music festivals in Chile and people from all over South America come to experience Lollapalooza Chile every year. We are lucky that the Chilean government has a grant program in place to develop the arts so that up and coming as wel as established bands and artists can apply for these grants and get funding for touring and creating new material.
I know you lived in Los Angeles for a while, what inspired your move there?
YM: I can’t say for sure what inspired me to move there. I had never really been to or experienced Los Angeles before my move, so it was all more of a gut decision than anything else. I knew I wanted to pursue my career as a musician, artist and songwriter and it seemed to me that there were three cities where that would be possible: Nashville, New York and Los Angeles. I had lived in New York and tried that out for a bit, and felt that maybe Los Angeles would be a good place to move to and pursue this dream.
Do you have a “home” venue in California?
YM: I think The Hotel Cafe is for many in the indie L.A. scene the hub for folk/indie music. I have played there various times throughout the years, but I don’t know if I have a home venue. The truth is I have played in many places in L.A. and I like them all for different reasons.
Where are people more likely to pronounce your first name correctly: L.A. or Chile?
Aside from this upcoming tour, what’s coming up for you?
YM: I am working on a new album. This will be my fourth studio record and I’m as excited about it as I always am with every new album I write. I love the process of writing and creating new material and watching it come together. I love being in the studio and producing and I also love co-writing with other writers. I usually write all my records on my own and co-write for other projects, TV projects or for other artists, but for this record I think I will include some songs I have co-written with other artists as well as songs I have written in my own. I am very proud of this album and I am very excited to share it with people.
Is there a career accomplishment of yours that you are most proud of?
YM: I don’t know if I can pick one. We work so hard in this business for every little accomplishment so there are several milestones that I am grateful and proud of. Playing Lollapalooza is one of them, being able to travel to Australia to write is another as well as all the TV placements we have gotten and every single e-mail or fan post is an accomplishment to me. When you hear back from fans who have made the music you make a part of their lives and they let you know how your music has touched them that is fuel to continue creating and working hard, but I think for me it also all comes down to the meat and bones and writing a new song that I feel strongly about and getting in the studio to record it is in itself to me always an accomplishment.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
YM: I have two kids and I like to spend time with them as much as possible. I also like to go to the movies, work out, do yoga, spend time in nature, travel, meet new people, have interesting conversations, and read and learn as much as I can about science, the environment, different cultures, women’s issues and the world in general.
What was your favorite album of 2016?
YM: Ingrid Michaleson’s “Hell No.”
Is there something you wish more people knew about Yael Meyer?
YM: I don’t know if there is one particular thing. I think the music says a lot about me already.
Finally, Yael, any last words for the kids?
YM: Stay weird, be smart, be kind, stay curious, do what makes you happy, create something new.