By controlling our destinies, we let our voices be heard.
Francesco Yates takes the reins of his art from every angle. The Toronto-born artist amplifies his voice as not only a singer, songwriter, performer, and multi-instrumentalist, but also as a producer and label owner in 2020. After platinum plaques, over a billion streams, and the endorsement of everyone from Justin Timberlake to Pharrell Williams, he delivers a definitive statement with his independent debut EP, Superbad, released via his label, FY Records.
The move represents the apex of his world-class musicianship, sharp entrepreneurial acumen, airtight pop songcraft, and expansive vision as he properly introduces himself…
“Across the board, this first project is me saying to the world, ‘I’m officially here’,” he says. “There was a question like, ‘Who exactly is he?’ Well, I’m starting to answer that question now. I’m an explorer. I’m a writer. I’m a guy who’s trying to figure it out. I’m also like a hopeless-romantic-meets-a-scientist,” he smiles. “The emotion is there, yet I’m involved in every detail.”
A dynamic career prepared him for this moment. The Toronto native went from classical piano training and D.I.Y songwriting to landing a major label deal at 16-years-old. 2015 proved to be a breakout year. He unveiled his self-titled debut EP—helmed by co-producers Robin Hannibal and Pharrell Williams—and sang and played guitar on Robin Schulz’s global smash “Sugar.” Minted platinum stateside by the RIAA, it picked up gold and multi-platinum certifications in Austria, the UK, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Between putting up millions of streams on solo singles such as “Come Over,” “Do You Think About Me,” and “Somebody Like You,” Justin Timberlake handpicked Francesco to open up the Man of the Woods Tour in 2019.
Along the way, he wrote and recorded what would become Superbad. He personally produced three of the project’s five tracks, playing guitar, drums, and bass. He even mixed two of the five songs. Additionally, he opened up FY Records to release the music, adding his imprint to each part of the process.
“I’m using what I learned from being on the majors and applying it to my company,” he explains. “I put my stamp on it in a different way. It’s the first time in my career I’m handling everything. It feels incredible to have ownership. There’s a certain power in knowing you’re self-sufficient. I’m really standing on my own.”
Perfecting his patented alternative soul pop sound, Francesco embraced the bass like never before as well. “What if Prince and Disclosure had a baby?” he asks. “That’s what this sounds like.” Simultaneously, he threaded the punk-funk punch together with an overarching theme.
“The lyrics are a lot of personal experiences,” he explains. “They’re mostly about an ex from some odd years ago. Even though someone is not perfect and doesn’t love you in the same way, you still love her through all of that.”
The first single and title track “Superbad” struts forward on a funky bass bounce punctuated by fiery falsetto, finger-snaps, and a swaggering hook, “My girl is so Superbad.”
“It’s the story of a femme fatale you can never really get, but you don’t mind chasing,” he explains. “When the chorus hit me, I felt like I had cracked some kind of code. It sounds cinematic and represents the whole theme of the project.”
Meanwhile, the follow-up “Bad Decisions” highlights his range above neon synths, a glitchy beat, and fiery guitars. It climaxes on another ecstatic and entrancing refrain.
“‘Bad Decisions’ elaborates more on the story of Superbad,” says Francesco. “There’s a different energy and grit to it and another dirty bassline!”
He joined forces with GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Ali Payami [Taylor Swift, The Weeknd] to co-write “Queen Street Blues” and “Dirty Little Secrets.” The former shuffles along on a sunny hummable groove, while the latter nods to “112-style nineties sounds.” Then, there’s “Angel.” Over a simmering beat, Francesco’s vocal acrobatics resound as intimate verses give way to a high-register hook. He previews the entire project with a short film soundtracked by snippets of each tune.
“I always want the presentation to have a cinematic feel,” he states. “There’s a bit of symbolism. I’m growing up and changing from what I used to do and kicking off a new chapter.”
In the end, Francesco takes control of his art and allows listeners to get to know him more than ever.
“I’m emerging in a new light,” he leaves off. “I’m building on throwback vibes and going forward at the same time. I’m giving everyone a new depth—from my playing and writing to the production. I’m also really showing everyone who I am.”