It's 'Obvi' Why 'American Idol' Alum Elliott Yamin Teamed Up With Bangladesh-Born EDM Producer Sanjoy

Kunal Agarwal
Sanjoy

Long before they met, the South Asian DJ was a fan of the season 5 finalist.

There was a connection between an EDM artist from Southeast Asia and an Idol from America even before they met to team up on the new single “Obvi.”

Sanjoy, born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and now living in San Jose, Calif., tells Billboard it all dates back to the first time he kissed a girl at a high school “Sadie Hawkins” dance. “Elliott Yamin’s ‘Wait for You’ was the song playing at the dance. I was a huge fan, so for him to be involved in this new single is crazy and surreal because the lyrics express a similar story. Stephen Rezza and I wrote the song about falling in love at first sight. We were both going through it at the time and needed to channel our feelings into a record, because those are the moments in life one can never forget and we felt that everyone could connect to the song instantly.”

Sanjoy was introduced to American Idol season 5 alum Yamin by a mutual friend, Russell Ali. “Russell and I have been friends for the better part of 10 years,” Yamin explains. “He played guitar in my touring band for the first four years of my post-Idol career. He asked me to come to his studio to meet Sanjoy and vibe with some of his tracks. I loved his energy and his music, and instantly fell in love with the demo version of ‘Obvi,’ obviously!”

Within a half-hour of meeting Sanjoy at Ali’s studio, Yamin heard the demo version of “Obvi,” with a guide vocal by Sanjoy. “It was inspiring and infectious,” says Yamin, “and once Sanjoy explained the story behind the song, it was even more relatable. I was hooked. He asked if I’d be interested in cutting it, and I happily obliged.” 

“Obvi” was recorded quickly. “From the time I met Sanjoy to finishing the vocals on the track, only five hours had gone by,” says Yamin. “It always helps to get to know who you’re recording with, and we had ample time to share stories and figure out the best way to approach the song and get to work. Sanjoy’s energy is easy to gravitate to because he’s a hard worker. The process was fun and inspiring.”

“Obvi” is Yamin’s first released work since his album As Time Goes By was issued by the Avex Music Group in Japan in November 2015. “But I’m constantly writing and recording and the wheels are always turning with new ideas for songs.”

“Obvi” is a candidate for the Dance Club Songs chart, especially since Sanjoy has already enjoyed success on that tally. His single “Slip Away” peaked at No. 14 in September 2016. How did he feel about charting in Billboard? “Being from Bangladesh, appearing on the Billboard charts seemed unattainable. First, it’s unheard of for an Indian/Bengali artist to chart. I can count the South Asians who have appeared on one hand. Second, Billboard was on the other side of the world. Getting to be on the charts seemed impossible.”

And why is the single called “Obvi” instead of “Obvious”? “Back in 2007 it was pretty standard slang to say ‘obvi’ instead of ‘obvious.’ Singers like Elliott bring back those high school memories and along with Kunal, my best friend and executive producer, we thought shortening it would give it that nostalgic, throwback feeling. And it looks even better on the artwork,” Sanjoy laughs.

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