Yanni Burton Combines Orchestral Influences With Modern Dance For 'Awake' Music Video: Watch

Yanni Burton
Charles Quiles

Yanni Burton

Singer-songwriter Yanni Burton grew up in Adelaide, Australia – a small town that was first put on the map as the birthplace of pop singer Sia. He spent most days with his mother in the city, but ventured to farm country for holidays with his father.

“The farm was in the middle of nowhere and I’d arrive in solid gold sneakers, booty shorts and a tank top, like I’d just come off the set of Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” Burton tells Billboard. “I loved hanging with the kangaroos and Klunk, my dad’s pet emu.”

For college, the musician found himself at the prestigious Juilliard in New York, where he studied the double bass. He holds a master’s in orchestral performance and is producer of the Salome Chamber Orchestra, where he has performed alongside celebrated artists including John Legend, Natasha Bedingfield and Rufus Wainwright. In fact, Legend and Wainwright were instrumental in shaping Burton’s sound.

“I've always had a passion for songwriting, but it was only when I moved to New York as a classical bassist that I found the inspiration to pursue it,” he says. “There, I was exposed to incredible artists, like John Legend and Rufus Wainwright, who are pushing the boundaries of songwriting and pop music. They weren’t afraid to use a classical string orchestra or arrange their pop hits for a quartet and piano.”    

That melding of musical worlds is apparent on Burton’s latest release, “Awake.”

“This song embodies a combination of my orchestral past and new beginnings as a pop artist,” he says. “It is kind of like an introduction to my past and future all wrapped up in a three-minute track.”

Shot in a 20,000 square foot warehouse in Brooklyn, the track’s accompanying music video, out today (Nov. 28), is personal and tells the story of his experiences as a gay man. “I wanted it to be an authentic representation of me and provide a story that directly relates to our community,” he says.

In the clip, Burton executes a stunning modern dance routine alongside choregrapher Reed Laplau. Laplau's own career has taken off on Broadway in productions of The Great Comet of 1812Fiddler on the Roof and the upcoming Moulin Rouge.

Check out Burton’s music video for “Awake” below.


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