Yoshi Flower is “just figuring it out” right now. But listeners will agree: So far, so good.
Before dropping his latest single, “Just On Drugs,” Yoshi spoke with Billboard about what he listened to growing up, being compared to Lana Del Rey and sleeping with his guitar in his bed.
From Toronto, ahead of a show with Elohim with whom he recently released piano-hymn “Panic Attacks,” Yoshi is grateful for the phone call, as it’s something to do. “I’ve never been on a tour and I didn’t realize how much waiting around there is,” he explains. In between some conversation, Yoshi faintly strums his guitar. It’s the one item he says he keeps with him all the times: “If I have space in my bed, I sleep with my guitar.”
Listening to the boomy singles he’s released, Yoshi’s sound is far from that of a soloist with a guitar. The Fader spoke of “synths that sound like elephants” on his first single, “Movies,” a song they called “early Lana Del Rey except if her partying involved EDM.” (“I wouldn’t disagree with that,” Yoshi says. “I really like how she’s able to build a world that is uniquely her own, but still has very distilled familiarity.”) His newest track, “Drugs,” gives off more of a club vibe than an acoustic show.
But he’s not concerned with fitting into any genre, which might be why it’s so hard to peg down Yoshi’s sound. It’s at once chill and hip-hop, melodic and bombastic.
“I don’t see why I can’t be equal parts Zen and ratchet,” says Yoshi, who meditates every morning. “Basically my constant thought is, like, being enlightened, but also being fucking iced out in diamonds.”
His mindset is evidenced in such lyrical highlights as “Show up to the rave/ Shake until my pain erases” in “Drugs” and the perfectly put “I just got my heart/ Wear it like it’s Gucci/ Bougie but it suits me” in “Movies.”
“I’m just trying to be myself for better or worse. If I’m hated for it or if I can connect with people for it, that’s dope,” says Yoshi.
The lyrics and the composition of his music are direct representations of Yoshi’s varied musical interests while growing up. “I’d listen to 2Pac and I’d listen to Metallica and I’d listen to Bob Marley and I listened to, like, Oasis and Biggie,” he says. On writing his own music now, with those influences behind him, Yoshi says “it’s impossible to not have threads from really drastically different boxes that are tying your knots together.”
Those threads also come from growing up in Detroit, with parents involved in different aspects of the music industry, and listening to dance pioneers like Moodymann, Carl Craig and Kevin Saunderson before transitioning to artists like Diplo and Mura Masa and Griz.
In tying all of his knots together, Yoshi’s making an attempt to “nail closed the coffin of the genre and certain types of archetypical identities.”
He’s doing a good job at it, too. While his singles have some softer moments, such as the opening to “Drugs,” which asks, “Are we here together/ Are we all alone?” over only his guitar, they give way to an indiscriminate mix of glitchy beats and of hip-hop rhythms that could attract fans of The Weeknd, Odesza or BØRNS.
“My intention is to like weave [these threads] all together and to continue to make it more OK to be whoever the fuck you want to be in a safe way and enjoy this shit while you’re here,” Yoshi says. “It’s my small contribution for now.”