The collaborative approach to music making of YellowStraps was sparked by a lockdown project Yellockdown for which the band teamed up with musicians from across the globe to write and produce a song in 24-hour writing sessions via Zoom. “It gives you more creativity because there is always something different, something new compared to your own sound. You can combine opposite sounds to create a new one,” Yvan says about working in collaborations. In that, the most difficult thing is balancing the individual styles and finding musical matches, he finds.

To be able to do that, it is important to be sure of one’s own style. Yvan explores that on his debut record, tentacle, which merges Neo-Soul and RnB influences heavily inspired by the UK scene. Released under the name YellowStraps, the artist describes the solo debut as a “more hybrid than ever”. He mixes all kinds of styles and draws inspiration from different sources to create his own sound.

“The album talks about the complexity of love and relationships and the feeling of being stuck in an uncomfortable situation, like by tentacles and you are struggling to get out. In another way, you can also see it as a hug. I wanted to depict that paradox of love on my album. If I had to summarize the album in only a few words, I would say: Love is a torture, but I still love.”

Between joy and heartache, YellowStraps shares his most personal work to date on tentacle. It is the pivot of the previous EP releases, Blame and 2020’s Goldress, which exorcised outbreaks of anger and somber reflections about failure. Its Neo-Soul style is hitting a fertile ground in the national and international music scene, and even though it is not one of the most popular genres in Belgium, where it competes with French rap, Yvan sees more and more people getting interested in the softer sounds. “I have always been inspired by the UK music scene where there are a lot of amazing Soul artists.”

Drawing inspiration from the international scene, YellowStraps also sings in English rather than in his native French. “French is my main language, but it is still harder for me to write in French. Mainly because I have always listened to English music since I was a kid. I am not used to French music. I don’t have the codes of French music.” With the use of the soft textures of the English language and collaborations like with the rapper Sam Wise, YellowStraps fits in neatly with the rising scene of UK artists.

tentacle is out 27th of January via Haliblue Records.

Every Monday, the NBHAP staff brings an exciting new artist to your attention along with a 30-track-strong Introducing Playlist over on Spotify. Feel invited to follow the playlist and give these talents a spin.

This time, YellowStraps has taken over the curation and the playlist includes Soul and RnB gems from the likes of Galimatias, Joesef, and more. Tune in below.