Photo Credit - VIXX Photography
Yanchan is a Canadian-Tamil producer, mixing engineer, singer and South Indian hand drummer (Mrithangam) from Scarborough, Canada. As a producer and artist his unique sounds that express his Scarborough upbringing with Tamil foundations has been evident in his consistent release of solo and collaborative projects that have garnered over 1.3 million streams on Spotify. Yanchan most recently has helped build Emtee Education, which is an artist development and music education firm for artists and labels (both independent and major).
Tell us about your upbringing and how that sparked your love of music.
I grew up in a very Tamil-cultured household so my parents put me in Carnatic vocal lessons at the age of six and also put me in Bal Vikas (religious classes around the teachings of Sai Baba). It was there that I witnessed someone performing on the mrithangam for the first time and I was really fascinated by the sounds. That really sparked an interest in me to learn and that was the first moment I really started appreciating how music could make me feel.
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What is "The Scarborough Beat Tape" and why are you so excited about it?
Last year Pre COVID-19, I went on the "Oh Gawd India Tour" accompanying Shan Vincent de Paul and released an instrumental tape shortly afterwards entitled "The India Beat Tape" embodying all my inspirations/love from that tour. The success of that project really encouraged me to focus more on my production. I knew I wanted to keep putting out instrumental tapes and shed light onto places that were meaningful to me. I was born and raised in Scarborough and it's helped shape me into the man I am today. I wanted to create a project that showcased all my memories from this beautiful city.
You describe yourself as a Carnatic Hip Hop Producer. For people that may not know what a producer is, can you provide a description? And why did you specifically select Carnatic & Hip Hop as the 2 genres of focus?
A beat maker is someone who makes beats and ends it there. A producer is someone who is a part of the whole process and vision of a full song. When I work with artists, I make sure I help them carry out their vision and it's a real collaborative process. I chose Carnatic and Hip Hop because those were the two genres of music I had the deepest love for when I first started producing. My foundation in music stems from mrithangam and Carnatic Music. When I later formed a new passion for Hip Hop, it became my mission to bridge the gap between these two worlds.
You’ve had a very busy couple of years including doing a tour in India with Shan Vincent de Paul and putting out a huge summer hit in “Best Friend.” How was the experience touring? Anything unexpected?
I've always dreamt of touring and once I was out there, it was crazy. It was amazing to see how much fan love we had over there. My first ever festival show experience was our first stop of the tour and watching Shan perform and doing mrithangam raps live with him was something to remember. I'm grateful for that experience because it showed me how much work I had to do on my own to become a great performer. Doing an independent tour definitely comes with its challenges but we overcame all of them because we had such a great team.
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Who is an artist that you would love to collaborate with musically?
I'm a very big fan of Priya Ragu at the moment. From her sound to her music videos, I would love to create a record with her.
I love your videos on Instagram where you create a beat mixing various genres of music including Tamil and say hip hop. Why did you start sharing your process for doing this?
I think its important to give back to the next generation of producers as I've only come this far in my career because of watching tutorials from people I admire and that have shared their process with me. I want producers to take inspiration from my videos and create their own lane.
How has COVID affected you as someone in the music industry?
It definitely brought on a few new challenges but hey, we all have to find a way to adapt. My team and I started doing online remote studio sessions with artists which was really cool to explore.
I know historically, the creative arts were often looked down on in the Tamil community in terms of as a viable career option. Did you experience this? Do you see this changing?
Yes I did, but I don't blame some people for having that mentality. There isn't a roadmap to a certain type of salary for a musician like myself or someone in the creative arts, unlike the blueprints you may have for a Doctor or Lawyer. I've had countless conversations with people showing them there are many opportunities for musicians to thrive as a career path. Things are already changing. I see more and more Tamil artists on social media everyday and I see more parents pushing their kids to go more into these fields. It's really great to see.
How have your family and friends supported you through your journey? Did you have any doubters?
My family and friends have been there since day one. They have always believed in my talents and supported me in pursuing music as a career. It's that support system that really helped me overcome my own self doubt a lot of the times. Of course I've had doubters a long the way because what I'm trying to create hasn't been done before at a large scale but I believe in myself first and that's what matters to me the most.
What is a failure you’ve experienced in the last 3-5 years that you’ve learned the most from?
For me I've reframed my thinking of the word "Failure" to "Learning Lesson." In the past I felt like I missed many opportunities because I thought that it wouldn't lead to anywhere bigger. But now I realize you have to take every shot you take because you never know which one of those shots is what you need to really propel your career forward.
Photo Credit - VIXX Photography
In terms of your personal legacy, in a few sentences, describe how you want to be remembered by your family and friends?
I want to be remembered as someone who never stopped trying to achieve his goals and as someone who made a global musical impact. I want to be remembered as someone who helped bridge the gap between America and India.
Who is one person from the global Tamil community and one person that isn’t Tamil that you admire and why?
I really admire AR Rahman sir for his contributions to music as a whole. He brought Indian music to America and brought it to the global stage. I also really admire Elon Musk for his resilience in constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
What do you think you would tell 16-year Yanchan looking back?
Never stop believing in yourself and your vision and value the importance of building genuine relationships with people.
What is a new belief, behaviour or habit that has most improved your life?
Tracking my success. I have a daily journal I use to write down all my goals and seeing progress on paper has helped me gain even more motivation.
How would you describe the impact that the Toronto Tamil community has had on you personally and on your career?
Man, that is my lifeline. The Tamil community has always supported me since I was a kid playing mrithangam and till this day, they are the foundation of where my success stems from.
What is your favourite Tamil food (meal or dessert)?
Even though I get scared to eat it because of how spicy it is I love Kothu Roti!
What is your favourite Tamil movie?
I recently watched Soorarai Pottru and fell in love with it.
What does Tamil culture mean to you?
To me, Tamil culture represents love and unity. The amount of love, attention and care our community puts in everything we do is the reason we are still rising throughout all the hardships that are thrown our way. We stand together.
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