Wednesday, August 1
With his brand new single, Toronto pop wunderkind Francesco Yates wonders, “Do You Think About Me.”
Aside from the context of the song, which begins with an enticingly catchy and funky bass line, the answer is yes: you will think a lot about multi-instrumentalist Yates and his upbeat, vibrant groove-centric soul pop as he returns with his first new music in three years.
This irresistible piece of ear candy notwithstanding, “Do You Think About Me” is important for another reason: for the very first time, this no-holds-barred, purely unfiltered vision of this prolific, one-man dynamo is free from outside additives. Every instrument, every note and even his gravity-defying falsetto is 100% Francesco Yates from conception to execution, honed from the time he was signed to a U.S. label deal when he was 16.
“I’ve grown,” says Yates, personally selected by no less a superstar than Justin Timberlake to warm up the dates of his Canadian Man of The Woods tour.
“When I was first signed, I was a deer in the headlights. Now I feel I can navigate better, not just in the music world, but in my adult life. There’s security in becoming a man, so I’ve learned from that. You can’t be afraid of the growth.”
Armed with an armada of bright, zesty and funky R&B-coated pop melodies designed to get your body gyrating, Yates has been steadfastly perfecting his craft within the confines of his Scarborough home studio.
And although he could have easily returned to those heady days when he was 16, leaning on the production talents of those who worked on his Better Be Loved EP – namely Grammy-winner Pharrell Williams (“Happy,” The Neptunes, Britney Spears, Nelly, Daft Punk, “Happy”) or Robin Hannibal (Rhye, Kendrick Lamar) – the 22-year-old has decided to trust his instincts, as evidenced by “Do You Think About Me.”
“`Do You Think About Me’ has one of the strongest hooks and hits all the marks for me,” notes Yates. “It’s a bold song that asks, ‘Are you thinking about me when you’re with your current man?’”
His mellifluous tenor and Bruno Mars optimism have worked well in the past, with those partnerships with Williams and Hannibal yielded great results: a Top 5 radio hit in Canada with “Better Be Loved;” “Call” – which has registered more than 6 million streams (he averages 252,000 monthly) and – on the extra-curricular front, “Sugar,” the triple-platinum Robin Schulz that Francesco sings and plays guitar on: a smash hit that has topped several European charts and garnered 354M views on YouTube.
“It’s interesting to be around those people to hear their perspective on music,” he notes. “Even Pharrell says, ‘If you can’t see the music video when you’re writing the song, then you’re barking up the wrong tree.’
“He sees the full picture. I see him craft these songs and I learn. You become the student and you try to soak up as much of it as you can.”
But Yates figures his apprenticeship is over and that it’s time to take the bull by the horns.
After deciding to relentlessly sculpt his muse in the tradition of one of his late heroes, Prince Rogers Nelson: Francesco spent an inordinate amount of time in recent years in his studio creating, crafting, honing and stocking his own vault with such first-rate songs like “Somebody Like You,” “Super Bad,” his Warner Music Canada single “Do You Think About Me” and “Come Over.”
Some took 20 minutes; others took seven months.
“I don’t give up easy on writing songs,” says Yates, gifted with a gliding falsetto that adds a pleasant enrichment to his melodically timeless arrangements.
“I really want to try and make every song the best I can.”
And as his production and arrangement skills arrive at the forefront, Yates is finding great personal satisfaction at building tunes from the ground up.
“The enjoyment for me is the crafting of a song: I look at it like a puzzle and it’s assembling those pieces of the puzzle that excite me,” he explains. “I do it for my own gratification, but I also consider who else might listen to it while I’m writing. If I can satisfy both functions, that’s the best feeling ever – that’s fulfillment.”
One listen to his perfectly layered songs reveals how meticulous he is when it comes to prepping his music for public consumption.
“Everything has to fit,” he explains. “There is a certain amount of art and a certain amount of mathematics to it Pay attention to the littlest details because often the magic is in the things you don’t hear.”
So, with a summer ahead of him split between the road and the studio, Francesco Yates is eager to showcase this new beginning in front of friends and fans alike – and just how hungry he is to blaze his own trails in contemporary music.
Fans will hear the full results when his debut full-length album drops at the end of summer 2018.
And he’s even taking some personal advice the legendary Paul McCartney once gave him.
“Paul told me that at the end of the day that it’s just music and that while you’re here, you may as well be working toward something and move your best foot forward.
“This is some of the best stuff I have moving forward,” Yates notes.
So, the answer to the question, “Do You Think About Me:” once you hear the music, you’ll all be thinking about Francesco Yates – a lot.