LOS ANGELES — Singer-songwriter Yael Meyer is a 21st century fusion. The long-necked, doe-eyed native Chilean sings with a measured sweetness in English and Spanish while gracefully wielding her electric guitar. Her songs are currently netting millions of YouTube views in Korea, among other far-flung locales.
“It’s great when people know and appreciate your music,” Meyer says. “It comes full circle when you create something that is meaningful to you and it becomes meaningful to someone else.”
While studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Meyer met her Hungarian-born Jewish husband, Dani Endri. Together, they produce her music under their own label, KLI Records. Meyer’s sincere vocals, sing-along pop songs, folk-rock and haunting ballads have been featured in Blackberry and Ralph Lauren ads, prime time television and film.
Her song “Shed Their Fear” appeared on ABC’s “Private Practice” and “Parenthood.” The CW series, “Life Unexpected” featured “Tea for Two.” She licensed “Favorite Two,” “Used to Be,” “I Wonder How” and “All Around Me” to MTV’s “Awkward” and “All Around Me” to Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva.” And three of Meyer’s songs are part of Chilean director Nicolas Lopez’s feature film, “Que Pena tu Vida” (“F*** My Life”).
“The things that make us happy, that make us cry, feel vulnerable and alive, those human emotions are what connect us,” Meyer says. “Music is the space where we all come together to share that experience.”
She recently inked a deal with China’s Pocket Records, which will be releasing “Warrior Heart” in that market later this year. And a Chinese artist recently cut a song Meyer co-wrote with another American songwriter. Warner Music plans to release it in Mandarin.
“When I write a song, I just want to be as honest as possible and speak truthfully in the least complicated way I can,” Meyer says. “When I get into the studio, I want the music to paint a picture so that every part of your body feels something. I want it to be a sensory experience.
‘I want the music to paint a picture ‘
Currently touring the US, Meyer is slated to appear at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York City on March 9, and as part of the South by Southwest (SXSW) official showcase March 14 and 16. Between shows, Meyer shared more of her story with The Times of Israel.
How is the tour going?
I am now in LA. I have done two shows here and then I head to Boston, New York, SXSW where we will be doing three shows, and then I come back to LA for one last show before heading back home to Chile.
I will be playing songs from my previous records “Everything Will Be Alright” as well as “Warrior Heart” and some unreleased new material that will be part of my upcoming fourth studio album to be released later this year.
What motivates you as a singer/songwriter?
I love the process of writing and creating new material and watching it come together. I love being in the studio and producing, and I also love co-writing with other writers. I usually write all my records on my own and co-write for other projects, TV projects or for other artists, but for this record I will probably include some songs I have co-written with other artists as well as songs I have written on my own.
How different is working in Chile compared to the United States?
The music scene in Chile is very small but growing. It’s also very effervescent. There are new bands coming up all the time and people are excited to make music and share it. There are not as many live music venues as you would hope, but there are several important and big music festivals happening every year.
People love music festivals in Chile and people from all over South America come to experience Lollapalooza Chile every year. We are lucky that the Chilean government has a grant program in place to develop the arts so that up and coming and established bands and artists can apply for these grants and get funding for touring and creating new material. This has also helped me tour and get my music to new places.
It is exciting to work in Chile because since the industry is small we have a chance of making a difference and being part of developing the industry, nurturing it, helping it grow and creating new opportunities. It is also what makes it extra challenging.
What are some of the joys and hurdles in creating a compelling video?
All the videos were very fun to create. I enjoy the process of making something come together out of scratch… videos are particularly challenging to me because it is not my art medium. I don’t think in images, I hear sounds. So it’s a very different thing to create music than it is to create something visual. It’s a different language.
The latest two videos that I made were “Warrior Heart” and “The Hunt” and both were radically different experiences. For “Warrior Heart,” I worked with an amazing team of visual artists and animators. Animation takes a lot of work to put together. The shoot took over a week. I recorded “Warrior Heart” six weeks after I had my second child, so during the shoot I was alternating between breastfeeding and shooting full days for an entire week. But it was an amazing collaboration and something I am very proud of.
‘We had to take a two-hour horseback ride into the mountains to get to our location’
“The Hunt” was also an amazing and grueling experience. We shot the video in the Andes Mountains in Chile, which are very close to my heart. I was very happy to make nature such an integral character in the story line for the video.
We shot the video in two days. The first day was an 18-hour shoot with a three-hour drive to and back from the location, nestled in the middle of the mountains, with very cold temperatures, high winds and sand storms. The second day of shooting we had to take a two-hour horseback ride into the mountains to get to our location. After the shoot, I could barely move for a few days.
How do you identify Jewishly?
To put it simply, I identify as a Jew. I don’t really like labels, especially within the Jewish world. All they do is divide us. I feel the unity of all of us as one people, brothers and sisters, and a heritage of thousands of years of wisdom, struggle, beauty and confusion. We all connect to Judaism differently and I think that is the beauty of it as well.
I grew up in a very traditional environment in Chile, where being Jewish was very important in a cultural sense. From a very small age, I connected to Judaism in a spiritual way and I still do. As I grew older I made a choice to keep kosher and observe the holidays and take on other observances, but to me these things are personal and not what is most important. Judaism, to me, is mostly about bringing love and unity into the world, respecting others, trying to bring justice into every situation whenever possible and working on being a good person all around.
You perform in both English and Spanish. What’s Jewish about your work?
The messages of love and unity seep into my music as well as my own personal connection with The Source of Everything. Ultimately, I want to make music that is universal and is able to transcend borders, religions, countries and cultural divides and connect with people from all over the world in a deeper way.
Any plans to perform in Israel?
I haven’t had the honor yet of performing in Israel, but I certainly would love to do so in the near future. I tried to book a tour with Israel dates about a year ago, but for several reasons it just didn’t work out at the time. I hope that the right opportunities come up so that we can make it out there soon and share music with my brothers and sisters in Israel.