Yumi Nu has had quite the year. She became the first Asian American curve model to grace the pages of Sports Illustrated. She's also been featured on the cover of Vogue as one of the eight models shaping the face of the industry in "Generation America." But beyond the groundbreaking year she's had for her career in fashion, Yumi is also welcoming a new beginning in her artistry as a singer-songwriter.
After an almost two-year hiatus, she feels she's ready for people to hear her songs again. This time, she's gone in a different direction, going from pop to a sound that draws from Alt-R&B and more indie influences. And her soon-to-come EP, Hajime, meaning "beginning" in Japanese, marks this sonic era.
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Earlier this year she reintroduced herself with the release of "Pots and Pans," a song about starting anew after the end of a long relationship. And on Thursday, she dropped "Bouquets," which speaks more to the themes of romance and falling in love. "'Bouquets' captivates the feeling of arriving within yourself," she described in a press release.
PAPER caught up with Nu to talk about this next chapter in her career.
It's been a big year for Yumi Nu the model. How has it been for Yumi Nu the artist?
It's been amazing. Modeling definitely had huge moments for me this year, but I've also been cultivating my music to go out into the world and that has been such an exciting process. I'm so ready for everyone to hear everything I've been working on.
What inspired you/ told you it was time to go back to the studio and make music?
For most of my hiatus, I was still writing — just not releasing. In the time that I did stop writing, it changed my joy. I didn't feel as healthy mentally. Creating is a huge part of my life and what makes me happy. It's how I express myself. I can only go so long before I cave in. I decided it was time to release music again once I had a collection of songs that properly represented me now.
How has your hiatus helped with your creative process?
I originally thought my hiatus would be simple and short, just taking some time to find new inspiration and direction, but I was very wrong. The hiatus for me was healing very painful wounds. I had and still have to work through a lot of imposter syndrome and unworthiness as an artist. At some points, it crippled me from creating and in those seasons it felt like I wasn't worthy enough of my own creative outlet. The hiatus allowed me to grow into new, healthy perspectives on creating music and what that looks like for me. I can step into this new project and season of my work with a healthier mindset now.
How do you feel like "Bouquets" represents this new era of Yumi Nu?
"Bouquets" is sexy, confident and honest. It feels like an evolved, matured version of my old sound which is how I feel stepping into this new era. I have old elements of myself just like everyone else, but I've also changed a lot, along with my tastes and instincts.
What was your favorite part about making the song?
My best friend and producer of this song—Kayhan and I were in the beginning of starting to write for this new project, and every week we would just write and make a new demo. In the song making process for me, I feel like for every certain amount of demos we make, there's one that feels absolutely magical and aligns with me. "Bouquets" was the first in our Hajime songwriting sessions that felt that way.
What's a particular detail in the song that you love?
One of my favorite details in the song is the intro. It's just a big choir of dreamy stacked vocals. Also… I love the second verse because it gets a little saucier…
How do you want people to feel when they listen to "Bouquets"?
I want people to feel sexy and confident! "Bouquets" is a first of its kind for me. I've always wanted to write something like this — something a little dark and sultry. The song is really about when I first started falling in love and my adoration for that person. Then— being mutually loved by that person awoke a new confidence in myself, a confidence that I think you experience when someone loves all of you, even the ugly crevasses of you that you didn't know could be loved. I hope that the song embodies that feeling. Fresh, exciting love.
What can we expect from the rest of Hajime?
On the rest of "Hajime", I say things that I've never really said before. I've matured a lot since my last project, so my writing and the topics I'm covering now have evolved into the woman I am today and what she has to say. I was very honest and literal in my writing on this project and it feels so good to express myself that way. Sonically, I think the songs take all the elements I love from alternative pop and r&b and create a nice blend that represents me.
Listen to "Bouquets" below. You can also stream Yumi Nu's music here.
Photos courtesy Foundation Media
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