In Photos

In Photos With: Francesco Yates

Tuesday 06 November 2018
Photography Damien Fry

Writing music from the tender age of 11, Francesco Yates burst onto the scene when he played guitar on Pharrell Williams’ track, ‘Gust of Wind’. In 2015, his chart-topping hit ‘Sugar’ scored him further success.

Now aged 23, the Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is opening for Justin Timberlake on his mammoth ‘Man of the Woods Tour’, a major achievement demonstrating the heights he is heading.

Ahead of the release of his forthcoming album, we managed to catch-up with Francesco to snap some shots before his Madison Square Gardens’ performance, chatting to him about his hiatus from releasing music, his latest single ‘Somebody Like You’ and exclusives into what is in store!

You attended a rock camp when you were just 11, where did your love of music and ability to perform come from? 

It started for me in the basement. I would come home from school and would play the piano teaching myself songs. I was in love with the sort of anchoring feeling music gave me. Then, when I took it to the stage for the first time, I knew music was my calling. I felt I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

You’re currently touring with Justin Timberlake, how is it going?

The fact I get to tour with someone who is one of my idols in music and is a legend, is something I’m grateful for. I get to talk to him and he’s a genuine guy. Not only that, but, it’s like going to school for me. I get to watch the best of the best and I’m grateful.

And what do you think you’ve learned from being on the road with Justin?

What I learned most is watching the big machine on this tour. The biggest thing I’m learning from him, is how to maintain your zen and not get lost in the sauce. The way JT is able to be calm in high stress situations, I realise, is an important part of an artist’s life.

You played Madison Square Garden last month, what an amazing experience – how was it? 

To be in the very place where all the music legends have played, I felt the energy there like thunder. When I went on stage, I gave it everything and I thought it was one of my best performances on tour. My keyboard player, Jonathan Gateretse and I, didn’t say a word to one another. We were so amazed that we got to play there, after recalling what we had just done over and over again. It was unreal!

Where do you draw on for inspiration for your dance-pop tracks?

I let the song inspire itself now. I get out of the way and let the song do what it wants to do! You gotta have fun writing… chances are, if you are excited by something, somebody else will be too.

You took a few years hiatus from releasing music, what was the decision behind taking this time out? 

I had to find out what I wanted out of my career. I had to regroup and figure out what type of music I felt the best releasing and I needed that time away to see things clearly.

And during this time what were you doing?

I was writing and really just discovering what type of person I was. It’s easy in the music game to lose your pacing and I thought it was very important that I had that time before getting back into it again

Your latest release, ‘Somebody Like You’, dropped in the summer, what was the process behind it? 

That song all started with the bass and the girl I saw at a club. I saw her and she was moving to a smiling groove. So, when I got home at 4am in the morning, the song came from there. It’s an odd chain of events, but it’s gotta be that way. Music happens on it’s own time.

And, can you give us an exclusive as to what’s next for you?

What’s next for me, which I’m excited for, is the release of my album. It’s a complete body of work, that I’m excited for people to sink their teeth into and see what they take from it. It’ll be good to finally establish that and show people what I’ve been wanting to for the longest time