Tyson Yoshi is in the midst of his sold-out “Hi I’m Back” solo tour in the UK—no mean feat for a young independent artist who only made his debut in Hong Kong in September 2018.
This wasn’t the first overseas gig for the rapper and singer-songwriter. Last year, he toured Taiwan, on top of holding a mini solo concert in Hong Kong. This year, he also released a new single i don’t smoke & i don’t drink.
Part of a new generation of celebrated homegrown musical talents to have emerged in recent years, Tyson Yoshi—whose real name is Cheng Tsun-yin—has become known for his candid lyrics that explore topics such as love and loss, individualism and the struggles of growing up. Offering a mix of English and Cantonese material, the artist’s music span the genres of hip-hop, R&B and soul.
“I’m always clear about what I want to convey through my artistry,” Tyson Yoshi tells Tatler. “I might be a deviant to some, but I don’t want to produce things just to cater to the taste of the public and gain more popularity.”
“After all, an artist’s success shouldn’t be measured in terms of industry awards he receives."
What is the story behind your UK tour?
My concert was postponed multiple times in Hong Kong due to the pandemic. I didn’t have any big plans while waiting for restrictions to ease, so I decided to host the concert somewhere overseas instead.
We ended up choosing the UK as the concert location, which is perfect because it is where I spent my childhood years. I feel like I’m going back home. The name of the concert, “Hi I’m Back”, matches my idea too.
I knew TIAB [Hong Kong indie artist who Tyson Yoshi is touring with] had always wanted to travel and explore new places, and I thought about how fun it would be if I could perform and travel with my friend at the same time.
Tell us about your latest track, i don't smoke & i don't drink.
It is a song without lies. I wrote the lyrics with the idea of expressing the feelings that I’ve been coping with since a very young age: I’m not that kind of person you think I’m. People judge me without fully understanding my personality, and I hate it when people tell me they feel surprised because I don’t smoke or drink.
My musical style is unconventional and bold, but that doesn’t mean you have to look at me differently. I'm so tired of explaining it, which is why the track contains a lot of personal confessions.
How would you describe your musical style?
My musical style is always changing, depending on what I like at the moment. It’s a diverse mix of genres such as R&B, hip-hop and rap, [and is] something that truly speaks to my personality and emotions.
It wasn’t until recent years that I started to work with more mainstream artists. There are people who appreciate my songs a lot, while some may think I no longer appeal to the indie crowd because of my recent introduction to the mainstream scene.
But I don’t regret any of the decisions I’ve made throughout the years. I’m always creating music that I enjoy and would like to pursue.
What inspires you?
My work is always straightforward and created based on my feelings. Everything starts with a word or a sentence that touches me. I only make music when I’m feeling it. When bad things happen, I usually write out one sentence to describe the incident and my sad emotions.
I would then listen to some freestyle-type beats on YouTube to get some inspiration and develop the melodies. After having the theme and beats decided, I would share my work with the producer and finesse it.