Snapping his fingers in perfect cadence, Jasper Sloan Yip tests out the interview recorder amid the jangle of espresso cups and beer bottles at a busy East Vancouver café. Despite being interviewed at 6:30 p.m. on his birthday, the 26-year-old’s relaxed posture and unassuming smile project the illusion of having all the time in the world. Only two hours ago his band finished recording their upcoming 2013 album Foxtrot.
Jasper was born and raised in Vancouver. He dedicated the first paycheck from his high school job to purchase a four-track recorder, and he quickly amassed an entire album’s worth of music. Despite his natural gravitation towards songwriting, Jasper claims he never saw music as his destiny. “I never thought of myself as a musician. But I had all of these songs, and I wanted to release them. I had no intention of being a musician after that.” Three albums and nine years later, clearly fate had other plans. After making The PEAK Performance Project’s top 20 in 2011, he achieved both local and international play on radio stations across the globe.
Though the genre “pop” is often ascribed to his folk music style, Jasper’s raw, introspective lyrics build on thoughtfully crafted metaphors and emit a vulnerability generally lacking in current pop music. “I can’t help but write about really personal things,” he says. “That took a long time to get used to. I’ve gotten into some trouble with people for writing about them so directly.”
Foxtrot, in particular, is a very personal album, which concentrates almost exclusively on his past relationship with the band’s female vocalist/violinist. His previous album, Every Day and All at Once, which he describes as being more commercial, focused on weaving together a musical tapestry of self-reflection, homesickness, and discovery. “I think Foxtrot is really different. It’s weirder,” he laughs. “I could have made this album a lot more commercially viable, but I don’t think I would have liked it as much.”
At this point in his career, Jasper believes the most important thing he can do for his music is to write for himself first and others second. As his band’s music has evolved, its members have changed as well—only three original band members remain. “It’s hard to find the right people,” Jasper says, “but I feel like the ones I have on my team right now are just the best people I could have.”
Foxtrot is set for release early this summer before the band embarks on a cross-Canada tour in August.