By Rob LeDonne. It’s been four years since Toronto’s Francesco Yates was signed to Atlantic Records, and in the interim he’s been searching for exactly what kind of artist he wants to be. Luckily, Yates is close to figuring that quandary out with the release of his self-titled EP. Featuring a blend of styles.
The highlight of the effort is the catchy track “Change The Channel,” produced by Pharrell Williams, and features a mix of rock with subtle retro hints of old-school R&B. Here, Francesco premieres the video for “Change The Channel” and talks about the catchy track, working with Williams, and the recent wave of Toronto-raised talent.
Tell me a little about writing “Change the Channel.” It’s a great song.
It’s a close one to me and one of my favorites. It’s the first one I ever wrote with Pharrell on the first day of working with Pharrell, so it was a very joyous moment. Since that was when we met, we talked about a lot of different things — some totally unrelated to music. We talked about what I did for fun and he kind of read me up and down. The next day we sat there and he gave me an electric guitar and we ended up doing “Change The Channel.” The beauty of it is that it wasn’t overthought…we went with what we were feeling on that one. I’m happy because I think it sounds the most natural.
What’s it like working with Pharrell compared to some other random producer. I’m sure he brings a different vibe from anyone else. Is that distracting or inspiring?
You can sit with him one time to hear him talk and learn so much. He doesn’t know just about music, he knows about history and will quote things from the Bible. People don’t realize he knows a lot about a lot… way more than he would even entertain. With him, he actually knows how to arrange a song from start to finish and he knows how to place things. Most people see things as a beat, he sees it as a full composition. He approaches it from a very music-based standpoint instead of a beat or a loop. He’ll make a loop and then arrange it once it’s bounced into the track. He has great musical instincts, so it’s almost like talking to another musician. He has a producer’s edge and a musician’s edge.