Jonah Yano

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Singer and songwriter Jonah Yano introduced a smooth, jazz-inflected soul-pop further tinged with hip-hop and electronic elements on his 2020 debut album, Souvenir. The lengthier follow-up, 2023′s Portrait of a Dog, leaned harder into his love of jazz with help from producer BadBadNotGood.
Born in Hiroshima, Yano emigrated to Vancouver with his mother in 1998, when very young, after the separation of his parents. At the age of six, his grandmother introduced him to the piano; later, he picked up the guitar and started writing his own songs. In 2016, he began recording demos on his phone; moving to Toronto, he started putting songs online and immersed himself in the thriving local music scene, gradually honing his skills. His first recorded appearance was in 2018, when he was featured on indie pop-rap duo Moneyphone’s track “On Lock.” Shortly thereafter, he released his own debut solo single, “Rolex, the Ocean,” on which his signature sound arrived fully formed: smooth, jazzy soul-pop set to hip-hop-style beats, topped with Yano’s high-pitched, impassioned vocals. In 2019, he signed to Innovative Leisure, which released his debut EP, Nervous. On it he collaborated with labelmates BadBadNotGood and expanded his sound with more electronic elements. The following year saw the release of Yano’s debut full-length, Souvenir. A deeply personal work, its centerpiece was “Shoes,” a song originally written and recorded by Yano’s father, Tatsuya Muraoka, in the ’90s, and completed by Yano following their 2019 reconciliation.
Yano rejoined Badbadnotgood in the studio to co-produce his next long-player, early 2023′s Portrait of a Dog. Part a family archival project and partly a breakup album, it shifted his complex musical balance more conspicuously toward jazz and deliberate instrumental passages. Representing his still wide-ranging stylistic approach, guests included rapper Slauson Malone and Montreal indie musician Sea Oleena. ~ John D. Buchanan & Marcy Donelson