Today we’d like to introduce you to Yamit and The Vinyl Blvd , Yamit Lemoine.
Yamit and The Vinyl Blvd, Yamit, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born in Israel where I was immersed in music from a very young age. My mother is a Russian trained classical violinist, and I began to study violin with her since I was five years old. My whole family was pretty musical, my older sister played piano and cello. We both kind of grew up in the conservatory where my mother taught, playing in different classical ensembles, chamber orchestras, and singing with the conservatory choir. When my family immigrated to Toronto, I began to focus more on vocal training and let go of the violin for a bit.
Growing up listening to pop albums, I realized that the tunes that resonated with me the most on some albums were usually the ones with different composer credits than the rest – and I soon realized that my favorite songs are actually from the Great American Songbook. That’s when I discovered my love for Jazz.
I studied Jazz and performance in Toronto, had a brief stint in NYC, and then moved to Miami where I studied Audio Engineering.
Professionally, since moving to Miami I worked as a music producer, stage director, musical director and writer. One day, about six years ago – a friend of mine opened a bar and asked me if I’d like to sing some Jazz there on my day off. I’d like to add that at about that time – live Jazz became a “thing” again in Miami, more and more spots began to once again recognize the value of live music and chose to invest in it.
I started to perform at my friend’s bar once a week, which turned into twice a week. I had a band-mate who suggested that I incorporate my violin into the gigs as well. Since I had not touched the violin in years – I was reluctant to do that, but after some friendly arm-twisting, the violin became part of the performance. Two gigs per week quickly turned into multiple gigs at several spots in Miami and I quit my Musical Director job at the theater. I decided to call my band Vinyl Blvd, and eventually started recording my first album, with some of Miami’s most sought-after Jazz musicians.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Currently I’m the Band Leader/Singer/Violinist with the Jazz band Yamit and The Vinyl Blvd, also seen around town as Vinyl Blvd.
As an artist, over time, I have worn many different hats – but they’ve all been of a creative nature. When I first decided to pursue creativity professionally, my deal with myself was to: (1) always make money doing something that is related to music and/or theater, and (2) to not have a professional safety net – that way I have no choice but to thrive.
This has allowed me to grow and become a multifaceted artist, and looking back, many of the things I’ve done so far came together in my project Yamit and The Vinyl Blvd. My experiences as a musician, audio engineer, musical director, writer, director, producer and of course vocalist – come to play in live shows and in recordings.
I have to add that I’m an extremely harsh critic of myself and being a little bit of a perfectionist is both a blessing and a curse since it makes the project better – but slows down the process quite a bit…
My band’s repertoire is vintage, 1920’s-1960’s golden era classics, mostly Great American Songbook Jazz Standards, but I also love incorporating some era-specific tunes in French, Spanish and Italian. It’s important for me to make the performances relatable and engaging, and I feel that singing in different languages helps me connect with a wider audience.
As a performer, when I select tunes for the repertoire, I have to connect with the lyrics. If I’m singing in a language I don’t fluently speak, I make sure I know the exact meaning of each line. I believe that if I do not emotionally connect to a song – neither will my audience.
I truly love those classic Jazz tunes and it’s always my goal to do them justice – which means that the band consistently features some of the top Jazz artists in Miami.
The best is when I get comments from my audience, saying that they feel as if they’ve been “transported in time”. As a performer and director – I’ve created a “scene”, of which the audience is a part of, using the musical material that I love. The audience and I connect in that scene, through the music and the moment. That fulfills me.
Artists face many challenges, but what do you feel is the most pressing among them?
I think that today most artists have unfortunately been indoctrinated from an early age to be afraid of professionally pursuing our true nature – myself included. Although my mother was my violin teacher, my parents never wanted me to pursue performance on a professional level. I’ve been blessed to have been immersed in music as a child, but I’ve had to fight for my choice of profession since I was a teen.
Some artists wake up early. Some wake up later, some never wake up. Essentially, our biggest challenge is trusting ourselves and taking the leap. It’s possible that I’m an optimist, but I think that no matter what your desired profession is – artist or not – there will be a need for it, or some form of it, in society. In every profession there is always a “climb”, and the climb will take work if you’re going to be successful and pay bills doing what you love. When you keep repeatedly and persistently doing something – you will inevitably grow and get better at it.
Essentially, ups and downs in any profession are a part of life – you might as well put in the time doing what you love since it will self-propel you.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I usually perform 3-5 times per week, mostly with the quartet, but also with the duo and trio. Sometimes I get to perform with the bigger ensemble – 7 piece band or more… So much fun.
All of my gigs are listed on www.vinylblvd.com on the Calendar page. We are on Instagram and FB as @vinylblvd and I’m happy to say that the YAMIT AND THE VINYL BLVD album, named AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ is coming out next month (May 2019) on all digital platforms and physical copies will be available at shows and some stores as well.
- Website: www.vinylblvd.com
- Instagram: @vinylblvd
- Facebook: @vinylblvd
- Twitter: @vinylblvd
- Other: YouTube @vinylblvdmusic
Catherine Fingal, Kevin Cohen, Ari Mairena-Dannon, Aymeric Parker