Tyson Yoshi Reflects on His Eminent Music Journey So Far
Hong Kong/ Vibe/ Artists

Hong Kong Singer Tyson Yoshi Reflects on His Music Journey So Far

Hong Kong Singer Tyson Yoshi Reflects on His Music Journey So Far 10

Tyson Yoshi is not your typical Hong Kong singer – by far.

Sitting in a cool airconditioned room, speaking with The Beat Asia about his storied journey of six years professionally singing, the Hong Konger doesn’t fit into the square mould of Hong Kong’s mainstream signers.

He’s fiercely independent with his sculpted figure, green tip dyed hair, tattooed limbs, and candid attitude to life. The singer boasts of sold-out shows in Hong Kong and the U.K., a feverish following in Taiwan, and 22 million Spotify streams in 2022. He considers himself an outlier in the city’s music scene. 

Tyson charts his honesty and maverick-like personality to his youth. Born in Hong Kong, Tyson attended a boys' school in his early troubled teens Misbehaving and skipping school, his mother sent him abroad to the cold north of England to study at remote Sedbergh Boarding School, to learn manners.

Hong Kong Singer Tyson Yoshi Reflects on His Music Journey So Far

“I was trying to fit in. The experience made me who I was,” Tyson said in our interview, “you have to pretend to be the cool kid to survive.” He mastered his spoken English in mere months, but masked who he was for years.

His tattoos, penned on him just starting at 15 years old in Wan Chai, brought him to swimming, made him cool. “They made me the only Asian kid that didn’t get picked on. For six years, I was the misfit in the Asian community there.”

“My music career began at that school, but I hid it. Each boarding room had boomboxes playing all types of music. It was the first time in my life I had listened to non-Cantopop songs,” he recounts. “I got hard drives of songs of drum and bass, pop, hip-hop, R&B, pop-punk, you name it!”

Tyson began experimenting with Logic Pro, a beat creation app, flavouring inspiration from hip-hop beats in the UK and West Coast to create his own type beats, a la Travis Scott, Akon, and Kanye. No music theory, just “feeling the vibe.”

Skip forward to university, Tyson finds himself in Brighton, south of England, studying interior architecture. He discovers more people like him, they’re just themselves. He graduated with his bachelor's degree in 2016 before returning home. His music experimentation would not stop.

Coming back to Hong Kong, however, to start writing songs after graduation, Tyson feared the worse. “[In the beginning], I couldn’t afford to make songs in Cantonese, because I know how mean people are on the internet. Mandarin was easier to create melodies and rhyme.” 

Hong Kong Singer Tyson Yoshi Reflects on His Music Journey So Far

With the wishes of his friends, Tyson began uploading his songs to Spotify, while simultaneously working professionally as an interior architect.

“At first, people were confused by me. Who the fuck is this guy singing English and Mandarin but has a Japanese last name? All these question marks create a good identity for me, mysterious.”

His first song, To My Queen, dropped in 2018, propelling the singer to the front stage in Hong Kong. A year later, in mid-2019, he released 'Christy', amassing one million views on YouTube in months. Now, three years later, it has over 23 million views.

“In 2019, I was part of a large Taiwan hip-hop Facebook page. Rapper Gao Er Xuan (OSN) shared [Christy] on his Instagram story. Within a day, I had 10,000 followers, for a week, every day the same. It was mad!”

His first debut show was held at The Wall in Taipei, a legendary venue charting the beginning of Taiwan’s music elite’s journeys. 800 tickets sold out in ten minutes. Tyson had blown up.

It was only when his music caught up with neighbouring Taiwan that Tyson figured his destiny: quit his job in mid-2020 and travel to capital Taipei to work on his music there.

“The underground rap scene in Taiwan,” he explains, “is much friendlier than Hong Kong’s. People in Hong Kong would judge me for doing Mandarin-English melodic rap, not Cantonese. The underground mindset is don’t steal my slice of the cake.”

When the pandemic hit Taiwan hard in early 2021, Tyson fled back to Hong Kong. But a big break arrives that catalysed the last two years of uber success for the singer.

Hong Kong Singer Tyson Yoshi Reflects on His Music Journey So Far

A call comes in from Commercial Radio. They want Tyson to perform in a live show alongside singer Terence Lam and two members of Mirror group. “Why the fuck me?” he asked himself at the time, “I was this guy making music in his bedroom and had a few listeners in Taiwan. They wanted me to be with these guys!”

In Hong Kong, every mainstream singer must have a skill, Tyson theorises. Mirror have the star appeal, Terence Lam is a good singer, other performers dance well. What did he have to do? “Spend three months training hard like a beast. Nobody is going to take their top off unless they’re my size.”

The following day after the September 2021 concert, Tyson’s shirtless, tatted body and determined face was plastered over dozens of news sites and papers. “My name blew up.”

What followed was a flurry of commercial jobs to sing, and Tyson’s determination to shoot music videos for his tracks. Hollywood-style music videos embracing his all-Hong Kong support team but showing off his bravado as a Hong Kong musician blending languages and styles.

His success caught on in the UK in spring 2022 for his mega ‘Hi, I’m Back’ tour in London, Manchester and Birmingham. A year later, in March and May 2023, he hosted shows in Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand.

“Hong Kong is a lot prettier in the eyes of foreigners. A lot of content shows about Hong Kong, and in Hong Kong have very Wong Kar Wai-vibe. Foreign and elusive. The video for ‘I don’t smoke, I don’t drink’ is a very badass Hong Kong vibe.” 

Hong Kong Singer Tyson Yoshi Reflects on His Music Journey So Far

Working independently with his production and entertainment company Just Kidding HK, Tyson didn’t beckon corporate control. He was carving a different path. All autonomy of his creative direction, no money sucked up by record labels.

Tyson’s latest album, 2nd PRE EVOLUTION, released in April 2023, charts the singer's new path on his journey, one of transition, so will his next album.

Set to be released later this year, his third album will be recorded purely in English, switching genres from American-themed R&B and hip-hop to pop-punk, a conscious choice to expand beyond the limitations of his former genre and prove he’s far from one-dimensional and industry-

“I can’t write essays; I am too literal. My lyrics are super direct. Chinese is not a metaphorical or figurative language. I am not a poet. I am speaking from my heart. I began my career in hip-hop because it’s a genre that allows me to be direct and straightforward.”

“Switching to pop-punk, my new genre, allows me to express my emotions. I am sick and tired of making hip-hop [songs]. I want to sing the songs that made me love Avril Lavigne, Green Day, My Chemical Romance.”

When asked about the future in his career, Tyson is determined to find peace in his personal life first. “I am turning 29 this year. I want to prepare for my next stage of my life. I can’t keep taking my shirt off like this. I want to be a husband and a father."

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