One thing Yannick Hooper isn’t is “undecided”. He is quite clear on the career path he wants to take. He knows that the soca arena is where he belongs.
Growing up around soca music, and following an introduction to veteran calypsonian Anderson Blood Armstrong, he knew that he had found his calling.
“When I was about 17, my dad introduced me to Anderson Armstrong, and I had a song called Kadooment Morning. And that year was crazy fun. I was able to perform at some major events. So big up to Blood and those guys for helping me,” Yannick said.
But even before that introduction, while at the Deighton Griffith Secondary School, he was constantly being urged by friends to pursue singing soca because “he was good at it”.
“I’ve always loved soca music, and I started to dabble in soca music at the age of 16 when I was at Deighton. We had a band and I performed with them. And everyone came to me and said I should definitely take this more seriously; so I decided that I was going to do it. I was always a lover of the arts,” he told Bajan Vibes.
Yannick’s big break came in 2012 with his hit song Undecided.
“Undecided started to pick up at the end of the Crop Over season and it was great. I narrowly missed out on winning the People’s Monarch competition,” he said.
That big break in Barbados allowed him to take his soca music beyond these shores, which for him was always a dream.
“I found myself in New York, Toronto. I was in Miami all over; so that was definitely the major break for me. A major dream come through. It was a great experience. I found myself on top of trucks, and it was phenomenal to see the millions of West Indians just coming there to participate in what I love to do.
“One of the most incredible things I have ever been a part of. If felt like I was in Barbados. I was singing Undecided, and I tossed out the mic and the entire club was singing my song; and it was heart-warming to me. After New York, I went on to Miami. I did a few shows there. After Miami, was a special time for me. I got called up to Toronto in the snow and I did the show by myself and that was crazy,” Yannick reported.
From here, he does not intend to stop; he plans on taking his music as far as it can go.
“I believe in studying my craft and growing. People tell me every year that I put out a song that I’m growing and improving. So you can just look for the continuous improvement. I’m looking to bring another perspective every year. You’re not going to get a song that sounds the same way. I’m just trying to kind of broaden my perspective and work harder and take my music as far as I can,” he added.
He continued: “As an artist, it’s always a continuous effort from me. People often ask me if I have started to write for the upcoming season, but I tell them I haven’t stopped. I’m always working. As I go about my day, I’m always observing stuff, seeing what people like. I’m always thinking creatively.”
Yannick now has his sights set on Trinidad Carnival.
“I have actually been to Trinidad Carnival from very early. I actually went when I was 16, and that was a big thing. And I was going continuously year after year until about three years ago . . . . The time for my being a ‘feter’ and going in the crowds a standing up and watching people that I’ve performed with is over.
“The next time that I want to be in Trinidad is when I’m onstage. They say it’s one of the greatest shows on earth and it truly is,” the down-to-earth singer said.
His inspiration comes from all soca music, he told Bajan Vibes.
“I would say I’m mentored by the entire movement of soca music. I wouldn’t say any specific person, but I’m mentored and inspired by the work that comes from Caribbean people –– the creativity that I see every day among regular people –– and that definitely inspires me to do what I do.”
But singing is not his only love. In fact, he loves the arts. Period. He is now pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in creative arts at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus.
“I have been doing theatre at UWI for the last three years. Doing all different stuff within the arts –– whether it is singing, songwriting or acting. I actually do film as well. So I’ve been totally consumed,” he told Bajan Vibes.
Yannick would have other young people get involved in the soca arena, but he cautions that it be done for the right reasons.
“Stay true to the art form. A lot of people get in to it for other stuff. But it’s very important that once you love it and you put the hard work into it, then it is something that you can be successful at. What I would tell anybody is to watch the people that came before us. Those people that have been doing it for years.
“And what you should do is always add your modern touch to it. So don’t just get into it for getting into its sake. Watch who came before you, and look to add to that cause at the end of the day. It’s a collective soca music.
“We are all pushing towards one goal,” the 22-year-old said.