Written by Sophie Wyatt
Launched in 2021 for the first year in Barcelona, Yamaha’s collaborative songwriting documentary series ‘Way Up’ brought together musicians from across the globe to co-write and create music together over the course of so many days. Yamaha saw a gap in the market for world music collaboration and what it can bring to the industry. And in 2022, the global music brand took its series to New York.
Six emerging musicians congregate over three days to produce a number of songs and projects. Surrounded by musical equipment, a high-tech studio and each others permeating creativity, the artists are not short of inspiration to say the least. The six artists, including London drummer Jas Kayser, Zimbabwean-born singer Gemma Griffiths and Stockholm-raised Mopiano, feature in pairs as they try to compose and create songs from nothing but their natural abilities.
While the artists are all somewhat well known already within their fields, and their different continents, Yamaha have made clear that the purpose of this documentary style series is to champion their work even more and heighten their names within the industry. This was evidently successful from the previous series with artists like Olivia Dean continuing on to have a flourishing career.
We were lucky enough to catch up with ‘Way Up’ participant and singer-songwriter/producer Mopiano to discuss what this experience meant to him. Having found a love for music from a young age, Mopiano explained to us that MTV was where it all began for him. “The 6 year old me was glued at the screen after school. Being the youngest at home was really a blessing since my older siblings loved having music played 24/7 either on the stereo or tv.”
Since deep diving into the world of music, Mopiano has come to understand that collaboration is a huge part of how he works. He explained that he understands that it is the way forward when he “needs the quality of something to become different” from what he has already mastered as a creative. He went on to say; “Being able to collaborate with people is the strongest gift since someone else’s effort is never for free. Being able to let your collaborator who has a skill set in a specific part in life or in the spectrum of music such as instruments or arrangement taking the charge is a blessing to have. Balance is great but pretty hard to sustain. That’s why I see collaborations in general as a essential part to strengthen your craft.” So, ‘Way Up’ was a time for Mopiano to shine even further as an artist and a collaborative being. And having worked with Yamaha back in his native Stockholm, Mopiano gladly accepted their proposal of including him in the ‘Way Up’ house series – describing it as “one of the biggest journeys I’ve done yet.”
While it’s clear to watch the joy it brings the artists to work together on this creative journey, the emotions from this experience go way beyond just this. Mopiano explained exactly how he thinks this experience has impacted him, and allowed him to further grow as an artist; “It brought me the comfort that consistency has different shapes, it’s not always about the traditional way of releasing music and being locked up in the studio, also about getting out there, to communicate and meet new people in the international industry not knowing what it could lead to. This was my first time in New York and we musicians from the Way Up House built an amazing bound to each other because of this extraordinary experience.”
Finally we asked Mopiano what his highlights were of the ‘Way Up’ experience. And the way he sums up his most impactful moments really brought together just how powerful this programme can be, and we look forward to seeing where the rest of his career will take him. “Some of my highlights were meeting all the amazing musicians, crew and being in New York. Definitely coming back there. I also want to thank Sebastian Krenmayr from Yamaha Europe for the amazing opportunity, really the best!”
You can now watch all of the second ‘Way Up’ series over on YouTube.