An interview with the incredible Yilian Canizares

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

I conducted this interview of December 2019 as a video interview for

Kobanu YouTube

channel. Finally, I made the time to transcribe it for the website for our dear readers.

So, without wasting much time, let's get into the conversation with this excellent woman.

Q. Please tell us about yourself.

A. My name is Yillian Canizares, I'm from Cuba, born and raised in Cuba, and I have Yoruba ancestry. So, this is my heritage.

Q. What inspired you into music?

A. I was drawn to music when I was very, very little; for me, music is the most significant way to touch the human heart and soul. As far as I can remember, I've always wanted to become a musician, and I dedicated all my life to become one.

Q. So, how would you describe your music?

A. Well, I would say that music is soulful full of different influences from Cuba, from the Caribbeans, from Africa, and the whole world. My music is open to every human soul.

Q. I've been to your concert, and I could feel some Afro-vibe, Cuban vibe, the energy, and the jazziness of your music, so, Why that style of music?

A. There are all these influences that you mentioned in my music; there is jazz, Africa, Cuba, and the Caribbean. To be honest, I don't choose these styles of music, I just let my heart speak, and this is the way my heart expresses. I like a lot of improvisation, and that is the jazz part, I like a lot of rhythms as well, and that is from Africa of course, and it needs to be present because I like to dance. To me, it's a spontaneous process; I allow whatever music that want to come out to flow freely.

Q. What do you do when you're not making music?

A. Dancing.

Q. Who is your biggest inspiration, and why?

A. I have few people who inspired me; I would say Nina Symone for sure and Miriam Makeba. They are two powerful, honest, and fearless women. They're not only great musicians, but they're also delivering a message to their audience.

Q. Have you collaborated with other musicians since you started making your music?

A. You know, for me, music is all about sharing. One of the most beautiful things in music is that you can collaborate with different artist. I've been working with an artist like Chucho Valdes, Oman Sosa, Ibrahim Maalouf, Richard Bona, and many other artists. And I hope to also collaborate with many more in the future.

Q. how many music albums do you have now?

A. Under my name, I have four albums. I'll be releasing the fourth one in a few days. Every record is a different story; I see each album as a picture of a moment in my life. They represent the person I am at the moment I created each record.

Q. So, your fourth album is coming out in a few days as you said. It's called Erzulie, tell us the amount of work that went into it, and what we should expect from it?

A. Erzulie is a very personal Album. I feel like I put my soul naked on it. It took me a lot of courage to face my fears and go beyond my limits. I didn't want to repeat myself; I wanted to go for the risk even if I wasn't sure where I was heading. So, Erzulie has been a compelling journey for me, a journey that started inside, and I've been delivering every song showing my fragility and vulnerability, showing my strength, and showing that I am human.

Q. How can people get your album and start dancing to the songs?

A. It's available on all the digital platforms, and you can also get a hard copy of it from Amazon.

Q. Back in the summer, I attended one of your concerts where you made some dance moves that I grew up seeing among Yoruba people, is this tradition type of dance something you had to learn or did it come naturally to you?

A. In Cuba, we have a strong heritage from the Yoruba people, not only from the Yoruba people but from the whole of Africa, but very strong from the Yoruba people. This style of dance is not just part of our tradition but a part of our DNA. So, this is the way my body moves. Thank God.

Q. You sings about the Yoruba deities, especially Osun, you even have a single about her. What's your connection to the great goddess?

A. Well, Osun is very special to me, she's my guardian angel, she's my divinity, and she's my queen. In Cuba, we say that I'm a daughter of Osun. So, I'm very connected to Osun. That's why I have a representation of her in many of my music.

Q. Have you ever been to the Osun in Nigeria?

A. hmm, not yet, but it's one of the places at the top of my sites to go list.

Q. What is your Biggest Challenge in the music industry?

A. To remain honest with myself, this means to make the music that comes from my soul and not to make any other music because someone else is expecting to do it. I want to deliver the message that I can Identify with, and not someone else's word. So, I need to stay connected to who I am, my roots, with my ancestors, and with the way that I see the world. And to speak about my truth, my people's reality. And to create a big community around that truth. And not to fit into anyone else standard.

Q. How do you think you could overcome those challenges?

A. I think by remaining honest to yourself and who you are and speaking with the heart open to the people. I believe you guys will feel the honesty and the love behind what we are delivering as a message and that's t.

Q. Do you have a connection with any African Musician?

A. Yes, I told you before. Richard Bona, I have played with him few times; I've played with two great bass players: one coming Mozambique, Childo Thomas, who is the bass player on this album, he's one of the greatest. And another prominent musician, who's also a friend, young musician from Senegal, his name is Alune Wade. And please check out these musicians because they are outstanding.

Q. If you're not making music, what else would you be doing?

A. Whatever that brings joy to people. I think that now our day's people need to laugh, people need to dance, and people need to be free. I think I will still be doing something related to art because I'm very much an artistic person. Indeed, dancing or movies, just something that gives people joy.

Q. What is your message to those that may want to follow your footsteps?

A. I would say through perseverance, working hard, commitment, and love, you can change the world, and you can have whatever you want to attain. So, I'd say to them to keep working hard, to believe in yourself, and to make it happen; we are to make it happen.

Q. How can people get in touch with you?

A. they can follow me on Instagram





I reply to all my messages. So, your messages will be answered by me.

Q. can you tell us about your upcoming concerts?

A. Yes, I will be heading to Martinique, and I have a significant day coming in Paris for the release of my album, and in 2020 I will be touring in Haiti, and then a big tour in the United States of America.

Q. This Year is coming to its end, what do you plan to do with the rest of it?

A. Oh wow, I think I have a lot of work, I will be working until the 23rd of December, and then I will be going to my hometown in Cuba to spend the last days with my grandmother and with my family which is very, very important. Family first!

Q. What message do you have for us to carry into the coming year?

A. We need a lot of tolerance and love, especially now our days that people are getting crazy with political fears about strange things and much other unpleasantness that are going on around us as humans. We need to build a community; we need to draw closer to our humanity and drop all the fears and let love be the ruler.

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