Desiree Yearby On Working 10 Jobs, Her Start In The Industry & Gives Us 5 Oklahoma Artists To Check Out [Interview]
I’ve known Desiree Yearby for more than five years now if my memory serves me correctly. We were supposed to meet at A3C the past two years but like most people in the industry we’re always busy. One goal I have with these interviews is to showcase the wide variety of talent that exists across the spectrum of hip-hop. A common misconception is that hip-hop is only prevalent in the pillars of music, LA, New York, Philly etc. However what Desiree has done and created during her duration in the game out of Oklahoma, is nothing short of phenomenal. Now bare with me this is just an introductory interview with Desiree, so you all can get to know her. I promise we’ll sit down and have an actual conversation and discussion down the line.
Ok-Tho: For those who somehow still don't know who is Desiree Steeze?
Desiree Yearby: Real name Desiree Yearby and an OKC native. I am a helper of hip-hop artist in Oklahoma, filling in the gap where ever needed. The Oklahoma market is so small that do whatever is needed in the scene, this has led me to some great opportunities, but it’s very hard to describe what I do exactly I usually tell people to follow me on socials and just watch for a couple of days.
OT: We'll jump deeper into this in a bit, but I have to ask, how did you survive doing THHF & SXSW? The minute I saw you were doing both I had every intent to ask you about this in person.
DY: My life going out of state is very structured I schedule out when I sleep and where my rest periods are, I also know I can’t do great things without actually doing great things and practicing discipline and time management. Tucson and SXSW were 2 weeks of fun, work and strengthening relationships, a perfect balance.
OT: How were both events?
DY: So THHF was beautiful and eye-opening Tucson has some really great artist they welcomed me with open arms. I was amazed to see the festival in a similar but different market to OKC and how the community came together for it. I am really blessed to know Pike and Jocelyn, Jocelyn who I met last year at A3C we were blind housemates! SXSW is like a marathon, only the fittest survive I spent this year a little different than I usually do. I took a lot of time out to meet with people I looked up to like Abby Kurin of the Tulsa Film Music Art and Culture Commission, who spearheaded the official Tulsa Oklahoma SX stage 2 years in a row and Erinn Knight who does events, consulting and management in Atlanta. They both are great women and I’m and don’t always get to be around that energy.
OT: You've been in the game, studying the game and getting wins in the game for a while now, but where your love for music start?
DY: My love to help artist started when Jabee (https://twitter.com/mynameisJabee) invited me to see Blu (@herfavcolor) in OKC when I was 16. At that concert, I got chills like I had a spiritual awakening of some sort. I decided right then I wanted to chase that high and I attend as many concerts as a possibly could for as long as I could which all lead me here.
OT: And then just as a followup when did you make the transition from a fan of music to "I want to be in the music industry."
DY: My love for concerts grew enormously, so much that I knew I had to start attending festivals of some sort but in Oklahoma, a lot of people don’t like to travel even for fun, it’s so strange. My best friends 7 years ago begged me to go with them to A3C cause one of them got a temporary position to work for the festival and I hopped on a bus with them. 18 hours later I attended my first panel at A3C that ended up being a PR panel lead by Wendy day. I had the time of life and went to A3C every year after that. I didn’t really know why I wanted to go panels and why I took notes, I wasn’t helping anyone at the time but after a couple of years of just being a fan that took notes, someone strongly suggested I use my skills and knowledge.
OT: Tell me about Hip Hop in Oklahoma because you've been in the scene for years now. I still feel people really only focus on the "big" markets on the East Coast/West Coast comparisons. Where does Oklahoma fit in the hip hop circle?
DY: Oklahoma has its own sound, we have always had it. Samples in G-funk music are rooted in Tulsa, Oklahoma if people really investigated the history. Oklahoma is rooted in great storytelling and making something out of a little. We have one the first Jazz districts in OKC with Deep Deuce, that doesn’t get recognized enough. Tulsa, OK is home of the original Black Wall Street. Oklahoma as a state once had the most black-owned towns in America. Tulsa is home of the largest rap festival in the state. Hip-hop is alive and well here and I encourage all who read this to visit us!
OT: Can you give me five Oklahoma artists that we're all sleeping on and need to press play on ASAP?
DY: 1: Miillie Mesh (https://mymixtapez.com/album/206245) (OKC, OK)
She just released an amazing mixtape called Mesh Madness hosted by Tulsa DJ, DJ Bigg Rich, it’s energetic and her song, “Trapping out” could go up against any new song out.
2: Jacobi Ryan ( https://open.spotify.com/artist/4H5Cg8C1r4ZdLDJ6iWvb8i ) (Lawton, OK)
Jacobi has been featured on this site but he is releasing great songs/videos and self-made artwork every week of this year, and every week I’m astonished of his work ethic.
3: St. Domonick (https://open.spotify.com/artist/35SQeS8umTTS5ZwuVgvLRq) (Tulsa, OK)
St. Dom has a couple of cool projects on Spotify and Soundcloud and he’s his flow is always impeccable and doesn’t lack a point a view, he’s literally the coolest guy in the state.
4: Gabrielle B. (https://open.spotify.com/album/2ibMUPLnyU7b32fqgCvAfl) OKC, OK
Gabrielle B. is an RnB that loves mixing the community in her EPs her latest EP Feel Something is doing well on the RnB section of Audiomack thanks you and your advice.
5: Thomas Who? (https://open.spotify.com/artist/1ToBuKQJNHk0DbwMIPlchj ) (OKC, OK)
Thomas Who? Is making his resurgence back in OKC and I haven’t heard a bad song from him yet. He’s prolific in what he wants to say and how to he says it and his new project Splash! should be out this summer.
OT: You throw events, you manage your own website, deal with artists on the daily. How do you keep your head straight?
DY: I tell people all the time I have 3 jobs on paper and like 10 other jobs that vary by month. I am a strong believer in time management and I wear a watch 24/7 even in the shower. My watch is also a couple of minutes ahead so I’m usually on time wherever I go. I also believe in eating for energy (if I don’t get enough sleep), not letting others waste my time and taking my breaks when they come even if it’s for a couple of minutes. My mentors are usually telling me to get rest when we meet up lol. Prioritizing really can set you ahead of others so I try to be the best at that.
OT: Dealing with artists on the daily can be stressful, what's something that artists need to stop doing in 2019 when approaching and/or working with you?
DY: Stop sending DM’s, it’s an easy way to get unacknowledged I spent a lot of my younger life being in people faces or in their presence, I think that being present in real life and persistent gets you far. Also, don’t rap over your vocals, it takes the emotions you made in a song completely disappear. I also want artist to stop having too much pride in being a regular person, regular people win every day! Artist must start somewhere and forget how noble it is to have a regular job or regular relationships with people to fill the gas tank of their dreams.
OT: While we’re in May, it feels like 2019 just got started what can we expect from you this summer and closing out this year?
DY: I just finished my first semester of teaching Social Media Strategy for the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma. I am currently booking a music festival here in Oklahoma that I will totally oversee next year and will be doing more independent classes on the music business and social media strategy for small business owners and musicians. At the end of the year, I will be back at A3C where we can finally meet!
You can catch up with Desiree on Twitter, Instagram and her Website