Photos of YATES, courtesy artist

Australian singer Benjamin Yates (known simply as YATES) has spent much of the past year steadily building buzz and growing his catalog, highlighted by his breakout single "Mercury," which was released in March.

Since then, he's earned radio airplay in the States and has seen his profile extend beyond the land Down Under and even Europe, where he actually got his start in music.

"It's an interesting time," he says, speaking with Variance in between stops on his recent Australian tour. "I think I'm still figuring everything out, but I’m signed here and I’m starting to collaborate with some Aussies."

Having previously pursued athletics and then spending several years as part of a band, this last year has been a new adventure for him. But he says those past experiences have actually helped him navigate the complicated world of music today.

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"I was young and naive. I was in love with a German girl and I had my heart broken," he recalls of his days as lovestruck athlete before veering into music. "I wanted to return home and I didn’t feel like training anymore. My parents actually suggested I take time to have some fun. So I met some guys and we formed this indie-electronic four-piece. That was my baby for about four or five years and we sort of signed our lives away and it just didn't go the way we imagined."

Now as he goes back to Berlin and simply focuses on making music, he's keenly aware of his desire to stay true to himself this time around, even if that means being unsure of every next move. 

"I may stay in Europe or the U.K. or try to get to the U.S. I have management in L.A. now and I really want to play in America," he explains, noting how "it’s a challenge when your music starts to make an impact in other countries. So those are things we have to figure out."

Yates, whose sound is certainly unique, is perfectly satisfied with not being pigeon-holed into a particular genre or style of music, noting his admiration of Oxford rockers Foals—whom he describes as "so very real, lyrically and emotionally"—while also praising British pop up-and-comer Dua Lipa, admitting there’s "something sexy and authentic about her music."

As for his own music, Yates says he anticipates he'll release "one more EP and then do an album," although he cautions his timeline may be adjusted depending on the outcome of some ongoing meetings with potential publishers and labels. "So that might be a lie, but it's true for now," he quips with a laugh. 

For more on YATES, check his website and stay tuned for more music and tour dates.