Yanni Burton’s love and music is “Worth It”
Timothy Rawles, February 2020 Issue.
Yanni Burton could be a pop mega-star if he
wanted to be even if his niche market straddles the line between dance club
disco and piano infused ballads. What makes him different though are his cool,
gentle vocals that don’t hide behind an industrial beat, but rather bloom
within the hook, gaining more feeling as the song plays out if only because the
lyrics take up the emotional slack.
This Julliard trained Australian-born singer
may have given us the best dance club song of last year with “Worth It,” but
again not being mainstream, less people heard it than should have. I was
however lucky enough to treat my air pods to it and immediately found myself
hitting replay more than a few times.
Although creating music is important to
Yanni, he doesn’t limit himself. By that I mean he does several creative things
in his life, composing radio-ready music is only one of them. He seems content
in knowing that his music takes up space on a streaming service rather than at
the top of a list in Billboard Magazine.
He has the voice and the looks to be a pop
pin-up, or a gay idol, but his creative landscape is filled with much more than
being something like a one-hit maestro.
“I think maybe when I was a little younger I
probably had that but I found things that I enjoy and I want to be able to do a
lot of different things and they all kind of level out,” he says in a subtle
I talked to Yanni just before he was getting
on a plane back to the United States. He was in London for a little rest and
relaxation. Of course, he says there was a little business sprinkled in
throughout his trip, something you can’t avoid when you’re Yanni Burton.
He grew up on a farm in Adelaide Australia
and before we got down to discussing his music and his recent wedding
engagement, I wanted to ask how he was feeling about the country-wide fires
that have been devastating his homeland. He’s been in the United States for
many years now and feels a little disjoined from Australia, but that doesn’t
mean the impact of destruction hasn’t affected him, especially since the flames
are edging close to his family.
“It just doesn’t seem real, but my father has
a farm in rural New South Wales and they’re 45 minutes away from the biggest
fire so it’s scary and upsetting,” he says. “I do feel a little helpless not
He welcomes a bit of relief knowing that rain
has recently fallen on the region to calm things down a bit, but, he says,
”it’s not even the hot, hot, hot season yet. Late January, late Feb’ is when it
He likens the climate to of all places,
Phoenix after a visit he made many years ago, “weather-wise and culture-wise
yeah it’s very similar. It’s bizarre.”
Traversing the pall of the conversation, I
turn my attention to something more upbeat, his music career and the song
“Worth It”. It’s a very low-key dance song as I mentioned before, but it
definitely has all the trappings of a Billboard Dance hit even if its only
lifespan might be several rotations at a gay dance club.
The video for the song however takes a hard
left turn in its narrative. Whereas the tune is a ballad for trusting someone
and letting yourself fall in love, the video, while still about love, is
about the toxic kind.
In creating the visual tale for “Worth
It,” director Tiger Darrow created a story that follows two young men: one, a
smitten lad (Yanni) willing to do anything for his shady love interest (Kevin
Reed), even home invasion.
“He’s obviously pressuring me into doing
these things that I’m not comfortable with,” says Yanni of the video’s
antagonist. “So, we just played with that idea and had it turn around on
itself. So, you get two kinds of products out of it. You have this song you can
listen to by itself then you see it with the music video and you get a
Yanni loves the idea of interpretation, “when
you get multiple angles it becomes even more fun for people to analyze it, put
their own spin on it.”
His videos are always artistic. The one for
another of his songs, “Awake,” was more of a single-shoe dance concept video,
while yet another, “End Up Missing” was shot in Joshua Tree amid a freak
And that’s how it goes with Yanni. His music
is not, or at least his songs are not part of an immediate collective. It’s an
ever-evolving catalog, one that he fills with individually nurtured works that
are only ready when he’s happy with them.
“I think where I’m at, I really enjoy
doing a single at a time because I can fully immerse myself into just one song,
one project, produce a track and work with a director or an artist to kind of
give it another layer, give a visual component to it,” he says. “And then I can
just spend all my time on that one song. And I think financially if you are
focusing on one product you give it your heart and soul and push it a little
more and give that baby more love rather than a whole album at the same time
which I mean I would love to do but I think just where I’m at right now, my
career, for me, I get more enjoyment on a per project basis and also time,
because I have a day job. I can spend a little more love on it and move on to
the next track.”
However, after is all is said and done, Yanni
does have a back log of unreleased songs, he says about 10, “I just don’t want
to put them out there. I want to like give them the little love they deserve
and do it gradually.”
Speaking of love, Yanni has found it in the
form of a southern boy named Jordan Palmer. Unlike the character in the “Worth
It” video, Jordan is a positive influence who throws his support behind Yanni
in everything he does. In fact, Jordan was the driving force behind the
musician’s motivation to make more music.
“We met seven years ago actually,” in a bar,
Jordan says. “And he’s probably the main reason I pursued singing and
songwriting. My relationship before was not great and I wasn’t doing what I
wanted to do and when we started dating he was just like, ‘yeah, you should be
doing this, like your music’s great, get out there.’ He would come to all my
gigs and he really gave me that confidence to pursue this career.”
That confidence has also led to an
engagement. The couple plan on getting married this coming August in Scotland.
Yanni says it’s a place where both families can come and relax for three nights
and four days. As for kids, it’s definitely in the cards, “Kids in New York and
managing careers is very difficult. But yeah, family is very important to Jordan
and me. It’s something in the horizon. We want to be out of a one-bedroom
The new year is bringing some new things to
the artist. His day job, as he calls it, is as a production director and
manager for a small arts company.
Along with new remixes of his song “Mess
Around,” he has another song and video coming out in the next month or two, it
all depends on when the final edit is finished. He is just going to keep
plugging away, “It’s like the most I’ve ever released and working with these
artists, both musicians and writing and also with creative and visual people
it’s just been an eye-opening experience, a privilege to bring a bunch of minds
together and create something that we didn’t even think was possible.”
What it all comes down to for Yanni is the
love of the work and you can clearly hear that in his songs. From the lyrics to
the composition, the handsome man from Australia with a great voice is only
putting things out there that come from a very special place. And as sporadic
as that might seem, his works still follow one important rule.
“As long as you put heart and soul into it
and you believe in what you’re doing I think that’s the biggest thing,” he