Interview by Jana Letonja

Rising trilingual singer-songwriter Yael Danon is releasing her debut album Diary Girl‘, which weaves in and out of several genres, touching on pop, rock, Latin and alternative sensibilities. The album is a compilation of pages from Yaels diary expressed through music. At the age of 13, Yael won the Youth category of ‘Israel’s Got Talent’.

Yael, you started writing and singing your first songs at the age of 8. What prompted your love for music so early in your life?

I remember watching musical TV shows and singing with the actors I saw on TV. When I was 8 years old, I snooped through my mom’s phone and saw a flyer for a singing competition. I decided I was going to audition somehow and as soon as I got home that day, I practiced for hours with karaokes on the computer. I got in and when I performed on that big stage I knew I was born to do this. 

When you were on a family vacation in Israel, you made the decision to audition for ‘Israel’s Got Talent’, which you then won in the Youth category at the age of 13. Why were you hesitant to audition at first and what then convinced you to do it?

I actually wasn’t hesitant, but my mom sure was. She wanted to protect me from being in a reality show, but I convinced her it was something I really wanted to do. Though she was hesitant at first, she is now my personal manager and best supporter. 

How did winning ‘Israel’s Got Talent’ impact your decision to release your own music?

Winning the show made me realize I was capable of accomplishing any of my dreams and goals. Releasing my own music was always something I dreamt of doing, because I’ve always loved writing. The show allowed me to build a platform and gave me the confidence to start releasing my own music. 

After the success of your 2022 singles ‘Teddy Bear’, ‘FOMO’ and ‘I Don’t Miss You At All’, you are now releasing your debut album ‘Diary Girl’. Tell us more about this album nad the inspiration behind its songs.

I have already released 5 singles from this album and I am so grateful for the listeners’ reactions to my music. These 3 new songs that are going to be released with ‘Diary Girl’ will shape the album and listening to all of them will give the perfect storytelling behind this diary. The inspiration of these songs is situations I’ve been through, pretty much issues that every teenager faces and obstacles that may also persist in adulthood. 

The album covers topics like toxic relationships, anxiety, fear of missing out and messy breakups. It has unique storytelling style, which allows the listeners to create their own images of each story and connect it to their life events. Why did you decide on such a unique storytelling style and why do you think it’s importnat that the listeners can relate to your music?

I believe music is about making the listener feel something. I felt like it was my duty to tell my story in my debut album. My story is also the story of thousands, in a slightly different way. I used to be afraid of being so specific with my storytelling and emotions, but now I feel like that is what makes my music unique. 

‘Diary Girl’ features also many collaborators. How did you decide on who you wanted to work on individual songs?

I loved collaborating with the people on this album. They all had an amazing vibe and we all had a similar vision for each song. Tommy Torres is one of the collaborators and my mentor on this album. I’ve always admired him and his music, and being able to work with him was simply amazing. 

Your music spans over genres from pop, rock, Latin and alternative sensibilities. Why are you meshing all these different genres and not focusing only on one in particular?

I feel like this mesh of genres is a mesh of who I am. I am a trilingual singer-songwriter, born and raised in Panama,with Israeli parents. I grew up listening to almost everything and I wanted my music to express my roots, my cultural background. Instead of focusing on one in particular, I decided that in order to express to my listeners who I am I had to create my sound and fusion. 

What was the biggest lesson you learned along the way when you were recording this debut album?

The biggest lesson I learned along the way was to stay patient. I started this album 2 years ago and along the way discovered so many things about myself as a person and as an artist. 

Yael, tell us more about some of your other passions. What excites you in life, besides music?

Besides music, I am passionate about acting. I have performed in multiple musicals and partook in film acting courses. There’s something about becoming a new character that I find fascinating. 

What’s coming up next for you, after the release of ‘Diary Girl’?

I plan to perform and to continue writing and creating new music.