Baby one more time: bubblegum pop songstress Ysa Yaneza is back with a new single - and debut EP. Credit: Li Wanjie

Y2K nostalgia has been inescapable in recent years. One of its most ardent proponents here is Ysa Yaneza, the Singaporean-Filipino singer-songwriter who embodies the decade’s fun and flirty brashness perfectly with her delicious bubble-gum pop earworms.

The last time we spoke to Yaneza was before the pandemic hit and the 26-year-old had just embarked on a solo tour in her birth city of Manila to promote her single ‘Softly’. Now the pop princess is back with a just-launched new single Jewel – the first off her debut, eponymous EP that’s slated to launch this Oct.

A R&B heartbreak anthem based on the breakdown of a relationship with an unfaithful partner, Jewel sees the songstress continue to explore personal narratives of identity and relationships through her synth-inflected tunes. Here, we speak with Yaneza on what we can expect from her latest work:

Hi Ysa, what can you tell us about the upcoming EP?

“I’ve been working on producing an EP for many years. I have only ever released singles, and it’s always been a goal to produce a string of cohesive songs to be able to show different sides of my artistry. The brainstorming and writing started mostly during the lockdown periods. It’s been a real blessing to have worked with talented artists, producers, songwriters from all around the globe whom I’ve met by chance online. One of them is (singer-songwriter known for pushing disco-heavy remixes) SOLRWAVE. I haven’t even met them IRL but I’m truly grateful that we shared a similar vision to the sound I was aiming for.”

What were some key influences?

“Heartbreak, for sure. I was reflecting a lot on my relationships and processing past trauma. I turned to ’80s ballads and ’90s R&B (for inspiration) and you can hear those synth and groove influences in my upcoming EP.”

Your work seems like it has always had a strong 2000s vibe to it – what draws you to it? Why the obsession?

“Nostalgia (for the past) is something that has always resonated with me – and it shows in my work. So far I’ve (predominantly) tapped into the ’90s and ’00s – I think it’s only natural because I grew up in those decades. I consumed pop culture in various ways, especially as technology advanced. I didn’t think much of it when I first uploaded a video on YouTube in 2005 when I was a kid and now looking back, it’s kind of a novelty to have done that, as if I grew up together with the technology surrounding me. There’s so much to explore in the ’00s because there were just a lot of different fashion, music styles popping off at that time.”

Going by the album art, it seems like you’re going for a more polished vibe now. Tell us more about the artistic direction you were going for.

“Apart from the music, I also want the visuals to reflect where I am currently in my life. I feel like I’m not the exact same person when I wrote and produced ‘Tea’. To put it simply, remember that Britney Spears song, ‘I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman’? If ‘Girl’ was point 0 and ‘Woman’ was point 10, I’m now at 7.5. I feel like I’m becoming the woman I want to be.”

What other projects or plans might you be working on for 2022 that you can share details on?

“I’m working on a music video right now, as we speak. And I always make sure the next video is a step up from the last. I want it to be something worth the wait for fans who have been following my journey, and worth the watch for new listeners!”

Listen to Jewel here