The newest face of country music is Asian

Photo courtesy of Travis Yee

by Mimi Chen, AsAmNews Staff Writer

Move over trolls, there is a new face in Country and Western Music, and his name is Travis Yee.

Being a singer wasn’t really a childhood dream. Apparently several years ago, just for fun, Yee decided to post covers of songs he liked. But what happened is that everything he sang sounded country. When asked if he could figure out where the country and western twang came from, Yee shrugged and could not find an answer. 

“Yeah, it kind of just in a way fell on my lap unexpectedly. No one in my family sings,” he said in an interview with AsAmNews. “I’m originally from San Francisco and we definitely do not listen to country music there. I grew up on pop and R&B, so Earth, wind, and fire temptations, Michael Bolton, Rod Stewart.”

Yee notes that he didn’t grow up as a musician, nor did he start to sing until about eight years ago.  

“What had happened was I posted a random YouTube video of me singing a random song by Wilson Phillips. Kind of like jokingly, but just to see what happens because everyone has like curious minds of, you know, trying to be Youtube famous or whatever,” he said.

He was encouraged to continue after he posted videos because people started complimenting his singing in the comment section. Many viewers liked the country twist he added to his covers. Yee noted that he didn’t think of anything at that point, but because he was getting compliments on his singing, he began taking requests and posting them on Instagram.

“People would start sending me pop songs and then over time, people started mentioning things like I like the twang that you’re adding to these pop songs,” he said. “And so they started requesting country songs.”

While he didn’t grow up country, because of his naturally twangy style, Yee decided to embrace the genre.

“I started falling in love with country music because of what people were introducing me to and it just became like a passion and I’ve been running with it ever since now,” Yee said.

He feels the new exposure to country music has probably encouraged him to steer more into that sound.

“You know, like kind of like if I moved to London. I’m sure I would start building a British accent overtime, so I think that’s what’s slowly happened over time with my voice is it’s acclimated to,” he said

Yee said that his friends and family have been surprised and happy to watch his journey in music progress. They have a vicarious joy watching his success. 

“They’re enjoying it as much as I’m enjoying it,” Yee said. “Because it’s also something that they would never do in their lifetime.”

When asked who he thinks he sounds like the most, Yee responds, “I’ve heard people say that I sound like George Strait or Randy Travis.” 

The one artist that Yee seems particularly fond of is Chris Young, asserting that he knows every Chris Young song because he’s “my go-to guy.”

Yee’s normal day job doesn’t have much to do with the music industry, but he’s fond of his gig.

“I’m a customer success manager for a text message marketing company basically. So I work with eCommerce brands helping them,” he explained.

He said it’s the perfect job for a budding country singer since he works virtually and is able to work no matter where his singing takes him.

For Yee’s first live gig, he was offered a chance to perform on a FOX television show called “I Can See Your Voice.” He had performed comfortably in front of a camera at home but was nervous about singing in front of a live audience on stage. In the end, it was a great experience—like a kind f crash course in performing—that taught him how to rise to the occasion.

Yee said that 99 percent of the feedback he gets is positive and actually encourages him to continue. He figures that if you deal with people, whether socially or in customer service, you are bound to encounter mean people, but Yee is not bothered by them. 

“To me it’s entertaining,” he said. “I just roll with it and figure they are just having a bad day or whatever. It does not bother me whatsoever.”  

Yee wouldn’t mind becoming a star in the country music scene, but prefers to just have “fun doing this.”  he says.  “I know the next step is to start writing my own songs and seeing where it goes from there.”

Having already garnered millions of views online and 999 thousand followers on TikTok, it seems that Yee is already off to a great start to his music career.

You can follow Yee on Youtube, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.

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