Keeping it Real with C.Y. Ing
Multifaceted Chinese-Canadian singer, Kyle Ing, professionally known as C.Y. Ing initially started composing music while attending high school in Richmond Hill, Ontario. His first releases were distributed on websites like SoundCloud, heavily inspired by sentimental genres of music such as traditional Chinese ballads and R&B. Kyle is an artist who, despite his impeccable vocals, takes time to work diligently on his music production, often creating his own instrumentals. With his most recent release, “Lucky Guy” that was released on August 23rd, he has joined us today for an exclusive interview.
How have you developed your art career up until this point?
I don’t really think I can say my art career has really properly started at this point. Up to this point, I’ve treated music more like a hobby than a career. I’d be lying if I said I never dreamt about making it as an artist, but for a while, I really didn’t understand what that process would look like and just how much work it would take for that to happen. A little less than a year ago though, during a mental down period, I realized I love making art too much to not try to at least approach it a bit more seriously. I started taking steps to really get closer to where I wanted to be. I tried making an effort to learn how to better produce and mix, to be more critical with my writing, and to meet other artists so I can learn more from like minded people. I’ve gotten to a point where I’m happy with my art, but not yet content. There's still a lot more I can do to improve my craft and everything else surrounding it. I know other artists that have put in countless more hours into YouTube tutorials and TikTok content. To really try to get my career to start, I think I would have to invest more time and effort into all aspects of the artist life. Right now, I’m still someone who’s first priority is to focus on school, so I don’t really feel as if I’m in a position to be committing more to my art at the moment. But I really hope that one day I can put myself in a position where I can gradually shift more of my attention to making art, and finally say that I have a career in music.
What is your dream project?
Lately I’ve realized that I miss being on stage. In high school, I had a few performing opportunities here and there, and that’s something I really loved doing. I haven’t really had the chance to do the same in recent years now that I’m in university. Every now and then I’ll see an artist performing to a crowd and that’ll make me remember what it felt like when I used to do the same, even when it was just to a dozen people. I miss the energy. I miss seeing people connect to my art in real time like that. I hope that one day I’ll have the opportunity to work on a stage routine and start getting back up on the stage. It's unlikely that I’ll ever be big enough, but my dream project would probably be to do that across the world to thousands and thousands of people.
Where do you get inspiration for your lyrics?
A lot of my more popular songs revolve around topics such as unrequited love, rebounding, getting over someone, and other romantic hardships. I’d have to say my personal experiences are rather limited, so sometimes I have to try to do my best to draw from more familiar emotions to understand what it feels like to be in the stories I try to tell. Sometimes what I write ends up being really similar to a situation I’ve been in, sometimes it’ll explore situations I’ve never gone through and don’t see myself ever getting into in all likelihood. Especially if I’m not writing about my own life, it’s really all about getting into the right mindset and being able to understand the characters I create. For example, my latest release “Lucky Guy” is about someone who has to watch their ex move on with someone else while they’re still hung up on them. I’ve never had to go through that, but I’ve seen enough from the people around me and anime rom coms to piece together what it would probably feel like in a general sense. The goal is to do that well enough so that people can piece together the emotions I have in mind when producing song ideas, which hopefully gets my audience to connect to my music on a more personal level. This is why I’m always honoured when people tell me that a song of mine made them feel a certain way.
What are some non-music influences that have helped you create music?
I mentioned before that being in the right state of mind matters a lot to me when writing, and sometimes I have to draw from other people’s experiences along with other media to get there. To be honest, a good amount of what I write probably has its emotional roots in the anime, movies, and dramas I watched back in the day, which is why the topics can kinda be a bit cliche at their core. At the end of the day though, what I’m aiming to get to are emotions that are common in the human experience. The situations I write about might be made up sometimes, but the emotions definitely aren’t.
Which one of your songs do you resonate the most with?
Well since I don’t always write lyrics that relate to my personal life, it can be hard for me to say I can resonate with my own songs lyrically sometimes. In terms of everything but the lyrics, like the general vibe or the melody, it's also hard to choose since a lot of them are equally created in the image of the music that I emotionally resonate with, hence why my current catalog is mostly ballad type songs. Out of everything I have out now though, I’d probably pick “Snowing in May”. I used a chord progression and melody that I think expresses what I feel sometimes very well. It just so happens that the lyrics I wrote aren’t the closest to what my real life experiences are.
In your opinion, what makes a good song?
I’m in the camp that music is really subjective, and that it’s hard to find music that doesn’t have any objective merits. Good music to me is music that has a purpose and serves it well. That can be anything from serving as a statement, to simply being catchy and marketable. If music is being enjoyed, it’s a net positive, and that’s enough for it to be considered good. Maybe not always on a personal level, but who am I to say that someone else’s favourite song is trash?
How would you differentiate between professional and amateur artists?
The same way I differentiate professionals and amateurs in other fields. To be a professional, you need to have the qualifications to make something your profession. Like the sciences, there's a degree of work and skill that needs to be there for someone to be able to gain the attention and respect of others, or to sustain yourself off your work. By that definition, I’m definitely an amateur. I don’t yet have the opportunity, skill, or pressure to treat music as my profession, to make it the thing that pays for my bills. For now, I’m really just some guy who makes music in his bedroom when he’s not drowning in schoolwork.
If you can describe Toronto artists in three words or adjectives, what would they be?
Passionate, innovative, and focused. I’ve only met a handful myself, and I’m not really well versed in the underground scene or anything, but the people I’ve met embody these traits. Well actually most musicians in general probably do, since more often than not, you gotta have passion and focus to serve as the foundation to your drive, as well as the creativity to innovate and find your own sound and space.
How do you overcome an artist's block?
When I’m not in the right frame of mind to develop a certain idea, sometimes I find it best to just take a break. When I take making art away from my routine, I usually end up missing the creative process too much to not pump out anything. While I was writing my song “Come True”, I really had no clue how to fill in the lyrics. Sitting at the desk and staring at my notepad just didn’t work. It wasn’t until I left the house to go see some friends that I realized that while biking, words and phrases would come to me so much more naturally. The verses of that song were made almost completely on bike rides. Sometimes it’s just better to not force it. My current priorities make it so that I don’t have to worry too much about productivity, so I consider myself lucky that I can put music aside if I really need to, which more often than not, will bring me back to it anyway.
What do you do when you are not doing music?
During the school year, mostly school. I’m working towards a major that doesn’t exactly leave much room for recreation, so I’m going to try to do my best to maintain good enough time management habits to allow for some music making in my spare time. Aside from school and music, I definitely like to take time to go out every now and then, whether that's with friends or alone. Sometimes, the simpleness of just enjoying the weather and the view of my environment can really help refresh my mind. The same goes for just staying in and watching a couple episodes of anime, or cooking myself a good meal. A good balance between all these things are definitely important to keep things going as smoothly as can be.
As a final note, what’s one piece of advice that you would give to future aspiring musicians?
Music is not an easy path for the vast majority of people. It takes a good work ethic and passion to achieve your goals. I’m still someone that has a lot of figuring out to do when it comes to what direction I wanna go with my craft, so perhaps I’m not the most fit to be giving advice, but one thing I don’t think will ever change is my reliance on my love for music. I do music because I love doing it. Yeah numbers and recognition pop into my mind sometimes, but that’s not why I do all this. If it stops being something I love, then I won’t do it. It takes that combination of passion and focus, so don’t lose sight of that. Make music you love so you’ll keep loving music.