YIMBY Arts - "I was lucky enough to make it out relatively unscathed, but I’ve known people who weren’t so lucky." - Stereo Stickman

YIMBY Arts “I was lucky enough to make it out relatively unscathed, but I’ve known people who weren’t so lucky.”


YIMBY – Yes In My Back Yard, are a project that get involved with local housing issues in line with making music. Their channel brings through a wide range of topics, from politics to research, outreach to the gaming community, music, visual arts, etc.

Following the release of their recent Ambient Jams Playlist, we caught an interview with YIMBY Arts to find out more about the music and their hopes for the project in general. Here’s the conversation in full. 

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Hey, thanks for the interview. For those who don’t know, what is YIMBY, and what’s your involvement in or connection to it?

YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) is a grass-roots political movement that focuses on housing issues all over the United States and around the world. It is a reaction against NIMBY (Not In My BackYard), where a lot of affordable housing developments are being blocked by local governments, driving up rent prices and homelessness rates everywhere, especially around the major metro areas in the US.

I volunteer at an organization called Abundant Housing LA as their Online Director in the Los Angeles area, where we are very active in local-level politics.

In what ways does YIMBY help with the issues talked about on the channel?

The nuts and bolts of what we do is showing up to planning commission meetings and advocate for apartments, non-profit affordable units, public housing units – basically anything – that will help to ease the massive housing shortage that we have right now.

Do you think people with personal experience of struggle are likely to be more receptive or empathetic than those with little to none? If so, how do we overcome that?

These issues are a tough thing to talk about because homeowners don’t want to admit that they’re part of the problem, while those getting screwed (which is most of us, frankly) often don’t want to acknowledge the fact that the problem is massive and we are just at the start of things getting any better. But the first step is awareness, and this is what the YIMBY Arts project is all about.

What does the music in this playlist represent or mean for you?

Most of the music in this playlist was made while I was hopping from job to job in San Francisco, where the housing crisis is arguably the worst. A lot of the transitions between sections probably sound as such, too.

I was lucky enough to make it out relatively unscathed, so maybe that’s where the “chill” atmosphere of it comes from. But I’ve known people who weren’t so lucky.

How do you generally compose a new piece – do you decide upon a topic or theme, or do you just toy around creatively and let your emotions and ideas guide you?

Everything in the playlist is done in one take without any edits whatsoever. I do have a process guiding what I do but the music itself is unscripted and done in the moment. If I make a mistake during a take I usually start it all over instead of trying to edit out the “mistakes” that I made – feels more organic that way, at least for me.

Is there an editing process involved, or are these in-the-moment compositions that you keep as they originally come out?

As mentioned above, everything is done in one take. I do have a few classical works where things are more written out but I wanted this project to have a live and direct feeling to it.

Where do you imagine is the best setting in which to experience this music?

People have found that it’s good music to work to, meditate, or sleep to. I’m fine with any of that since as an ambient music artist I don’t expect people to be paying attention ALL the time. Besides, if someone falls asleep to my music, I get to rack up a lot of watch-time, so. 😊

Who or what would you say inspires you the most to create in this way?

I don’t want my music to be anything more than what I’m doing or thinking day to day. I just play, something comes out, and that represents where I am in my life right now and what I’m doing. Nothing more, nothing less.

Which single composition of yours would you recommend to new listeners, and why?

The Frontierland track that I made for the colony-building game Rimworld has been one of my most successful so far, both artistically and popularity-wise, so I would recommend that one. That game is all about trying to survive out in the wild frontier and there was just something about the music and setting that came together in a very natural way. Sort of has a feel where you’re sitting out on the porch.

What’s your main aspiration right now?

If you’ve checked some of the other content on my YouTube/Twitch channels you’ve probably noticed that I’m heavily involved with Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign right now. I’ve been getting a lot of support from the #YangGang that has been very positive and constructive that I’m really grateful for since it’s been good for both my motivation and the channel itself.

What I love about the campaign is mostly the people that are involved with it – lots of people have supported my content even if it was outside of their personal tastes – you don’t get that too often anywhere, really.

Is there anything else we should know?

I used to be an aspiring academic, so you can find a few papers and lecture-style videos on my channel, also. I mean, maybe it’s kind of obvious but I am a nerd of sorts, after all.

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Find & follow YIMBY Arts on Facebook & Twitter.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter