Alexis Yakes, M1, Class of 2023
“Alexis Yakes is from Denver, Colorado. She was a concert pianist as a child, and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, as an undergraduate majoring in Contemporary Writing and Production. She then attended New York University in New York City, New York, in order to obtain prerequisites necessary for Medical School through the Post-Baccalaureate program. She has worked multiple career trajectories including personal training/fitness instructing, assistant producing/radio programming, and bartending. She is currently a Doctorate of Medicine candidate class of 2023 at the University of Kansas. When not studying, she can be found hanging out with her two dogs, Gibson and Bunny, the loves of her life.”
I would have to say [that I got interested in music through] my parents. Some of my earliest memories consisted of listening to music with them. My musical experience was fortunately very diverse. I was exposed to many genres and artists including Rachmoninoff, Patsy Cline, Joni Mitchell, Nat King Cole, Smokey Robinson, Queen, Miles Davis, Pearl Jam and Led Zeppelin. It’s fair to say this range of genres grossly inspired my major and composition style.
[Something I really enjoy about music is that] music brings people together. It establishes a common ground and sense of understanding of the world in a perspective outside of one’s own. I think music brings more color into life and compliments the human condition. It personally helps me to gain a better understanding of situations within my own life and provides a platform to say how I feel when I can’t find the words. I don’t think I’ve ever lived a day without music nor would I ever want to. It enhances daily life and heals the soul.
The piece I provided, called, “Market Street”, was inspired by Denver history. It’s a commentary on late 1800’s Night life on the notorious Market Street in downtown Denver, with a gender role reversal. I began writing the lyrics one night when I was out on the town with friends walking that street. Upon returning home, I started playing around on the piano. I focused on a campy whimsical style to compliment the lyrics through a modern “ragtime” remnant interpretation of an acoustic piano tune. This then grew into the song itself. I generally tend to start with a mood and allow for the music to come to fruition.
The first song I ever wrote was in eighth grade. I had a big crush on this cute boy and was inspired to put my feelings into a song. We ended up becoming good friends and he still critiques my compositions to this day. After that first composition completion, it felt like songs were flowing out of me almost daily. I found myself writing lyrics on anything I could find including receipts and scraps of paper, then running home to my guitar or the piano. My poor mother had to endure a lot of ear strain during these times of finding my voice and I am forever grateful for her continual support in that process.
As a young writer, [my inspiration for my compositions came] from boys and crushes. As a matured I began writing more about family, history, funny situations, and real-life stuff. Sometimes I find the inspiration post-composition, which is always interesting to me.
I think it’s important to follow one’s passions and in doing so balance comes naturally. While studying on the pre-medical track, I had the privilege of being a member of the NYU Jazz Choir, directed by the infamous Ira Shankman. During my tenure I performed with members of the Metropolitan Opera, at Anne Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, on Good Morning America, and a toured Prague. We sang repertoire consisting of a wide range of contemporary periods and styles.