My bedroom is upstairs, 16 steps above Yasmine’s. From here, I have a better view of my little sister than a fan’s front row view at a show (don’t be jelly). For many of you, Yasmine is a star, idol, or role model that you’ve only met through pictures, videos, and songs. What you don’t see are the simplistic, spontaneous, low maintenance, and nurturing aspects of her personality that I get to observe in our day-to-day life.
So here I am, reporting from the frontlines, the secret life of Yasmine Yousaf.
Photo by Hayden Belluomini
Yasmine wakes up at approximately 7AM everyday since we’ve been home focusing on our upcoming body of work (which is about 90% completed, no plug intended). In my groggy state, I can hear her pouring dog food into our dog Scarlette’s metal bowl downstairs in the kitchen. After Scar inhales her food in less than 60 seconds, she takes Scar for a hike. Yasmine never leaves the house without making her bed.
When they return, Yasmine gives our pitbull a detailed body wash on our balcony, where she carefully scrubs in-between the the crevices of her paws with baby shampoo. The dog wash is also an opportunity to for Yasmine to inspect our dog’s butthole to see if she has any funny things happening down there. For someone who doesn’t fancy children, my sister shows such care for our baby.
Following Scarlette’s bath, Yasmine takes a shower while listening to whatever song she is obsessed with at the moment. Sometime she’s listening to Bring Me the Horizon, lately she’s been jamming Twenty One Pilots. The shower does not surpass more than the length of 2 songs, as she is concerned about water wastage in California.
When we leave the house for the studio, she is barely wearing makeup and is usually dressed in a black tank and baggy drop-crotch pants. Almost every day she wears these clunky Doc Martens which are tearing at the soles. They’re the shoes you see her wearing in almost every live show photo for the past few years. She simply will not give them up.
The second we get in our Prius, I get a whiff of her woodsy, spiced, natural men’s cologne. I enjoy the scent so much. On the Los Angeles 101 freeway we listen to our catologue of demos and make notes on how to improve the songs.
Once we settle down in the studio, we talk about our where our heads have been and how we can articulate our feelings into song. When we’re done purging our thoughts and picking each other’s brains, she puts on her glasses and then taps away on her computer tirelessly for 5-10 minutes. When she feels like she’s ready to present her lyrics, she grins to herself and says, “I think I have an idea.” Sometimes she laughs at her self and says, “this is going to be really stupid.” I usually love what she thinks is a ridiculous idea.
Photo by Jack McKain
While Yasmine is recording in the vocal booth, everyone on the other side of the glass is usually blown away by the insanely high notes she can hit. We sometimes joke around and call her a robot when she records doubles of her vocal because they sound so perfectly on and consistent.
If we take a break to order lunch or dinner in the studio, Yasmine almost always offers to pay for everyone’s food. I can tell she doesn’t think twice about expecting anything in return; she’s simply generous. For a snack, Yasmine nibbles on dried mango or roasted hazelnuts from Trader Joe’s.
That brings me to Trader Joe’s. Did you know Yasmine used to wear a tropical button-up shirt and bag groceries at TJs?
On the way home, we stop by her old employer to pick up chicken thighs to cook a Friday night family dinner.
Yasmine makes a killer sweet potato, kale, and almond butter soup. Rustic meals are her specialty, with roasted vegetables infused with fresh rosemary from the bushes in our neighborhood. I feel like a little child waiting for her to finish cooking. If she’s in a beer mood, she loves to enjoy La Fin Du Monde, otherwise she is usually drinking a Malbec from Argentina to accompany our dinner.
Settlers Of Catan is Yasmine’s favorite game (warning: a highly addictive board game that severs friendships and brings out the worst in people). Occasionally she likes to rally a small group of friends together on a weekend night to “settle” around our dining room table.
Photo by muthafuckin me. taken with an iPhone 6.
If she goes out on a weekend, she sometimes comes back home within in an hour, preferring to be in bed, with her head in a book.
In her room she has worn-out plushy Minion slippers, a Funnasyi stuffed animal from fans in Tokyo, juxtaposed with her elegant but aged Steinway piano from Craigslist, and flowy, white curtains. Her room is like Nickelodeon meets Pottery Barn; a blend of juvenile souvenirs and French-country sophistication.
When we grew up in Chicago, we shared a room together. I always knew when Yasmine was asleep because she went in and out of purring like a cat, and snoring like someone slurping the remains of a milkshake. I was on the top bunk, only a ladder away. Now it’s 16 years later, and I’m lucky to only be 16 steps away.
While I can usually tell how long it’s been since she washed her hair, or what her footsteps sound like, I’ve never felt like I’ve had enough. I’ve never been sick of being around Yasmine, despite living together since birth, creating music together, and touring the world together. I still can’t tell when she is PMSing though. I wish I had a sixth sense that could detect hormonal changes.
I’m taking this day, Yasmine’s birthday, to reflect on the power of simplicity in her lifestyle, yet the deep and complex nature of her thought process. Thanks to all of our fans who have paid attention to the details, admired her little quirks, and look past pictures and videos in search of other aspects of her personality.
PS: I am not a stalker. I am just Yasmine’s #1 fan.