“I had to take it and run with it:” Freshman aims for music industry fame


Courtesy of Harrison SmithMartin

Harrison SmithMartin is Yarou in promo for his album, “NEVER WEARING SUNSCREEN AGAIN.”

Tucker Wulff, Reporter

App State is no stranger to musicians who have reached stardom, and the next big name is on campus. Only time will tell if Yarou will reach the top of App State alumni among names such as Us the Duo and Rainbow Kitten Surprise. With over 8,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone, Yarou’s hip-hop and pop mix is on the rise. 

Yarou, or Harrison SmithMartin as his App State ID reads, is a first-year music industry studies major from Wilmington, where he spent his childhood as a chorus kid in “a big music family,” he said. 

While Yarou doesn’t play physical instruments, his ability to sing, knowledge of music theory and digital production have brought him to where he is today, he said. 

“I kind of rely on my singing for everything I do, and the second I could grab digital production,” SmithMartin said. “I had to take it and run with it.”

Though he got his start in Wilmington collaborating with local artists, namely other musicians and actors in high school, it wasn’t until two years ago that Yarou decided to pursue music as a career. 

“I am still fully aware of how difficult it is to find a career music-wise. You’re freelance, your whole career when you’re in the music department,” SmithMartin said.

But even with those challenges in mind, Yarou has organized a team of close friends to help with different aspects of growing his brand, such as editing, photography and videography.

“It’s growing to a point where it’s definitely more than just me singing. I am really trying to build a team,” Yarou said. “There’s absolutely no way I could do any of this solely by myself.” 

One member of that team is Nora Espinosa, a student at Cape Fear Community College and Yarou’s girlfriend. Espinosa is particularly interested in studying music management when she transfers to App State in the spring semester, and thinks helping with Yarou’s brand is a great way to enter that field. 

“We’re on the way to getting a crew together to really push him off and really get Yarou going,” Espinosa said. “Instead of being like ‘oh, have you heard Harrison’s new song,’ we want to make it just Yarou.” 

Another part of building the Yarou brand is building consistency among the listener base.

“We want people to consistently listen on a month-to-month basis and a week-to-week basis rather than it being release-date-heavy,” Yarou said.

Similarly, Yarou wants his music to be something that people can listen to “whenever and wherever they want,” he said. 

“It’s something you can listen to with your mom, but at the same time, jam to when you’re working out at the gym or something,” Yarou said. 

Most importantly, Yarou hopes to be “something a listener, an audience member, can fall back on whenever they need it.” 

Espinosa, too, thinks the music is something that can uplift listeners because of the amount of dedication Yarou has for every detail, she said. 

“Whether it takes him a day to figure that out,” Espinosa said, “every single lyric is so meaningful and always plays a role in his life.” 

Espinosa firmly believes that “he is going to go far, and he’s going to capture everyone’s attention.”

Though Yarou understands the obstacles he faces, he too finds confidence in his aspirations to become a “household staple,” he said. 

“It seems like a pipe dream, but I’ve got enough confidence in myself and the people I have started building around,” Yarou said.