With the abundance of festivals, club nights and pop-up parties, it can be a bit overwhelming when trying to plan your party-calendar. But if there’s one event that trumps them all, it’s definitely the All Day I Dream series. What began on a Brooklyn rooftop back in 2011, has flourished into an internationally acclaimed party series and community. Bursting with technicolour emotionalism, each event provides a unique atmosphere, backed by an incredible roster of artists to guide you through the day. One of those acts who requires little introduction is Julien Beltzung, better known as YokoO. On Saturday, July 15, join YokoO alongside Lee Burridge and Gorje Hewek & Izhevski at All Day I Dream of Sunshine Divine in Toronto for one of the most anticipated parties of the summer. But first, we called upon YokoO to lead us through this latest edition of the #TourChronicles.
The biggest myth about ‘life on tour’ is…
That us DJs are partying everywhere we go. Life on tour is truly physical, and very much comparable to a marathon. If you do not pace yourself, you will burn out pretty quick.
One of my worst airport experiences was…
Whilst traveling from Sydney to Berlin via LA and Chicago, stand by. It was in 2011 if my memory serves me right. I barely had any money back then and wanted to go build my profile in Europe during the summer. I had a few minor gigs lined up. A friend of mine who worked for United Airlines offered to hook me up with a stand-by “buddy” ticket. I got stuck in Los Angeles airport for about a day. All flights were full and I kept on getting bumped to the next one. I was beyond exhausted and desperate to talk with my partner at the time. My phone was not working. Additionally, I was told there was no WIFI in the airport for security reasons, nor any computers to use. I had no money and felt stranded. Following this experience, I promised myself I would never travel stand-by again.
The best airport for a long lay-over is …
Amsterdam Schipol. I love resting there in the bin bags, listening to the sound of the birds chirping.
One of the most ‘surprising’ gigs within the past 6 months was…
Wonderfruit Festival in Thailand. It was comparable to a mini Burning Man, with lots of dust, workshops and remarkable staging & art structures.
Wonderfruit Festival, Thailand
Wonderfruit Festival, Thailand
Name one new city that you haven’t played, but would like to visit/perform in 2017…
Tokyo, in 2018 maybe. Not sure I’ll ever break through the Japanese market with a DJ name as such though.
One of my favourite venues in the world to play is… why?
That’s a tough one. I could cite very many. In fact, I am blessed enough to honestly say there hasn’t been many venues/parties I did not LOVE playing throughout the last couple of years. I’ll just name a few here . . .
Parties: All Day I Dream – the decoration, the people, the vibe, the costumes and the music mixed together all make the events unprecedentedly magical;
The Tripping Tel Aviv – beachfront Israeli vibes, the overall quality blew my mind.
YokoO at The Tripping, Tel Aviv
Clubs: Flash DC – the acoustic of the room is impeccable and gives me the impression of being in full control, it inspires me to take risks whilst spinning;
DNSF Miami – it’s like having a party in my living room, with my extended family;
Members Only NYC – it’s usually afterhours and complete non-sense.
The Gärten Beirut – fantastic crowd, team, and production, and I get to eat the best hummus in the world before hand.
One of my favourite festivals in the world to play is… why?
Besides Burning Man which is so much more than just a music festival, I would say that SXM in St Martin comes first. The festival is intimate, the line up incredibly solid and the location paradisiac.
This hotel has the BEST food/ room service…
The Plaza Athenee in Paris by far the best French food I ever ate.
Where is the weirdest place you’ve been given a demo?
The US custom waiting line.
One of my favourite local promoters to work with is…
Toronto? I love them all, but Sherry should get a special mention. I am sure we would all agree on that
ALL DAY I DREAM
YOKOO TALKS ABOUT HEADLINING THE FORT YORK SHOWCASE
A music event at Fort York has a certain magic to it. On July 15, 2017, YokoO will be headlining the All Day I Dream showcase. Coming off of a sold out off-Sonar show, Lee Burridge’s All Day I Dream showcase will feature another day of electronic music designed to captivate and elevate their audience. Talent like YokoO, whose dreamy sensibilities and lush electronic compositions, are worth the ticket price alone.
“Every piece I write corresponds to the way I feel at a given time,” YokoO shares. “In other words, my music is the translation/reflection of my experiences and therefore the story of my life, or at least some of its key moments.”
The Berlin-based artist takes inspiration from his travels, but prefers to compose in nature, by the ocean and mountains where he can enjoy “peace and a healthy routine as well as the company of my lover who truly inspires me and helps me compose with a critical approach.” He lists the Maschine by Native Instrument as his “go to” for gear of choice right now.
YokoO recently retreated into a quiet phase of music listening, taking in soundscapes, binaural tones and melancholic classical pieces. “Right now, I seem to be going through a more nostalgic phase,” YokoO continues. “At home, I enjoy all kinds of music I grew up listening to – Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Bjork, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Massive Attack, Noir Desire and the list goes on.”
Listing the Red Hot Chili Peppers as an influence recalls YokoO’s skater background, the inspiration for his DJ moniker. “YokoO is a nickname I was given by my friends as a teen. It originated from a Yoplait TV commercial. Before following a path in the music industry, I was skating every single day. The original cartoon character Yoko de Yoplait was skating too, and we looked alike, hence why my friends named me after him. I added a capital O for aesthetic.”
When asked what is in store for Toronto audiences on Saturday, YokoO remains mum, “I like to think of this as a surprise,” he says.
Electronic Groove: Hi YokoO, thanks for the time to chat with us. How was your first part of the year? Any highlights worth mentioning?
YokoO: The pleasure is mine! The first part of the year was very busy with touring. I’d love to talk in depth about all the places I visited but it may take a while . . . Honestly, I’ve had outstanding experiences everywhere I went. I adored going to Uruguay, Argentina, Peru and the Dominican Republic for the first time in January. The vibe in those countries is something else. The way people danced until the end of the party in Buenos Aires, Santo Domingo and Punta Cana truly blew my mind. Medellin also was incredible. And Mexico of course, I have an ever-lasting love relationship with Mexicans. Thailand’s Wonderfruit festival felt like a mini Burning Man. Australia was great as I took a couple of weeks off to breathe and enjoy the beach. The shows in the US and Canada are always beyond. I have built a solid family in the North American territory over the last 3 years. It has become yet another home away from home. Middle East adventures are always memorable too. Beirut, Dubai – I love. Sandbox festival in Egypt will also remain engraved in my memory forever. Returning to Europe after 7 months away is definitely worth mentioning too, as one of the highlights. Finally flying home to Berlin and finding my own space again, to write music and simply be, is something I do not take for granted when being on the road so much. All shows around here have been special as well. I could go on and on.
I feel blessed and grateful to be working with the people who book me. I seem to always get in with the kindest promoters. Cherry on the cake, locations happen to be ACE every single time. It is all a matter of perspective in the end. All places and people can be appreciated for what they are. I try to see it all as a blessing.
EG: This month you’re part of the All Day I Dream lineup during ‘Off Sonar’ week. What are your expectations about this event and are you preparing anything special for it?
YokoO: This event is sold out. It says a lot about its quality I believe. People get excited and jump on ticket sales right after them being announced. ADID events always are AMAZING gatherings. They are all about love, music for the soul, smiles, laughter, tears and friendly vibes. Attendants are always like-minded music enthusiasts vibrating with-in the same frequency range. It doesn’t get much better in my opinion.
EG: Talking about All Day I Dream, how and where did you meet Lee Burridge?
YokoO: I met Lee through Matthew Dekay, who became a close friend of mine back in the day. He was my mentor in a way. He told Lee about me for a while and we eventually all got to meet together in Berlin for a meal. From then on, Lee and I kept in touch and started working together. The rest is now history.
EG: Based on your frequent worldwide traveler profile, where do you find inspiration for your music?
YokoO: The inspiration comes from the heart, which essentially I see connected to the soul. I express the way I feel through my music. Every experience turns into emotions, which eventually affects the way I put sounds together in the studio. Traveling helps diversify the type of experiences I have, which as a result contributes to a constant flow of inspiration.
EG: Are you working on new material? Can you give us a sneak peek of what’s coming next for you?
YokoO: I am always working on new material, even when I am not in the studio. Based on what I said above, experiencing life in the present moment is a major part of the process. That said, in more concrete terms, I am finalizing my next 2 EP’s for All Day I Dream, one with Retza and one YokoO solo. Additionally, I am still working on my debut album, which I’d love to pitch to ADID as well. I have many others tracks on the go. Keeping busy!
“Every experience turns into emotions, which eventually
affects the way I put sounds together in the studio”
EG: How’s your summer agenda looking like? Any special events you are specially looking forward to?
YokoO: I doubt I’ll be seeing home very much. There will be many a show and I a look-ing forward to them all!! Keep up on my facebook page or website – www.djyokoo.com
EG: You just released your 2016’s Burning Man session. Are you going back to the playa this year? What are your thoughts about the BM experience?
YokoO: I’d like to think so and planned my touring schedule accordingly. I am yet to find a camp to stay, as well as get some tickets so we will see what the universe has in store.
My thoughts? It’s special, very special. I’ve talked about it many times before. I suggest you read my Burning Man sets’ blurbs on Soundcloud. In the end, my thoughts are just thoughts, based on my personal experiences. I suggest you go and find out for yourself.
EG: A few artists have mentioned that one of the perks of touring is having the possibility to experience worldwide gastronomy. Where and what would be your last supper?
YokoO: One of the many perks indeed . . . I would say Peru hands down. I visited a couple of restaurants whilst visiting in April and everything I tried tasted like it came from another world. I am pescatarian, fairly open with food and love it all but Peruvian cuisine, WOW.