Having contributed original material and high-caliber remixes on well-regarded labels such as All Day I Dream, Get Physical Music, Watergate Records and L’enfant Terrible, YokoO should be no stranger to anyone.
YokoO and Retza make their return to Lee Burridge’s All Day I Dream imprint with four wonderful tracks – furthering their emotional reach on the musical universe. Listening to the release, it strikes us with an well-balanced mixture of delicate strings, emotive melodies and perfectly shaped bass lines. His groove-driven and dreamy productions leave behind a certain connectivity, which is best experienced live on the dance floor.
In honour of his recently released ‘Euneirophrenia’ EP on All Day I Dream, we had a little chat with YokoO about his summer, Burning Man, the thoughts behind his collaboration EP with Retza, and the upcoming All Day I Dream of Winter Sun event during this year’s Amsterdam Dance Event, which you can attend here.
First things first, what have you been up to recently and how are you?
Life of late has been a constant journey on the road. I have been keeping busy with gigs as well as working on the third chapter of my podcast series. I am great at this exact moment. I experienced a small burnout. My system was running on hyper drive. I took Burning Man’s week off to go to Tulum by myself and pressed the rest button then. I feel much better, and have a lot of energy to share again since.
We’ve heard you’ve had a busy summer! Any highlights?
It was quite busy indeed. I played about 50 shows between the beginning of June and the end of September. It’s difficult to pin point the highlights, as all shows proved to be special and memorable in their own ways. Piknic Electronik in Montreal was certainly the stand out due to its size. Playing to an almost 10k people crowd for the first time, without losing this sense of connection, is not something I’ll forget any time soon.
You’ve played burning man for a few years in a row now. What the craziest experience you’ve had so far?
Only twice really… 2015 and 2016 are the only two years I ever attended and spun at BM.
Being caught up in what felt like a never-ending dust storm in the deep playa, incapable of finding our way back to the Esplanade, was certainly one of the most challenging things I went through at Burning Man. Something extremely strange happened out there. I remember my lover and I walking straight for so long and returning to the same point twice, like we had been walking around in circles, as if the universe was playing tricks on us. It was a truly mystical experience!
How is playing burning man compared to the rest of the world? Obviously every place should be treated as its own, but Burning Man is such an insane place. Does this change the way you play?
The place is not insane. It is pure magic. The lack of connection inspires people to embrace the present moment for what it is, taking everything in as it comes and being fully with it. Attendees are much more receptive to the energy that surrounds them. The vibe resulting from this is next to none. Having such a large variety of places to play at with the most open minded crowd definitely leads to more room for experimentation.
Where you an attendee before you played the festival?
I was not. The first year I went was to play and share my musical vision with my fellow burners.
How about during ADE. Will we see an experimental side during the All Day I Dream event?
I tend to associate “experimental” with abstract music, which usually is not designed for the dance floor. I imagine people would freak out if I played abstract electronica. ADID’s brand name has grown following a particular vibe that somehow makes the level of experimentation restrictive. That said, I seem to always peel some layers and mess with the sounds as I go, depending on my mood. It keeps things interesting for me also.
If you really want to get weird and experimental with me, it’s best to catch me outside of the ADID events, and most probably outside of the club environment also, where I am playing for an extended period of time.
Speaking of All Day I Dream, you’ll be releasing an EP called ‘Euneirophrenia’ on the label soon, the title being a subtle jab back at the label. Care to elaborate?
The track is quite dream-like to me, coherent in its incoherence and vice versa. It’s a trip deep down to la la land, with percussive drum grooves leading the ride, filtered orchestral strings lifting the soul, and a blend of random melodic lead elements, subtle pads, elephants crossing imaginary roads, cars honking . . . all supporting a mysterious-for the dance floor-atmosphere. An atmosphere ADID is notorious for.
What was the main inspiration for the EP?
Not one in particular, but all my personal experiences and the emotions resulting from them.
Can you let us in on your production process for the EP, what was your setup like?
Besides Euneirophrenia’s core idea, which was conceived in Retza’s Melbourne studio, all was made in my Berlin home. I finished Euneirophrenia by myself. Retza and I started the three other tracks together upon his Berlin visit in summer 2016. I finalised all arrangements and added the finishing touches as he left.
The set up is pretty basic on my end and involves Ableton Live, various virtual instruments, some midi controllers, the Maschine Studio, a TR-8 and a Prophet 08.
Is your setup constantly changing, or have you found a setup your comfortable with?
My set up at home is usually the same, unless I borrow toys from friends. I don’t normally travel with any gear unless I go for extended periods of time. Then, I take my production laptop and use whatever other piece of equipment I come across that I connect with.
If you had to give credit to one external item or factor for the EP, what would it be?
The woman I love. She has been the angel who facilitated my awakening in the remembrance of my purpose.
What else inspires you, outside of music?
Life in general and absolutely everything it involves. The source is infinite.