YokoO is no stranger to house music in all its deepest forms. A studio head in the true sense of the word, he spends much of his time pondering basslines and warm synth riffs that heat up dancefloors the world over. With releases on highly regarded labels such as All Day I Dream, Musik Gewinnt Freunde, Kindisch, Get Physical, Moodmusic and Plastic City, YokoO has marked out a spot for himself in the global house music scene with talent being sought after from every corner of the world.
His musical intuition drives his production and his full groove based approach to seductive house music turns heads of many a label boss from Kollektiv Turmstrasse, Matthew Dekay and Lee Burridge no less. As well racking up plays from industry reference artists, YokoO’s music has proven time and time again it can reach the record bags of the DJing elite in every continent.
As a DJ, YokoO embraces the dancefloor with a dynamic and honest approach sparking it up with forward thinking music every time. When you see him play, you can see a genuine love for what he is doing and that naturally feeds back to his audience, fuelling energy and the fever of the dancefloor. The warm melodies work with the heavy basslines to create a unique sound that is deep but still pumping enough to get a party started . . . and going way passed sunrise.
We had a chat with YokoO, giving us a glimpse on his side of the decks. Here’s what happened:
1. Let’s get the obvious question out of the way first, is your name related to Yoko Ono?
Not at all! To be honest with you, besides knowing that she is John Lennon’s widow, I know nothing about her. YokoO is a nickname I was given by my friends as a teenager. 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 aesthetics.
2. How would you define your music for a time-traveler from the 60s?
Most likely the same way I would describe it to anyone else. It feels like a warm hug on a cold winter day. I like to think of it as healing, soft, deep, moody and soul touching. It evokes emotions and inspires inner exploration.
3. From Burning Man to hundreds of festivals around the world, tell us about what you try to bring to these festivals and what you take from them.
Through the music I play and the way I deliver it, I aspire at spreading light and sharing LOVE. It’s as simple as that. I think of my sets as dynamic, harmonic and somehow healing journeys. I seek to drive people to step away from their egos, walk out of their minds and open up to one another. I aim at turning the floor into a family reunion where everyone shares smiles, hugs, and dances together in shameless passion.
4. Your experience as a DJ travelling the world playing music to thousands of people is life-changing gift that comes with many lessons. Tell us about some of the highlights of your journeys?
It sure is a gift. The power one is given when performing in front of people is considerable and should be used [wisely]. It is easy to lose yourself when you are given this much attention. Ego tends to get in the way. It takes strength and humility to overcome this. In recent times, I came to understand that essentially, I was not solely doing this for myself, but for everyone around me who is open to receiving, to lift their spirits and heal their souls. Something larger than my own personal well-being is at stake, I am responding to the call of destiny. Obviously, every moment and experience in my life has played its part in my evolution as a human being. That said, the last couple of years of pain and heartache that I have gone through have taught me the most significant lessons. I could go on for a while telling you about them . . . Here are a few that come to mind as I write this. The complexity of our minds reflects the infinity of the universes – bypass the outer world distractions and focus on your inner self – here, the answers to all your existential questions can be found. Find who you truly are, and always stay true to yourself. Are you doing what most excites you? As nicely stated by a friend of mine a few days ago, excitement and passion are the compass needles that point you to your true magnetic North. Use imagination and intuition to go through whatever doorways are needed to create opportunities where you can act upon your excitement. Only from the frequency of excitement/joy/passion/bliss/peace will you be able to perceive the opportunities that exist for you.
YOU can only perceive what you are vibrational [I THINK HE MEANS YOUR VIBRATIONS?] match with. Be patient; trust in the process and its divine timing. Nothing is ever permanent on this plane, beware of attachment; do not take anything for granted; avoid expectations; be kind; treat everyone equally, you are not better than anyone else; hurt someone and you will hurt yourself, we are one; do not worry, worrying is a misuse of imagination; do not search for happiness, you already have it within you – be present; human life is a gift, appreciate each and every single moment with the highs and lows; give as much as you can, share; do not judge; remember that everything happens for a reason, be positive, accept, and learn from your experiences; smile, laugh, love, and let go of what does not serve you.
5. It’s obvious that your music is influenced by many cultures, how do your experiences feedback back into your music?
The sounds I record throughout my travels always find their way into my productions. More importantly, every piece I write corresponds to the way I feel at a given time. The way I feel at a given time is the result of my experiences. 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.
6. You’ve brought happiness to hundreds of people, whether on dancing floors or listening at home, describe your happy place.
7. If you weren’t a musician, what would have you been?
I’d like to think I could have been a philosopher or an astronomer.
8. Name 5 non-electronic tracks that have shaped you as a person.
Saying that I was shaped by 5 tracks would be quite a lie. Although music has played a major role in my self-development, I would not be able to provide you with such a short list. Way too many songs and genres influenced me from my childhood to the present.
9. Any artists working today that you would like to work with?
I am sure I’d be able to learn an infinite amount of fresh production techniques with anyone making music out there but besides Bjørk, I can’t say I dream to work with anyone in particular.
10. Let’s talk a bit about the new release. Tell us a bit about it!
It features three original tracks. “Magnetic Souls” & “Equuleus” were made in collaboration with my very talented friend from Melbourne Niklaus aka “Retza”, while “The Akashic Records” is a solo project.
Now, for a bit of insight . . . I started “Magnetic Souls” a couple of years ago as I was going through a rough emotional time and dived into the concept of soul mates, twin flames etc. I made several different versions of the track but never quite finished it. After meeting Niklaus at ADID Melbourne end of 2014, I sent the project to him hoping to get a collaboration started. He was very enthusiastic about the idea and we revisited the track together, working on the project back and forth. Everything was flowing magically. It didn’t take us long to complete it. From that moment, I understood that not only, I wanted to keep producing with him, but also that I wanted to get him involved with ADID. It was the beginning of a new partnership. The core of “Equuleus” was made by Niklaus. Once he got stuck with the idea, I added a little mystic to it – worked on the structure, sound design, and finer details. Why the name “Equuleus”? Umm.. I think that’s where Nik came from.
Lastly, “The Akashic Records” is a piece I composed on my own, last year. It corresponds to a time when I was seeking answers to many existential questions. The Akashic Records are a dimension of consciousness that contains a vibrational record of every soul and its journey. This vibrational body of consciousness exists everywhere in its entirety and is completely available at all times and in all places. As such, the Records are an experiential body of knowledge that contains everything that every soul has ever thought, said, and done over the course of its existence, as well as all its future possibilities. I felt deeply connected to this concept and wrote the track as I was learning about it.
11. How do you feel it differs from your previous releases?
Each and every single release of mine is different as it relates to a different period of my life, and therefore to different experiences. But this is ADID music, not any other label’s. Essentially, that’s what makes it different to any other releases I have had. Matthew and Lee refused to sign many of the tracks I sent them throughout the first year and really pushed me to work harder. It was discouraging at first but certainly got me somewhere in the end. I did put a lot of time and effort into this first ADID EP. Having Retza involved made it reach a whole new level of quality.
12. Tell us about your creative process while producing a track?
It depends on my state of mind I guess. I may start with something I sampled, a drum groove, a field recording, a melody, or some vocals. I barely have a set idea when I begin a new track. I usually experiment with sounds and see what comes out. The feelings and emotions at a given time constitute the driving force.
13. Aside from the music you make, is there a genre in music that you would like to explore but haven’t gotten around to dive into it yet?
I’d love to work with orchestra musicians and get a live show happening. All in good time . . .
Check YokoO’s at Burning Man’s Robot Heart Bus from last year:
or check his website out: djyokoo.com