[Interview] Yuksek Just Wants To Make You Groove
The day that Yuksek's debut album, Away From The Sea, graced my ears back in April of 2009 was the day my standards for what an electronic album should sound like were raised to such an insanely high level that only a handful of artists/records have managed to meet since. 8 years, 12 EPs, 3 LPs, and a plethora of remixes and various other projects later, the French producer and DJ has firmly cemented himself as a staple in the dance scene by meticulously making music that will have you dancing until daylight. Literally. I was literally out until 3am last month at his DJ set at Le Bain a few hours after he graciously chatted with me at his listening party in SoHo for his latest album, Nous Horizon, which was released in February.
"It's more the music drives me than me who drives the music,"
He explained that his approach for making albums is less intentional and more of the byproduct of constantly creating. "I'm not thinking, 'I'm gonna do this kind of record,'" he said, "I just sit in the studio every day. Sometimes doing production for others. I [also] started to make movie scores and stuff. In between I do some stuff for me, just like tripping on a synthesizer or playing bass or something." He went on to detail how this sort of creative process turns into an album, "I record and record and record a lot of stuff and then something comes together like a puzzle in a way." This may sound daunting for some artists, but for him it's an integral part of the process. "It's more the music drives me than me who drives the music," he said.
While Away From The Sea and Living On The Edge Of Time were both more on the indie/pop spectrum of dance records, his latest endeavor, Nous Horizon, is definitely more disco-esque than anything he's released to date. Even so, there is one core element to all things Yuksek related: groove. "I'm good for that: making people groove," he noted. As he put it, at the end of the day his music is all about, "feeling good, enjoying yourself, and having a good time."
Unlike his previous albums, you'll notice that this time around that some quality artists appear alongside Yuksek on Nous Horizon: HER, Monika, Juveniles, KIM, and Roman Rappak, vocalist of SKOA favorite Breton. These were more than just your standard features on dance tracks, mind you. "It's called featuring [on the track listing] but I think the word is not exactly accurate," he said, "[...] featuring is sometimes you make an instrumental, you send it to someone, and then like [they] do your shit. On this we did it really old fashioned. They came to the studio. We worked together on the songs as well."
The only criteria for working with Yuksek in any capacity is fairly straightforward: he has to like the artist both personally and professionally. It's something I've continued to admire about him. It's amazing that for such sophisticated music there's zero pretense to how he operates. This is especially the case for both his album and his label, Partyfine, which he started in 2013 as a way to elevate talent that oftentimes might slip between the cracks otherwise. "I thought about [starting the label] for quite some time. I like to produce music for other people and to make records," he explained, "Sometimes it's a bit frustrating to do it and then the project disappears after I finish mixing it or producing it. [With Partyfine] it's more having relationships with artists and to help them to reach the goal they have with their music."
Considering he's both an artist and a label owner, of course I had to pick his brain about streaming. While most people assume that a record will either be a hit or a dud immediately, he sees releases now from a different perspective, "[...] what you release now, I don't know about in 50 years, but in 3 years people can hear it still and you get money from that. Even if it's a small amount of money but it's here." Moreover, he thinks that streaming gives albums a longer shelf life than what existed prior to streaming. "In the past, when you just released an album on vinyl or CD in a shop, when it's not in the shop anymore it's finished. No one can buy it and so it's long term. That's what's interesting with streaming," he noted, "You create a catalog like you do with a publishing company. You know that [like a publishing deal that streaming is] long term because you [have] tracks that are maybe going to be in a movie or in something in 5 years. Streaming has to be seen in that way I think."
Funnily enough, as I was writing up this interview I decided to refresh my memory of his earlier EPs, which resulted in me wandering to eBay to pick them up on vinyl. Thinking he might be on to something there.
As you can see, Yuksek is some kind of awesome. Be sure to pick up his latest album, Nous Horizon and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Soundcloud. Oh! And check out his label Partyfine, which is currently prepping some upcoming releases as we speak!