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Interview with Yilan

I first heard Yilan's tracks at one of the Listening Sessions nights in Birmingham, and witnessed a memorable night where he tore the PST Rooftop (literally!) with a set that featured mostly his own music. At the time, I was putting together a project (Agents of Disruption) and I knew I needed a track off him. Also, he is playing a set this Friday (5th June 2015) at PST in Digbeth so come and shake a leg because that night is just gonna explode - seriously! Anyway, I think Yilan is one to watch, you may not know much about Yilan, so find out and check out his mix at the end of this interview…….

FPZ: How long have you been making music for and what got you into it in the first place?

Yilan: I started playing in a band when I was 13 (2005). Originally I was on vocals/guitar and we played Linkin Park and Blink 182 covers. I started getting into electronic music in about 2007/8 through dubstep which completely blew my mind and made me fall in love with bass music in general.

I decided to give producing a go when another band finished in my final year of uni (2012). By then I was already way more into a variety of stuff rather than just guitar music. I started going to Listening Sessions about a year ago which lead to me starting to DJ towards the end of 2014.

FPZ: I’ve noticed a change in your music that I’ve heard you play at Listening Sessions. Initially, your tracks covered a few genres (like footwork and breakbeat styles) whereas the recent tracks I’ve heard of yours are more ‘techno’ sounding. Especially when you played your first set at ‘Listening Sessions LIVE’, there were so many people vibing and I remember Hollow and me just kept saying that the tunes were on fire. I still remember the set now lol. Was it a conscious thing to change your music? If so, was there a reason behind it?

Yilan: Glad you enjoyed the set man! That was actually my first DJ set ever, so that sort of explains it really -  I just wanted to make stuff that would fit into the kind of DJ set I wanted to play. Before that I'd been getting more into dance floor based music through nights out but I was still mostly making whatever I wanted at home, a lot of chilled instrumental hip hop and ambient stuff. Then I went to Listening Sessions and heard my own tunes on a club sound system, which made me want to try more dance based stuff. I still make a variety of sounds depending on how I'm feeling, but I'll save some of it for some other projects (or probably just keep it on my hard drive).

Techno has definitely been an influence lately but I'll play anything that I really like and fits a set. Most of my own of tunes aren't four to floor anyway. Theres just a ton of quality stuff around that techno/house bpm thats coming out at the moment that doesn't quite fit those tags and I'm really keen to share it with people.

FPZ: You contributed a track, ‘Visibility’, for the ‘Agents of Disruption’ project I’m putting together. It’s a pretty noisy tune! How did the track come about?

Yilan: Thanks, the main lead sound came from messing around with a filter and distortion plugin over a tom tom. I added that distorted kick and built it around those 2 elements. It's definitely one of my noisier/harsher tunes.

FPZ: Have you worked with any other producers? I know that Krytikal did a wicked remix of one of your tracks. Have you got anymore things like that in the pipeline? Also, have you got any releases coming up?

Yilan: Krytikal did a great job remixing 'Contortion'. The original will be coming out on a compilation on Rawganics later this year.

I've worked with The Deviant on a hip hop track for his EP, and I've just finished a remix of Krytikal's track 'Illusions' (the original was released on the Futurepast 'Light of Day' compilation!). Apart from that I've got a few unfinished bits here and there, hoping to collaborate a lot more in the future.

(FPZ: No one told me about this remix!!! Lol. I need to hear this!)

FPZ: How did u hear about listening sessions?

Yilan: I was searching for some music production tips and tutorials online and found the 'Birmingham Producers Community' group. Someone posted the second Listening Sessions event in there and I thought I'd head down and check it out even though I knew literally no one there and I was by myself. Everyone was really friendly and it was great to talk to other people who were deep into their music too. The tunes that get played there are such a high standard and the vibe was great. I went a few times before I felt ready to bring some tunes down but 'Hoods Up' got a really good reaction and I was so surprised. Every time since then I've met more people making some really sick music. I cannot big up Listening Sessions enough!

FPZ: What's your influences and what music artists do you look up to or draw inspiration from?

Yilan: Anyone in any field who just does something a bit different. I like music with a focus on bass and a sense of space especially. Hodge is absolutely killing it at the moment. I love how Four Tet just plays whatever the hell he wants in a set. Mumdance, Objekt, Blawan, Gantz, Dyl all make crazy stuff. Away from the dance floor I'm really loving Fis recently and TCF. I also love post-rock bands like Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You, that music is so cinematic. 

Burial will probably always be the most played thing on my iPod by far though.

FPZ: How do you approach making music?

Yilan: I just usually mess around with samples or maybe put some drums together, mashing different ideas, resampling. I want to get more into synthesis so I can create the sounds I want to hear more quickly. I try out whatever ideas I think of, but I've learnt to just let go of any ideas that don't work to just try and finish the tune in the past few months.

FPZ: Tell me a bit about the mix you put together.

Yilan: This mix has got some tribal sounds and a few of my own recent tunes too amongst ones from Troy Gunner, Hodge, Pearson Sound and Lurka. Things get a bit more spacey and weird at the end.

Finally, I just want to thank Rawtrachs from Futurepast Zine for doing this interview and hosting my mix, hope you enjoy it. A massive thanks to all the Listening Sessions family too!

FPZ: Check Yilan out!
Photographs of Yilan courtesy of B Harvey Photography
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