[Interview] Project B. Wins Our Hearts with yokoO
By Frank Duke & Kristin Gray
Photos by Kayode Lowo
Ah yes, to be back at the beloved Studio No. 7 on a lovely Sunday afternoon. The perfect place for a fun, day party fix. While this event is historically outdoors, today it was all indoors, it is winter after all.
Adam Hagen is warming the crowd with gentle house melodics that are contrasted with an ever-evolving opaque groove. There is a unique dub tonality in his set that is a standalone staple to Adam’s style.
The crowd is sitting around in the minimal and chic lounge couches, chairs, and ottomans. Having a lazy start to their warm and cloudy Sunday afternoon. We are discussing our experiences of whatever party we went to last night, what we are thinking for lunch, talking about artistic exploration, and sipping on a hangover induced mimosa.
Once our headliner yokoO arrived, the crowd had already begun to stand and get their feet moving. Julien (yokoO) made his way behind the decks, and a lush projection of clouds is illuminated on the brick wall far behind him. The sun was beginning to fall behind the horizon of the earth. A table holding fragrant candles, lanterns, cloth, garlands, and a goat for good measure, brought the unique atmosphere of “All Day I Dream” together.
yokoO situated himself behind the CDJs and synced his iPad to his computer so that he could have control over multiple effect routings. He began his opening statement. The floors, walls, and speakers were already vibrating, one could not help but move with these grooves. His sound perfectly accentuated the exotic smooth sounds of the All Day I Dream imprint, but the music had evolved much beyond that. Mixed into these dreamy, lush tones, was a bouncy, yet darker energy that was yet to fully reveal itself.
Then the kick dropped. This was the moment yokoO’s music swayed from energetic and smooth, to a nice night-time bounce. The transition was beautiful, exciting, and seamless. The whole crowd felt this moment, and responded with “woohoos” and “ali-li-lis” heard from every corner of the dance floor. The energy picked up in pace and everyone was found together as these majestic vibes took us all away.
yokoO stepped down from his 3-hour set as Bobi stepped up to continue elaborating the energy with his bass heavy, middle-eastern, ethic and funky tracks. I danced for a moment over by the booth. As I see Bobi and Julien cheers each other, I smile to myself, happy to see camaraderie between these two inspiring men.
After Julien (aka yokoO) finished his set, he took a short break to chat with us. We walked outside the venue, stood on the curb with a small group of friends, smoked cigarettes, laughed, and got to know one another.
You just finished up on the decks for your show in Atlanta. What steps do you take for your pre-performance process?
I just go through say about 500 tracks and put about 100 aside. Then I just go from there.
You have been releasing a lot of records recently. Tell us a bit about your newest release on Berlin based label, Save Us, and working with the vocalist Seabourne.
That was done a couple years ago actually. I met Larissa aka Seabourne at Kater Holzig in Berlin. She sent me some of her work and I completely fell in love with what she was doing. From there, we started collaborating. We’ve released two tracks on Musik Gewinnt Freunde, which is Kollektiv Turmstrasse’s label. This one on Save Us is our third single and will be released mid-February.
I recently heard that you have been working in the studio with Bedouin while stuck in NY during the snowstorm. How did cabin fever connect you three musically and what has the process been like?
We’re pretty good friends and we were staying together while I was New York. We had been talking about working in the studio for quite some time. I guess the fact that we were all stuck in the snowstorm made it easier. We started two tracks together, which are well on their way. I imagine we could work remotely from here on but am hoping to come back to NYC soon so we can continue jamming together.
You are known to have a producer first mindset. What inspires you to make such unique music? How does this mindset coincide with your DJing techniques?
Really?! That’s interesting. Life in general I suppose. My experiences and the emotions they trigger. I don’t ever have anything in mind when I write music. My feelings and emotions direct the way I compose. My music is a true expression of the way I feel at a given time. Some producers will write for the dance floor, I honestly never try to please anyone with my tracks. I only work for myself. As a result, it doesn’t coincide with the way I DJ at all.
Tell us about the moment that you knew you wanted to make electronic music. Was it a party you went to? An artist you listened to? Or was it the technology that resonated with you?
The very first track I wrote was for my girlfriend at the time. We had just met, and she was going off for a three-week trip to the States. We had just got together, so everything was really fresh between us. I said to her, “Well what am I going to do?" And she said to me, “Well, why don’t you write a track for me.” And this is how it all begun. I wrote a track for her and it turned into an addiction.
What is your life mantra?
Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be.
What can we expect from you in 2016?
Lots of touring! Besides that, I’ll be releasing a few remixes and EPs throughout the year. Oh, there’s a couple of albums in the making - not sure they will see the light of day in 2016 though. I started collaborating with a vocalist from Australia. We’re working on a side project that’s quite different to what I normally do - a lot less club oriented and more concert vibes. The idea is to maybe release on a major label and then work on a live performance for it. Then in addition to that an album on All Day I Dream as well. But honestly, it’s all a bit early to talk about it.
Thanks for spending time with us Julien, we are all very happy to have you in Atlanta and hearing you do your thing!
Actually, I was having so much fun, I’m going to jump back on the decks with Bobi for a bit!
His love for the crowd shone through as Julien stepped back into the booth to finish the night B2B with the beloved Bobi. The intense, immense energy these two put together was indescribable. Dancing became more energetic, faces changed into gleeful expression seeking out every nook and cranny of these sounds.
The crowd drawn by Studio No. 7 is a special one. It’s made-up of those most loyal and dedicated to Project B. and the work they put into bringing us musical talent. We all know each other and revel in the time we have to catch up, share hugs, and dance together in shameless passion. It is a family reunion, this is what Project B.runch is all about…and we can’t wait for the next one.