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Yazzus – Groove Podcast 405

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Photo: Roberto Brundo (Yazzus)

Yasmine Heinel calls herself a “fan of everything” and if you’ve ever heard one of her DJ sets, listened to her mixes, or checked out a few of her releases as Yazzus, this will not come as a surprise to you. Holding a residency at both Tresor and Mala Junta, the Berlin-based artist has made a name for herself internationally with a slew of records and edit compilations that underline just how much of a, er, Yazz of all trades she is. Her contribution to our Groove Podcast blends 1990s video game with contemporary house and techno in a colourful mix that is 100 % Yazzus precisely it’s full different influences.


You take a lot of inspiration from 1990s rave culture, after first seriously looking into it in the context of academia: while working on your dissertation on grime, you also researched other subcultures. What was it about the rave scene that stuck out for you, both on a cultural and musical level?

For me the UK 1990s rave culture was a colourful period radiating with positivity and it fostered a euphoric environment where technology was not as developed as now, so the music was the focal point of people gathering. The actual music played also reflects this. It’s very fun, doesnt take itself too seriously, it’s energetic and has a lot of drive and groove, which is very much my style today and what I try to retain within. The attitude of the 1990s rave culture was raw and gritty and this resonates with me! I want people to experience this feeling that I didn’t even experience! But it’s like it’s in my soul, so I want to share that, it’s like I’m a time traveller from somewhere I’ve not yet been, woah! (laughs) Another project I did at uni was exploring spirituality and rave culture. What I took from it was that you can fully transcend with music as a form of escapism and fantasy, so within the rave environment this experience can be maximised. Each frequency of the music also extends this idea, the bass grounding you, and the highs elevating your mind.

Your latest EP, UNKNOWN, was released through Never Sleep. One notable influence seems to be dubstep, a constant reference in your work—one of your earliest releases paid homage to seminal DEEP MEDi tracks. What does the genre mean to you?

Dubstep was my first underground electronic genre growing up, having first discovered it around 13/14; and it’s also with grime, I started listening to a lot of it. I even did flyering for under 18 raves at Ministry of Sound just so I could go dance to Chase & Status, Skream, Benga, Flux Pavillion, et al! I also witnessed the rise and fall of both genres once they became commerical around the mid-2010s, but labels like DEEP MEDi had a consistently strong catalogue making their darker, tribal, dubbier releases pivotal during high school, my favs being Silkie and Swindle amongst many more. But with dubstep, it’s just sooo UK and I have many memories of going to dubstep raves at fabric and Dance Tunnel, and how the crowd knows all the same bangers. (laughs) The production of course was always my favourite, the whiplash style frantic percussion and drums are also what you can hear in my style.

In May last year, you also released the third, quite extensive instalment of your Bootlegs series, in which you work across a variety of different genres. Is there a sort of guiding principle behind your selection of the material and how you approach your own rendition of it?

With my bootlegs it’s really a look into editing all my favourite tracks that I listened to growing up and beyond because I’ve experienced every genre and I’m a fan of literally everything! So anything from R’n’B to trap, jungle, hardcore, etc.—it’s also a look into my personal iTunes. I have the same process with the editing part, wanting to experiment with as many genres as possible. That was my intention with the DEEP MEDi pack, transforming dubstep into 160 BPM edits of the footwork and jungle realm was a really nice passion project and that’s why I love and respect the remix process so much. The bootleg collection is about being able to have fun and really experiment, not only using tracks from a wiiide array of artists—we’re talking Odd Future, A$AP Rocky, Destiny’s Child, Madonna to then like Disclosure, Tim Deluxe, Doctor P and The Prodigy. I take many sources of inspiration and mash them all up, so voilà! (laughs)

You generally have become quite prolific as a producer in recent years. What does your current set-up look like and how would you describe your working process?

Honestly it’s been the same since I started, my darling Ableton on my laptop and the AIAIAI headphones that I also use for DJing! I just love the readiness and availability, no matter where I am, I can work easily and fast. It’s also a testament to knowing how you use what you have and not just focusing on what you have, so it’s not all about having the state-of-the-art synths or having a modular set-up. I also love using the computer keyboard to write melodies and drum patterns because I still feel the haptic feedback of making music even on a laptop. I can feel the process and that helps me make some magic! I also am a big fan of using the session view on Ableton first to collect all my ideas across different instruments and effects, etc., to then bring everything into the arrangement view.

You’ve released your Black Metropolis EP on the club’s in-house label and have recently been confirmed as a 2024 resident at Berlin’s Tresor. What’s your relationship with the club and especially the label like?

I first worked with Tresor on their 30th anniversary compilation back in 2021, and was really honoured to become part of that as they described the sounds of the past, present, and future within their legacy. Naturally, the EP conversations followed and again they were big supporters of not only my style but also the themes explored within Black Matropolis, which is reclaiming techno as part of black culture. For me Tresor was the perfect label as they had fostered the Berlin-Detroit axis in the 1990s, releasing artists like Juan Atkins and Underground Resistance, so having that conversation again in 2022 and beyond felt very fitting and welcomed. Last year, I also curated the first Black Metropolis event, taking over both Tresor and Globus and booking DJ Skurge, DJ Soulseek, PSL, Venetta, and more, with this being probably the first event with an all POC line up at Tresor. That was amazing and again very much what my EP manifests, bringing more black artists to the front within these spaces and their unique take on music. I’m planning another curation some time this year.

Besides that, you’re also a Mala Junta resident. Do you prepare for or approach your sets there differently than gigs in other contexts, is there a specific sound you try to bring to Mala Junta parties?

The fun thing with playing Mala Junta is that we often exchange the set times at every party, e.g. with the opening and closing sets. The closing set in particular has become pretty iconic within the group because that’s like a six or more hour-long session and we really get to actually play everything, and I fully mean everything. For Mala Haunted in 2022, there I was dressed up as Sailor Moon, starting off as a typical Yazzus set, high energy, and then halfway, I bring it down to around 125 BPM—I never play this slow—and start playing UK house, stuff from like Basement Jaxx, Grant Nelson, and Junior Jack. Again it was full circle moment, playing music that I grew up with and to a crowd that are so open and would appreciate the natural groove found in this early-2000s vibe! If it’s a normal set time at Mala I usually will play similar to other gigs, but if it’s an opening or closing, or even like playing the Studio room at Basement New York or Horoom nights in Tbilisi, she will give you house, sexier, slower, etc. I really love Mala for this, encouraging me to play everything and be so appreciative of all music styles.

What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?

OK!!! So I feel like the mix actually ties in a lot of things I’ve mentioned here, this is a sequel to a previous mix [for FACT Magazine, ed.] I’ve done where the focus was on 1990s video games and taking video game tracks and making a stunning mix around them. Listen to sounds of Street Fighter, Tekken, R Racing Evolution, and more! This one is more on the housey tip and turns proggy and trancey later on; super sexy super groovy and with a lot of funk! Had a lot of fun recording this, it’s a special one that sees a diff side to Yazzus.

Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?

New music coming, more quirky edits and to continue being able to travel to all corners of the world meeting people and making y’all dance and sweat!

Stream: Yazzus – Groove Podcast 405

01. Keiichi Okabe – Eddy Gordo (Tekken 3)
02. R.I.P Productions – Ibiza – Islington
03. Carpainter – Clock House
04. Hideki Okugawa – Elena’s Stage ~ Beats In My Head (Street Fighter 3 Third Strike)
05. Guchon – Drop It
06. CRYME – London Boy
07. Rom Di Prisco – Win Electro Optik (Need For Speed High Stakes)
08. Elton D – Past Master
09. Kenichi Tokoi – Lovely Gate 3 (Egg Quarters) (Sonic Adventure 2)
10. Regal86 – Good Hit
11. Behne – Eless Di
12. Crime Partners – The Dancing Woman
13. Satoru Kosaki – Momte Carlo (R:Racing Evolution)
14. Fresko – Inner Funk
15. Ray Kandinski – Detroit
16. No Limit (Extreme G N64)
17. Eoin DJ – Invite Delight
18. Cristofeu – Hit
19. DJ Heartstring – SAO PAULO FEVER
20. Hyden – Dumb Monkey
21. Seigg – Pay The Price
22. aykanakdag – Player
23. Hideki Okugawa – Ending 2 (Street Fighter 3 Third Strike)

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