After his track, 'I Don't Often Feel Like This', released on our recent Compilation #9, we invited Yuki Ame over for a chat! We were fortunate enough to see him perform at Birthdays the night before in which he played an incredible set, showcasing the progression in, and diversity of, his productions
We discussed his online growth, vaporwave, his club night 'Semi-Peppered' and everything in-between! Enjoy the read!
He’s come over to the Loose Lips house to chat with us… we’ve made you a nice sandwich, with blue cheese but you didn’t want cucumber! Do you want to introduce yourself and describe your style?
I’ve been making tunes electronically for two or three years now. I started off very hip-hop influenced, doing some stuff with MC’s. I moved to Bristol in 2014, and started getting more into bass/electronic music, techno, and trying to incorporate that into my sound. Last night was the first example of combining it all together with some singing as well… I don’t actually know how to describe my style.
That’s why we thought you would fit perfectly on the compilation, you’ve got that mish-mash of styles with loads of different influences…
It’s like broken versions of every genre!!
Tell us about the track we released on our last Loose Lips compilation album...
"I Don't Often Feel This" was one of the first tracks where I started to experiment with my own audio recordings in the same way I'd previously made hip hop tracks. I ran my Casio CZ3000 through an old marshall amp and got some really warm fuzzy sounds, which I then manipulated with a Lauryn Hill acapella to make the track. It was made during the aftermath of a techno night, so I wanted to try and snapshot that lucid period of time between leaving the club and falling asleep in the early morning.
How did your gig at Birthdays come about last night?
So VICE contacted me and asked me if I wanted to come down. I hadn’t heard of Tkay Maidza (the headliner) but she's a really talented girl who came all the way from Australia for the gig.
When I was first introduced to your tunes, they had more of a pop feeling to them, both in the elements and structure… now you’ve kept some aspects of that and you also have this more alternative bass-driven sound underneath… how has this transition come about?
I think Mount Kimbie were one of the original aspirational artists for me. I heard them when I was like 14 or 15. Their sound has these pop melodies which are stretched rhythmically and melodically over a track until its quite dissonant and then it comes in to this beautiful mix of all the harmonies. So with my stuff, I think it was easier to start making these kinds of melodic poppy sounds and then to combine the electronic aspect of it… as I got better at drum production and was DJing more, you just learn more about structuring your tracks. When I first started it was like Mount Kimbie, Sbtrkt, James Blake...that kind of post-dubstep era, I grew up with that. Then I started self-releasing, at first under my own name, quite unsuccessfully! I wanted to make poppy music but I didn’t feel I could release under my own name, so I created an anonymous alias to try to remove that issue - it just allows you to release whatever the fuck you want, without any preconceptions on your music. There’s no gender or ethnic issues; for internet listeners, I could be Japanese female, and I quite like that. And now, as my music has developed, I don’t feel the need to be quite as anonymous but I decided to keep the name.
It’s interesting you saying about the idea of an online reputation or persona, because you’ve got quite a big following online...but when we were chatting before, you were saying quite a lot of people are over in the US, how did that come about?
So this was like two years ago, there was this new style called vapour-wave which swept the online scene. It was Oneotrixpointnever, (Daniel Lopatin)… still one of my favourite artists, who kind of spear-headed it, with a lot of experimental stuff he did some on tapes called Chuck Pearson's Echo Jams. These were amazing, and then that got commercialised a bit - anyone with Ableton started slowing down future funk songs and calling it vapour-wave… but for me that was perfect as a teenager. So yeah, I started producing my own take on vapour-wave, so slowed stuff down, but then chopped it with electronic drums and synths, building tracks out of it. It got properly taken up by the online community, but then I got a little bit fucked over really. I was in a little online collective called ‘BaeWave’ - (everyone’s got a guilty secret) - and yeah, my track ‘Tsuki’ kind of blew up on Reddit, and it was going up to like to like 150,000 in a few days and then the label just removed the Soundcloud account… everything was gone and I just had to restart from there. But, the music did well, so I didn’t really loose faith in my own music...I just became a lot more conservative and just wanted to self-release more.
For the future, do you want to balance self-release with labels?
Yeah, although I’m quite keen to work with other artists, and I’m more keen to get involved with labels now. With my music now, I’m sampling a lot of different stuff, like grime acapellas. We have our own little imprint in Bristol, Semi Peppered - we have started to do some digital releases and may move towards pressings.
Tell us about Semi Peppered - how long has that been going and what’s the idea behind that?
It’s a little family really, like Loose Lips. We started about 8 months ago...3 of us - myself, Joe and Evan from Manchester. I’m originally from up north, so that was like the connecting factor. We started doing disco nights, putting on little raves, and we have a residency now - a little underground club called the Doghouse - we do techno, breakbeat, acid-house, house, disco, dub… its lovely because for me, moving to a city, it’s what I wanted to find in the music scene there: the people that are there for the music. There’s a nice community vibe with it. Bristol is so eclectic. I think influentially, a lot of my mates moved to Bristol with Bristolian bass music in mind...Kahn & Neek etc…but I came without hearing a lot of this stuff. It’s not my favourite music yet but I do really indulge in it. I love how you’re surrounded by all these different genres that influence you, and you constantly get really exciting artists and labels emerging such as Timedance, Batu, Lurka… loads of people doing interesting things.
Your live set last night, tell us about that… is that a new set you’ve created?
So that set was created over the past month, and that was the first piece of continuous music I’ve done, a 40 minute set. The project name was ‘Return to Ishimuru’, based upon the Japanese aspect of Yuki Ame. Ishi Muru is this great big Japanese space ship and the concept was yeah, it had landed somewhere in London and you have all these people trying to make it back to the spaceship, through these dystopic parts of London. You've got your jungle beats and techno and house and it’s all mashed together… it’s kind of dreamy. I’m fascinated by dreams and the visual aspects of a project. In visual art, artists portray these dreamy states very well, and I think it’s almost easier to. I think musically, less artists do this … it can be a bad thing to have your music described as dreamy...it can imply that your music doesn’t have any kind of solidity, but dreams are what motivate me. If you sit down and say you’re going to make a house song, then you’re working within set boundaries… if you describe the song you want to make in terms of images or emotions then you got more open play, or potential to do whatever you want.
Last night your mate last night described your music as ‘‘everything that’s good in electronic music at the moment combined with Ian Curtis’’ !
I grew up listening to northern bands like New Order and Joy Division. I liked the fact that a lot of these artists were singing because they wanted to express things…you know, it added to the music. You can have a great singer but I’m much more interested in what you can add lyrically to the music. Even if my voice isn’t always in tune, it can be a good thing… you get these shifting dissonant tracks.
You had effects on the mic last night?
Last night it was with a sound engineer called Luigi, who put a bit of delay on the mic.
Simple, but it sounded wicked man. Tell us about your recent studio work…
So I started producing with some other artists in Bristol...mostly with people doing some different things to me. I started working with Jose Blakelock, who effectively is a singer-songwriter who sounds a bit like a female Thom Yorke. I heard her play and was drawn in straight away by her voice...since, we’ve made 3 tracks - pretty heavy electronic production and quite UK as well, with the guitar and haunty vocals … they'll hopefully be out soon.
What I think is also really great about your music is how applicable it is. For example, in the realm of licensing...for games and advertising etc… is that something you consciously think about when you’re making music?
The artist I mentioned earlier, Oneotrixpointnever…Daniel Lopatin.. who did "PC music" for the sake of it...that was a kind of dystopian look on advertising in which he deliberately made and sampled songs that could be elevator music. I loved the aesthetic of that and so there’s no doubt that’s a feature of my productions. Other things like Kavinsky’s ‘Drive soundtrack’, and AJ Cook’s ‘Beautiful’, are really great. They are killing it in their own way.
Have you got more live sets coming up?
22nd September in London, at Bermondsey Social Club with Jadu Heart. And there are a couple of Bristol dates; 8th October with Semi Peppered and then a Halloween gig with Sophia Louzou and some other artists!
Interview conducted by Frederick Sugden & Jef T-Scale.