Photo by: Abbie Fowler
After a successful debut at Berghain, Manchester based YANT spoke with Playful about how it all started and shared some advice for newcomers out there.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into DJing and producing music?
"To start with, I grew up in a small town in Lancashire in the North West of England. It’s a place where there isn’t much going on, in the middle of the countryside, but it’s a nice place to walk and get outside. I think growing up I could find myself bored but I think that bred some creativity inside of me, and a bit more imagination.
Over time it became more unlikely to see anybody outside, everyone was in front of an Xbox or a computer, including myself I was always into technology messing up my gran’s computer and having to fix it, and then I dabbled with the creative aspects like graphics design, 3d design, video editing, but I found my path with producing music. My passion for music was always there, despite the urge I never owned a classical instrument, my involvement though really ignited when my older brother brought back a mix cd after his first week at high school. When he played it to me, my automatic response was “that’s shit” because we’d fight a lot and I didn’t want him to have the satisfaction of showing me something new that changed me, although over time I gave in. I was hooked, I was the DJ he was the MC - lucky to get some Megamix CD decks as a present one year around the age 12. I had no idea what I was doing at that time, I just saw videos of people mixing and scratching and knew I wanted to be a part of it. Shortly after, I started producing on FL studio (mostly dnb and UK bass music) and was able to hunt down a few older people doing a similar thing in the same town. They were all important people in my path so far, a guy called Duncan was the one to introduce me to Techno and one of the first people I played for at a local event, he also shaped my ethics toward the music scene, along with the Apoco sessions crew. It was very much a DIY thing, Apoco bought their own turbo soundsystem and we’d carry it up 4 flights of stairs to the room, often in the back room of a pub filled with smoke and sweaty friends and all sorts of bass music. The place had a hard time getting us to leave, my first Techno set they unplugged the sound system since we wouldn’t turn it off, but I think in the end it was turned on and off about three times until we left. Looking back, we should’ve been more respectful seeing how easily club licenses are revoked here, but it was fun."
"Since that era, moving to Manchester was the next stage in my life and it’s now my home, I’ve been here over 7 years."
What are some of your biggest musical influences and how do they inspire your work?
"Definitely a strong influence from Drum & Bass, the likes of Goldie and Ed rush & Optical, that kind of gritty raw phat analogue sound. Goldie for the deep feeling in his music, especially with Timeless, that dark melancholic but yet soulful part. I have many influences since I listen to a lot of styles of music, I feel like I’ve had periods with everything and now I know what it is and I can listen when I want it, I’m not a closed book in this way and I wish some people would be a little bit more open to trying things. As a side note, maybe the bounce era I went through added a hint of playfulness to my music and reminds me not always to take things too seriously haha."
Manchester and Berlin, two cities with a massive impact on the music scene. What would you say differs and connects them?
"I’m definitely a little bit biased, but I think there is a very warm feeling here in Manchester (the people, definitely not the weather). When you go to an event like Meat Free everyone is smiling, into the music and out to create a good vibe for each other, we don’t take it for granted, everyone talks to each other, you see a lot of regulars and get to know each other and it’s more like a party feel to it. It all feels like a big family and intimate."
"Berlin definitely has a larger Techno scene in terms of the scale, the venues are much bigger, soundsystems for the most part are more thought about, and of course you win on opening hours. I love both!"
"The main connection is that we definitely both know how to party haha"
What role has Berlin played in your career?
"I’ve visited countless times now, and it opened up my perspective to a city which still protects its scene. It showed me how intense a dancefloor experience can actually be. I’ve played in Berlin multiple times now and released with artists and labels based here, it’s the hub."
Can you tell us about your process for selecting tracks and creating your sets?
"I’m constantly searching for music both old and new. I search online and in record stores. Then for organisation I usually start by throwing new tracks into a folder, having a mix while dipping in and out of older folders. This gives me an idea of what tracks work together over the course of a full set, I find this important for the flow and vibe of the bigger picture. What might be an incredible track, just might not fit in the direction you’re aiming to go in this period, so I’ll remove those from the folder. Then I create folders for vibes or parts of a set e.g. intro, deep, switch up, end. And during a set, I always have histories and older folders accessible so that I can go in other directions and adapt."
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or releases that you’re excited about?
"I can’t say the specifics, there are a couple of full-eps in the pipeline which I’m really excited about. So it’s just a waiting game on pressing for those now. I’m working on some other bits too, hopefully my output should increase. I did a few single track VA releases around the lockdown period, while it was nice to connect with people, I only want to focus on releasing complete works now."
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring DJs and producers who are just starting out in the industry?
"Appreciate the journey, everyone is different so don’t compare yours to others and if you find yourself doing that just realise, you’re on your own path and that’s what makes you who you are both as a person and an artist. This goes hand in hand but try to go your own way (against the grain), it’s not easy and I’m still working on it myself, I want to keep pushing further in that direction. At the end of the day, there’s only one Jeff Mills, one Aphex Twin, one Blawan, and each of them have their own individual style, this is the reason you go to see them."