Hello YokoO and Atish, great to have you both with us today ahead of your forthcoming EP on Satya! First off, how are you both doing and where abouts are you based right now?
YokoO: Wonderful here, thanks very much. Currently based out of Lisbon, but touring the American continent for the two months to come.
Atish: I’m doing great here at home in NYC. I just had a big weekend of killer gigs over Halloween and nothing scheduled for the next few weeks, so I’m enjoying both family and studio time at home.
We’re very pleased to be chatting with you both ahead of the release of the Atman EP, Satya’s third release and a debut collaboration from yourselves. Before we get into the EP itself, can you tell us the story behind how you guys know each other in the first place?
YokoO: Atish and I actually met behind the decks in 2015. Behrouz booked us to play back to back at Do Not Sit On The Furniture WMC that year. If my memory serves me right, our formal introduction to one another happened over the phone a few days before the show. We briefly got acquainted and discussed the music we would play. Our very first set was killer, so we decided to do it again. The rest is now history!
Atish: I had been following Yokoo’s productions for a long time. Actually, I just checked my Beatport receipt history: I purchased Over Night, Secret Holidays (YokoO’s Off The Map Dub), and Trouble Me (YokoO Remix) on March 29, 2013! I was already a fan of his work, and then we found ourselves in a B2B gig for a Do Not Sit Party in Miami in 2015. We got along and our set went well, so I booked YokoO to do an all night B2B with me in San Francisco, and we’ve continued to be friends ever since.
You both share a humbleness and degree of spirituality in your music, and although your individual sounds differ to some extent, they come together seamlessly on this EP. What first inspired you to collaborate together and can you talk us through what it was like working together?
YokoO: We shared the decks and the stage a few times over the last six years but never had discussed the possibility of collaborating on production work until Atish reached out to me in mid-2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, with a suggestion and some interesting musical ideas. Living in different countries, working remotely was our best bet to get anything done. The reality is that I felt overly inspired by what Atish shared with me. In a few days, I basically had nailed down the skeletons of a few tracks. We discussed finer details together over a couple of back and forth emails and agreed to release this three track package on SATYA once finalised.
Atish: Per my answer above, I had been following YokoO’s music closely for many years, enjoying the various stylistic shifts he’s taken. Many people have come to know me primarily as a deep/melodic house DJ (understandably so), but I do enjoy playing minimal and groove-based music within my sets when I can – which I think is more closely aligned with what I’ve heard from YokoO as of late. I had worked on some tunes over the pandemic that I thought could be pushed to the next level with another set of ears, so I sent a big package of tunes over to Julien. His first Satya release and recent works were all smashes, so it was a no-brainer to reach out to him. He chose a few of them, and turned around some modified ideas incredibly quickly. There wasn’t much creative disagreement over the versions he sent, which I think is a testament to our overlap in taste. In short, it was one of the most enjoyable and efficient collaborations I’ve had!
Having not released together before, did you have a certain sound you wanted to pursue together or did the results come more as a product of the process?
YokoO: The last few years have seen me drawn to faster groove based minimal house music again. I seem to be going full circle back to my roots, even exploring heavier techno influenced alley ways at times. That being said, the ethereal aspect of what I had been known for since breaking through as an artist is somewhat staying with me. I am not particularly interested in making music that does not carry (melancholic) emotions. I love pads, subtle melodies and atmospheric textures.
Atish’s project ideas were nothing short of melodic. I picked and chose the elements which I felt were the most striking, stripped things back, and focused on creating drum and bass grooves around them, using many of the existing elements. There was not much thinking going into the process. I usually let it all flow and follow the vibrations my heart resonates with at a given moment.
Atish: I had YokoO in mind as a collaboration partner because he really walks the line well between groove sophistication and sensitivity, a zone I very much appreciate. I was hoping he would take my ideas in that direction, and lucky for me, he did!
If you both had to pick a favourite from the EP, which would you choose and why?
YokoO: I have a tight bond with every track on the EP and find it hard to pick a favorite. I would lean towards Atman as it is the most balanced one. It flows and the mix is sharp; every element breathes and shines in it. The unpredictability of the melodic chord stabs combined with the warm moving pads, and spacey lazer sounds all really hit the spot for me.
Atish: Atman is my favorite. It simply evokes the strongest feeling from me.
Moving on to the label itself, YokoO, during last year you underwent the exciting milestone of launching your own label, Satya Recs. The quality through the label’s first two releases has been outstanding. Can you tell us a little bit about the label itself and what inspired its launch?
Glad you feel so as well, it is encouraging. In yoga, SATYA is one of five yamas (the virtuous restraint from falsehood and distortion of reality in one’s expressions and actions), and a concept that has influenced me for as long as I can remember. It means „A commitment to Truth“, and I hope it will inspire artists who align with that ethos.
The label is about authenticity. Vibrations beyond the musical realm that emanate from such a place have a far broader and impactful reach. From this core belief, we move through the world and penetrate a music scene that has more often than not lost its way.
Following an ever growing desire to build a platform promoting music that resonates with my heart, I finally took the leap and gave birth to SATYA.
The music I created over the years led me to being associated with labels that only partially reflected my tastes as a DJ. I ended up being pigeon holed. Even though people’s expectations should not have affected me, I could not ignore them.
I now own a platform where I can release the kind of music that defines me as an artist, all the while promoting and helping other artists be recognised on a worldwide scale.
What has the process of launching and running Satya been like for you personally so far YokoO?
It is a project that has come with its challenges for sure. My small team gives me outstanding support though. Since it is my first experience in running a record label and the team comes from a club and live music background, we are learning by doing. A strong intention sits at the core though, therefore I have faith all will work out the way it is supposed to. Launching Satya has helped strengthen my connections with artist friends as well as my parents who all have been participating in its creation and development. It is a family affair.
Thank goodness I finally pulled my fingers and initiated the process; I am ecstatic about what is to come.
Also a label head, Atish, your imprint Manjumasi co run alongside Mark Slee is currently in its fifth year and has so far welcomed the likes of Rodriguez Jr., Tim Engelhardt and more.
What has been the most enjoyable part of the process for you and what can we expect next from the label in the near future?
My favorite part of the process is building new relationships and friendships with artists that might not have developed otherwise. That’s one of the nice things about running a smaller boutique label, it forces us label managers to keep a close relationship with the artist and keep everything human.
I’m currently working on my next collaboration EP with a great producer from India, Vridian. We plan to press that one to vinyl, hopefully by early 2022.
A pleasure to speak with you both today and congrats on a brilliant EP. you for your time and wishing you all the best with the future of Satya. To finish off, is there anything else upcoming from yourselves or Satya that you would like to share with us?
YokoO: A pleasure connecting here! We are hoping to get some label showcases off the ground as the world opens up again. 2022 should be a stellar year for the label. Keep an eye out as the story unfolds!
Atish: After the Satya release, things will be peacefully quiet for a couple months. That being said, I run a monthly Discord Demo Day livestream where any producers from around the world can submit their music for a guest and me to review and critique in real-time. It’s been a really fun and rewarding project. You can check my Instagram for when the next one goes live.