Shortly after casting yet another transcendental sojourn, their Ours Is Yours EP for Benjamin Fröhlich and Tom Bioly’s Permanent Vacation label, Yør Kultura chats with Torture the Artist while locked out of their studio, waiting for a way in. As DJs, the Rotterdam trio has gained appraise for curating eloquent and meaningful sets, exuding charisma and vigor on dancefloors worldwide – from expansive venues such as Burning Man and Fusion to more intimate setups and underground clubs. On the complementary, Danny, Raymon and Kris are even more compelling in the studio, composing gripping and heavily-supported tracks on labels across sub-genres, from Correspondant to Laut & Luise, Multi Culti to Permanent Vacation. With gigs put on hold due to the looming pandemic, the collective of musical wanderers had plenty of quality time for introspection, moments of feeling “comfortingly displaced,” and in-depth bonding with music (and inextricably, each other), and when confronted with some pressing questions, had much they were eager to share,including a sneak peek into an experimental new project.
It’s a challenge when you’re three tall guys in a small studio.
Torture the Artist: Hi guys. How are you today?
Yør Kultura: Hi hi, well actually we’re sitting outside of our studio at this moment, as we’ve lost our studio entrance key. Raymon is now trying to get a spare key from our studio partner. In the meantime it’s the perfect chance to answer these questions. But first: thanks for having us.
Torture the Artist: Hoping you are aptly socially distance, exactly how far apart are you at the moment?
Yør Kultura: We try our best, but it’s a challenge when you’re three tall guys in a small studio. During the first few weeks of the quarantine, we spent some time away from the studio a bit, but these past couple of weeks, it’s full studio mode again. Luckily the rules here have loosened up a bit so it’s easier to work.
Torture the Artist: Which member of the trio did you last speak to? And what did you talk about?
Danny: I’m currently talking with Kris and discussing Spotify playlists – while I’m writing this interview. Check out our playlist on Spotify by the way – little plug. <smiles>
Torture the Artist: We see a lot of duos throughout the electronic music scene, but a trio is much more rare, as often three can be a crowd. How do you manage to make it work, and so well at that?
Yør Kultura: It’s indeed more common to have a duo act than a trio composition. All three of us are okay as solo artists, but as a trio it works ten times better. In producing we all have our specialties and expertise and we challenge each other and luckily all have a common preference of musical taste. To work on a music project with more than one person is definitely not a new thing. In band formations it’s normal to have a base of three people. And some bands have proven it can work out quite well with that synergy. Besides we’ve realized the journey to success is long and hard, so it’s better to have some company by your side.
Torture the Artist: How much time do you usually spend together? Are you always all present when working on new music or have somehow found ways to telecommute?
Yør Kultura: The plan is to have a few studio sessions per week, besides the bookings. At the moment, bookings are much less of course, with the exception of a live stream here and there. Besides that, we have a lot of contact online via Whatsapp or Slack for sharing ideas, concepts or music parts.
Torture the Artist: With DJ gigs almost at complete halt, are you taking some time off producing as well? Or have you finally found the time to work on ideas that always remained in the backburner?
Yør Kultura: This forced pause on gigs has definitely gotten our creativity flowing and us to think about our work methods, as well as our way of producing. It made us come up with a new concept that is in development at the moment. Hopefully it’s possible to tell a bit more about it soon, but not just yet.
Torture the Artist: The past few years have been very eventful for you three, on the DJing aspect. Can you share some of the most memorable moments you’ve spent trekking the globe? A particular favorite venue or gig?
Yør Kultura: Sunset or sunrise sets are always our favorites. Especially sunrises. It’s fantastic to have a sunrise together with your friends inside a forest and an intimate setting. Combine that with a fog machine, proper soundsystem and lovely people, and we are more than happy.
In this period we have created more storytelling and conceptual music.
Torture the Artist: Does DJing play a key role in your development as producers? Do your experiences out on the field inspire your creativity within the confines of the studio?
Yør Kultura: Yes, for sure. During the quarantine, we’ve noticed this change in our creative process more than ever. We don’t enjoy making club tracks in the studio as much as before. In this period we have created more storytelling and conceptual music. The inspirations can come from fellow artists, whose sets we try to visit in the clubs when we are not playing ourselves. But the best inspiration is generated when we look at other disciplines, for example, fashion, nature or conceptual art.
Torture the Artist: In the midst of isolation, is there a particular place on earth you would really want to be playing music right now?
Yør Kultura: Thinking back of our highlights I guess it would be the Monday morning of Bachstelzen at Fusion. That morning was pretty much perfect.
Torture the Artist: Let’s reminisce a bit. When and how did it all begin? How did you meet?
Yør Kultura: We know each other from raves and art projects in our hometown years ago. During that period all three of us were solo producers and were doing okay. We released some tracks, did some DJing here and there, plus organized events in and around Rotterdam. But honestly it was not really going anywhere. At some point we came up with the idea to make some music together, quite organically. Initially, the idea wasn’t to start a new project, but the aim was trying to make something different by fusing different styles and influences. Something that wasn’t really there yet, in our perspective. Somewhere at the border of comfortable and not comfortable – sort of feeling comfortingly displaced. After three records, we felt confident enough to send our music to other artists and come up with the name Yør Kultura.
Torture the Artist: Growing up, who were among your greatest musical influences? How much bearing does Yør Kultura, as listeners, have on Yør Kultura, as music makers?
Yør Kultura: Our influence comes from many artists from different genres and artforms. Sometimes we get influenced by fellow musicians in our ‘scene’ but we get the best inspiration when we look outside our scene.
Torture the Artist: Did you all always work in music? Not that you’ll ever need to resort to it, can you imagine ever doing something else?
Danny: I worked at a record label before, Kris has a degree at SAE and Raymon had his own mastering studio and did mastering for other electronic artists. So we all have our background in music. Actually this all changed a bit over the years as we felt this music project gave us everything we need from the music. This gave us the opportunity to search for something different on the side.
Torture the Artist: What’s the story and meaning behind your moniker?
Yør Kultura: The name should have something rather familiar but should also be strange and exciting. The meaning behind the name was based on the borderlessness of the musical landscape, where people can find and create their own culture of preference.
Torture the Artist: Which track of yours do you feel most connected to at the moment? Could be one of your upcoming, maybe?
Yør Kultura: Today is the track that sums up our sound perfectly so I would go with that one for now.
Torture the Artist: Your first EP was released at the end of 2016, Odyssey on Earthly Delights. How long did it take for you guys to complete this project? What inspired this vision?
Yør Kultura: These tracks were actually the first tracks we produced and were made before we even came up with a name Yør Kultura. It all happened in the studio trying to create something new that wasn’t there yet.
Your music should add something new to the musical landscape.
Torture the Artist: You’ve clearly evolved through the years, and your sound and style are consistently becoming more defined, standing out from the ordinary. What are some techniques or processes that you had to learn to get here? Any old habits you had to forgo along the way?
Yør Kultura: Thank you for the kind words on that. It’s been a process over the years where from time to time you go a level up. We always try to improve and still feel we can learn a lot. During our studio time we make a lot of concepts, but only release our best work. The most important rules are that your music should add something new to the musical landscape and your music should still sound timeless years after releasing it.
Torture the Artist: Was there a particular time/date when the direction you want to take became much more clear? Perhaps a turning point in your career?
Yør Kultura: I think after two years we really had the feeling we were on the right track and were able to define the sounds that we strive for.
Torture the Artist: We hear unique elements in your music, quite an expansive culling of diverse sounds. What musical device or equipment/s have you grown to appreciate over time?
Yør Kultura: The sampler in Ableton is something that has contributed a lot to our music, over the last years.
Torture the Artist: Can you tell us a bit about your studio set up?
Yør Kultura: During the start period of our project we had a lot of hardware gear, but for financial reasons we needed to set them free. For now it’s Ableton + Genelec speakers + everything from Fabfilter + Soundtoys + arturia + omnisphere. That sums it up, pretty much.
Torture the Artist: You released the Shimming/ Cosmic Tribal on Permanent Vacation last year, and Ours is Yours, just recently. How did your relationship with the Munich based label begin?
Yør Kultura: For a long time, we kept sending our music out but without any luck. It didn’t stop us and finally, at some point, Benji & Tom (Permanent Vacation) came back with the news they wanted to sign Shimming. Later on, they liked the track Cosmic Tribal and our EP was ready. The label is such a stable institute for the last decade so when the EP was signed we felt extremely lucky.
Torture the Artist: Your acclaimed release, Ours is Yours just came out, congratulations! When did the idea come about? How long did it take for you to complete the EP?
Yør Kultura: The first 80% of the EP was created in a few days. The last 20% took a long time. But I guess this is a normal process. What we like most about the EP is that each track could be a fit for a different artist or genre. That’s also something that’s typical for our sets, so it made perfect sense to do the same while producing. It’s a combination of tribal elements and hypnotic basslines, some say.
Torture the Artist: Assuming Ours is you. Who would you be referring to as Yours? Did you compose the EP, with a particular You in mind?
Yør Kultura: This can be basically anybody who enjoys the music, from all over the globe. Not a particular persona. It’s us sharing our music to you.
Torture the Artist: In creating these four tracks, is there something you learned about yourselves from the process?
Yør Kultura: During the process of making music, we make endless amounts of concepts & tracks. What we’ve learned is that it takes quite a sum to eventually come up with the right music to be released. It needs a lot of work, trying new things and having some patience.
We are creating a new musical journey, based on several substance driven experiences.
Torture the Artist: Though the world is currently paused on its tracks, expecting things to fall back in place in a couple months, more or less, what can we expect from Yør Kultura for the rest of the year?
Yør Kultura: The quarantine is giving us a lot of extra time to define our music taste, how we want to present our music as an artform and how we relate to that. At the moment we are creating a new musical journey, based on several substance driven experiences. The goal is to have it finished this year. To be continued for now, but would love to tell you more once it’s nearer to completion. For now, that’s all. Thanks for having us, it was a pleasure. We are huge fans of the platform, keep on going. And of course, thanks for the readers who have made it all the way to the bottom. Hopefully until somewhere on the dancefloor, soon! Greetings & peace.
Torture the Artist: Thanks guys, it was fun chatting with you. Keep safe! And hope to dance with you all in the near future.
Interview by Marie J. Floro