Techno Tuesday: Yotto talks his sonic evolution, playing Miami, and using his air miles
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Yotto hardly needs an introduction in today’s dance sphere. Having risen seemingly out of nowhere, the Finnish talent caught the attention of Anjunadeep early on in his career and subsequently climbed the house ranks for his lush, melodic take on the genre.
He became much more than simply a wunderkind for Anjuna, however, forever keeping his blinders on and making music that brought him the most profound fulfillment. As a result, his forward-thinking approach to musicmaking cemented his credibility, and made him a well-respected member of the dance underground. Yotto’s name began appearing on prolific bills across the globe, with an increasing demand for his driving, hypnotic aesthetic. In 2018 alone he’s been tapped for his debut Essential Mix, while also releasing on an EP Joris Voorn‘s Green imprint.
As he prepares for his Miami Music Week appearances — which include a booking alongside progressive greats at the Rapture festival (tickets here), a gig at Do Not Sit On The Furniture, and more — he graciously provided Dancing Astronaut with some insight on his artistic development, retaining balance among a chaotic tour schedule, and using his air miles for various things around the airport.
Tell us about your first Essential Mix – what was the story of your recruitment to make one, and how was the process for you of fashioning the mix?
Making an Essential Mix is one of those bucket list things that I’ve always wanted to do – BBC Radio 1 has been an invaluable supporter for my music so I think getting to do an Essential Mix came very naturally. For the mix I wanted to include a combination of stuff that I play right now and a lot of music that forms my musical DNA some in form of edits that I made just for the mix. In the end I just recorded the mix and added some intro and outro bits later.
What sorts of sounds, artists, and other factors have inspired your sonic evolution over the years?
Ahh many things! Most of my musical inspirations come from old, non-dancefloor electronic music like Boards Of Canada and Ulrich Schnauss. Listening to new, upcoming producers is also great for inspiration as they might have a less jaded view on producing and bring new, fresh ideas to the table. Dj-wise I was always a big fan of Sasha & Digweed, Desyn Masiello and Deep Dish.
It seems progressive has played a major role in your upbringing – from your days of influence from Sasha & Digweed, to falling in love with the classic progressive house sound, to now, where a lot of your music can be defined under the sub-genre. What is it about progressive that strikes a chord so deeply with you? Do you feel it’s having a moment again in the current dance sphere thanks to acts yourself (among many others) are helping to return its credibility to the mainstream?
I have never been a big fan of genres to start with, I’ve just always had a very passionate relationship with emotional, musically rich dance music. It can be disco, classic deep house, just a fat techy drum loop or the turn-of-the-century prog sound. I honestly don’t think that the more progressive sound ever went away. People just keep rebranding it – a lot of today’s “melodic techno” is 100% progressive house to me but sometimes people need to come up with new labels to form a new perspective on a sound. I think generally it’s a sound where people can find more to remember in a song, when the musical content is rich.
When did you realize the “music bug” had entirely bit you and that you needed to do music full time? Or did you fall into it unexpectedly? Tell us the story!
I did work for ages before actually giving in and working on music full time. It was always more or less a daydream but all good things have a way of coming if you work for it. It all happened quite organically after a few successful releases with Anjunadeep I was able to start touring and at that point there’s really no way to have a day job when you arrive home late every Monday and have to leave on the road again on Thursday.
Given your climb up the success ladder as of late, you must be finding yourself quite busy. How do you maintain balance and clarity among a chaotic work schedule? What is your self-care routine?
Good thing about being busy with music is having this hard-wired need to make music and listen to it all day long, so it does not feel like a burden. Chaos can be controlled, haha. Touring is tiring and sometimes very heavy, but it’s a small price to pay for being able to do it. Taking care of your health and family is essential. I try to do sports basically every day I’m not on the road, have recently been getting back into the swimming pool too so that should keep me going. Taking the dog out into the woods is also a perfect form of therapy. In all fairness I enjoy making music for a living so much that I think I’m cheating in life and should be taken in for questioning.
On that note, where do you see yourself taking your career in the future? Have you given any thoughts to running your own label? Are you planning a party series like Guy Gerber’s Rumors?
For sure, there’s no masterplan for it just yet but will definitely look into having my own label at some point. I get sent a lot of amazing music and would love to get that out there on my own too.
What is your philosophy toward making, and performing music?
I make and play music that I like, very simple. I believe that whatever music you make and play it should come organically and from a real place, otherwise there’s no point if you can’t enjoy it in a very honest way.
Where are your favorite places to play in the world, and why?
Everywhere! I must say I love South American crowds a lot, they have a great culture for dance music. Each city and every club has their own charm, so it’s hard to pick just a couple. Sometimes a festival stage feels amazing, sometimes a tiny basement in a small European town is exactly what gets you going.
Let’s switch gears to Rapture festival. It must have been an honor to be booked on the Soundgarden stage! How is it working with Nick Warren, and to know you were chosen to play alongside such heavyweights in your arena?
Nick is a legend, and the whole festival has a really good lineup from Luciano and Guy Gerber to a great combination of classic and modern progressive artists on the Soundgarden stage. I think that’s a great representation of where the sound is now and where it’s going in the future.
What excites you most about playing Rapture?
The lineup and the location, I’ve heard that it’s a beautiful part of Miami and feels great to jump out of the madness of South Beach and Wynwood for a bit during the Miami Music Week. Also a cold beer or two, hopefully a hot dog and maybe pancakes if they have any.
Now for your favorite question: what’s coming up for Yotto throughout the rest of the year?
More music! I’m excited about all the new music that I have ready to go. Will be going around all continents again over the rest of the year so I’m also looking forward to missing airplane meals and trying to figure out if I can buy candy with air miles.