You might’ve heard of YZNO earlier on this through his beat anthem aptly entitled “Brooklyn”. It did quite a bit of damage in the blogosphere, and ricocheted through soundcloud like a stray. Or maybe you caught him under the Jazzo moniker, churning out heat alongside a man called Melodiesinfonie.
YZNO comes from a Zurich based Jazz collective called Gamut and when not slicing up beats, he’s throwing down guitar licks and composing with his cohorts from the District Five Quartet. We caught up with the man to speak about the art of remixing, in light of this gem he crafted for the elusive FUTUR-ARRRT-POP collective JPTR.
BR: Who’s idea was it to have you do a remix of Masterbabe?
YZNO: It was my idea, I suggested it.
BR: What did you think of it when you first heard the original? Did you have an idea for the remix in mind right away?
YZNO: I actually thought that there might be something missing. Which is also kind of the point with their music.
BR: How do you approach remixes in general? How do you start? How do you figure out what to keep from the original, or how much of it to keep or to drop?
YZNO: I often produce songs for other bands. I start with simply listening to the song and then hearing in my mind what kind of sound would be cool. It’s something you learn from playing in a lot in bands. When you play together you learn to really listen to each other and you always try to make the music sound better. And it’s almost always possible. So this is my approach. Then there’s a lot of editing and technical work, in this stage it’s important to keep the song as a whole in mind, the sound, the mood it creates, or you want to create.
BR: Does it matter what a song is about when you take on a remix, or is it all just about the music? And in this case?
YZNO: It’s really all about the music. I realized that especially with this song. Because I really never listened to what she was singing about. So I kind of had an aha moment when I was mixing the vocals. It’s actually pretty sexual – so that was fun.
BR: I noticed that this remix is more Electronica sounding than a lot of your original output, why this shift? Why now?
YZNO: I’m releasing a full length LP on boyoom connective this year called Tonjen One. It’s a collaboration with the talented designer Isabel Seiffert, who made the cover design and was involved in the creation of the album. When she didn’t like something, we kicked it out or if she didn’t like a sound, I would change it. It was very inspiring to work with a non–musician and to hear with ears of someone who’s not a professionally trained musician. They really do hear differently – they focus more on moods and sounds, which I find interesting. So you could say she helped shaping my new work.
BR: Do you think that you’ll continue producing this type of sound?
YZNO: I’m planning to go more in this direction, because I listen a lot to this kind of music. And I also think it’s natural to work with the sound of our time. I’m always trying to do new things and hear and think outside of the box. I believe that the more you learn to listen, really listen, while making music, everything will start to sound more urgent and clear and at the same time more distinctive. It’s all about finding the right solution to any given situation. The spectrum will open up and nobody will care about genre.
BR: How would you describe JPTR and the type of music they make to someone that’s never heard of them before?
YZNO: A fragile but incredibly energetic vocalist and a brainy, european jazz drummer, playing weird music and doing crazy visual stuff – it’s awesome. They really have a vision, that’s inspiring.
BR: You’re from Switzerland right?
YZNO: Yes, I live in Zurich. I’m half swiss, half Slovenian, a son of two musicians.
BR: From the outside it looks like there’s something special happening musically, out there – is there a new scene on the rise? And if so, who are the key players? And what is driving this new surge of music?
YZNO: There’s always something new happening. The cool thing right now is, that people are starting to become more open minded. More people listen to music that is different and more raw–sounding. With our jazz collective Gamut we just organized a festival which was crammed. People had to go out to get fresh air, because it got so extremely hot in there. And keep in mind, it was a festival with only improvised music, sometimes entirely free. Zürich is certainly still not like London, but we’re getting there.
BR: What’s on the horizon for you personally? Any new releases we should look out for?
YZNO: Yes, the new Yzno album Tonjen One, that I mentioned before. This album took me about two years of work, so it’s worth to take a listen. It’s an album you can hear more than once, maybe also because of the fact I had to listen to this material for two years. I still listen to it, I actually think the more I listen to it, the more I like it. My jazz band District Five Quartet is going on tour next year with lots of my compositions and some new material. Thank you for having me and sharing my thoughts.