Yama is one the leading figures in the growing “Wave” scene. He was good enough to talk to us about his music and experiences as a label head, influencer, and member of this exciting community.
PW – Hello Yama, how are you?
I’m doing pretty well and taking advantage of this quarantine time to work on music.
PW – Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 23 and from Kentucky currently living in Seattle Washington and I run the label/event production crew Human Error//. Been producing for around 10 years now, lots of trial and error, but taking myself seriously as an artist more so the past year.
PW – Generally speaking, who are your main inspirations?
In terms of running HE// my two biggest inspirations are my friend Wes, who runs Recall Records/Nectar Collective, and the big don himself, Plastician. Wes is someone I met around 6 years ago on the internet and he was the first person to ever hit me up and say “Hey I really like the music you’re making”.
I ended up moving from Kentucky to Los Angeles to live with him and he helped me navigate the minefield that is being a growing artist. I deal a lot with very new or smaller artists and the direction he took with me is a model for how I take care of people I bring through HE//. Plastician really needs no explanation because he’s a man of action that’s for the culture and its people. I aspire to be like him one day.
Musically my biggest inspirations right now are gl00my, Vexxy, Jato, and Mystxrivl. I’m a very big fan of square waves lol.
PW – What themes are important to your work?
Currently, I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from cyberpunk media and trying to think “Is this something I could hear in a club in like 2099?” A lot of my earlier stuff was heavily influenced by my roots growing up around Memphis rap and metal.
PW – What’s the story behind the Human Error// Collective?
HE// was birthed because I saw so many artists that were incredibly talented being generally looked over. I wanted to provide a safe haven and a jumping-off point for these artists to grow. I still felt doing things virtually with the label wasn’t enough and I wanted to try and do my part for the scene in meatspace as well. So I packed everything I had into one suitcase and moved to Seattle with $200 to my name to start doing live events.
I was homeless all the way through our first show we hosted with Sweeep as the headliner and moving forward from that we had an incredible 2019 featuring artists like Brothel, Sorsari, and Boygold. It’s not necessarily easy to start doing events but if you surround yourself with a strong core team anything is possible. I owe a lot to my initial team of Mnemosyne, Stonemist, Bayk, and Sweeper for helping make this all a reality.
PW – What do you consider to be the principles behind it?
Number one is integrity. Running an honest ship is key to helping young artists grow into not only good musicians but good people as well. Our focus is shining a light upon overlooked talent and helping them grow into themselves.
PW – Which other artists are involved with it?
We accept submissions from all over via firstname.lastname@example.org and have featured assorted artists such as Ethcore, Lurk, Wishy Washy and more. However, we do have an official roster that comes through on compilations and shows: Stonemist, Mnemosyne, Sweeper, Bayk, Heirz, Buckets, Pacifix, Mirin Doja, Ghost Girl, Calicry, Ivoryghost, Issann, Echo Wolf, Casual Death and Tako Tomago.
PW – How did you all come together?
The internet is a beautiful place. Some of them I’ve known for quite some time but the majority I met through forums such as the Facebook group Wavecity or the Wavepool subreddit. Mnemosyne, Stonemist, Sweeper, Bayk, Echo Wolf, Ghost Girl, and Buckets make up my core local Seattle team.
It was a bit nerve-racking because it was my first time putting together a virtual show by myself without the visual wizardry of Ghost Girl or the studio help of our partners Boundless NW. Overall it was really fun though.
Being able to connect through the internet has been a godsend during this quarantine and experiencing a show, even virtual, was revitalizing. Tako’s album is an absolute masterpiece and I needed to share it in a more engaging way than just a Facebook post.
PW – Musical Twitch has been growing for some time, though obviously COVID-19 has increased its significance. Do you see it becoming an even more important part of independent music, even after the lockdown?
Ever since we started doing shows in Seattle we’ve always had people say things like “Man I wish I could go” or “One day I’ll come out to Seattle for a show” and doing these virtual events gives our global community a chance to experience these shows in a way.
I definitely believe this virtual space will continue to be an important tool for independent artists and collectives simply because of the ease of doing events and catering to a global audience. Thanks to Twitch we’ve seen some absolutely insane virtual lineups that would be nigh impossible to do IRL.
PW – What’s the general state of the wave scene?
Musically the state of the wave scene is thriving. We’re experiencing so many different styles of the sound and many artists are taking risks and experimenting, creating some truly interesting music. The sound is growing beyond our little internet bubble and with it comes growing pains so I’ve definitely noticed some division in the community about things like mainstream support and tags like ‘Hardwave’. But at the end of the day we all love wave and it’s all about the music.
PW – How do the scenes abroad compare to those in the US?
I can’t really speak too hard on other country’s scenes but I know here in the States besides us holding down the fort in the PNW we have people like Vibe Digital holding down the whole east coast, my homie w/out absolutely busting their ass in Chicago for the culture, LVCO and Hidden Auroras in LA, Harmony Haven in the South and so many more. We have a wide net in the US and before COVID we were starting to see more nights with wave music pop up.
PW – What was the “Wave dub war” and what was the motivation behind it?
I’m a big fan of grime and dubstep and around the start of the stay at home order I noticed both of those scenes were sending war dubs around and I was like “Fuck it, why not?” So I hopped on Twitter and just sent for some friends like Eone, Stonemist, and M!NGO.
From there it just snowballed into a massive community event with like 80+ war dubs being brought to my attention. I think everyone had a lot of fun and it helped bring some folks, myself included, out of a gloomy writer’s block.
PW – In this kind of industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
I’m honestly way better at giving the advice than following it myself. It’s really easy to slip into a negative mindset whether it’s through comparing yourself to others or feeling like you aren’t putting out enough. How I personally combat these feelings is by confiding in my friends and just stepping back and taking a break for a minute.
Overworking yourself never gets any sort of quality work done so just close Ableton and play video games for a day or two or something.
PW – What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
Like any artist I hope that my music achieves the quality I strive for as well as reaches more ears. I also hope that Human Error// can grow itself and help many young artists get a leg up. I hope that through whatever growth I go through that all my friends are right there with me.
PW – What big new releases and events does Human Error// have on the horizon?
In terms of releases, we have some big stuff coming from Time94, Deyeying, and Pacifix over the next month or so. And for events, I decided to put together a virtual fest for my birthday that’ll be streaming on our Twitch June 4th – 5th. We will be featuring a bunch of homies like Sorsari, Dyzphoria, and Yedgar headlining. Along with some really slept on artists like Tomkillsjerry and INFMS.
PW – Where can people find you and your work?