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Interview – Yama [Producer]

Wave producer Yama is not only one of the genre’s finest creators, he’s also one of its pillars. A passionate man who brings people together. One who supports others, helps them unlock their creativity and encourages them to do so in kind.

We spoke to Yama last year. We thought it would be good to catch up with him…

PW – Hey how are you? 
I’m doing well.

Entering year 2 of this COVID mess with optimism that our world will be on track to normality again at some point this year. I’ve been keeping myself occupied by learning graphic design and just grinding at my day job.

PW – Some will remember you from our last conversation. But do you wanna re-introduce yourself?

My name is Yama and I’m the head of the international collective/label Human Error//. 
I’m also a part of the environmentally-conscious music collective “FOREST BOIS” led by the legend TW1GZ. In the past year, I’ve joined the team over at Ninth Gate, a blog focused entirely on wave music, as their North American liaison. I do a lot lmao.

PW – There’s been a lot of exciting developments in the Wave scene since we spoke last year. What’s your view on how things have progressed and the current state of it?

The wave scene has exploded over the past year, in no small part due to the abundance of multi-genre virtual fests, with many artists finding support from the likes of artists like Hex Cougar or labels such as Electric Hawk. It’s very exciting to see more people slowly discover this community that’s been built over the past few years but it’s not without your average growing pains.

There definitely is some stronger divide in the scene now between artists that either feel like the culture is being commodified by EDM normies/they aren’t getting enough credit or anything and artists that are excited at the prospect of being able to be taken more seriously and stand alongside other more established genres and producers.

I personally understand both sides but at the end of the day our community is still very close and a win for one is a win for all. We all would like to play bigger events or have more people listen to our music so I think it’s important that we extend that warm welcoming vibe the wave scene was known for in the beginning to all the new people finding it.

PW – How have things changed for you personally since we last spoke?

Over the past year, I dealt with some pretty heavy financial blows due to COVID but I managed to overcome that and get up out of my shitty apartment into a house. I’ve been grinding at my day job to build up a brand-new studio space and the plan is to start setting up the foundation for when HE// events return in Seattle.

Artistically I’ve been spending more time developing new skills than I have finishing songs. I find myself thinking more about the sort of imagery or emotion I want to invoke with my art than whether or not a song slaps. I don’t if it’s the result of being a bit jaded but I do find myself more artistically introspective than I was last year.

PW – Would you like to tell us about some of your upcoming projects?

I kinda did a soft reboot of the EP I was working on and it’s conceptually turned into an album. I’ve been taking it kinda slow with production so far this year because I really want everything incorporated in this project to be done with meaning. Besides working on this I’ve made a point to be a more social producer this year and collab more. I currently have collabs in the works with Jato, Yedgar, WRCKTNGL, Tigereyes, and Vexxy. I’ve also started producing for the Canadian R&B vocalist Gen, FKA Hoodie.

PW – Can you tell us about Wardubs? Particularly the inspiration behind it and why you think it’s so valuable.

I’m really into the dubstep and grime communities and around the start of quarantine last year I noticed both communities were at war on SoundCloud. I let it stew for a few days as I gauged where all my peers were at creatively and it hurt to see most of them were in a hole and uninspired. In such a short amount of time, we went from making music to play live or in a venue to just making music for ourselves. A lot of people felt lost.

Now war dubs have a history right, they’re grandiose, braggadocious spats between MCs basically like “Everything you do I already done better” etc. In the dubstep community, there were producers sending after each other with weighty tectonic dubs that consistently out-stank the other. I thought to myself “How would wave producers respond to this?” Our community isn’t too aggressive really, we all make sad/pretty music and are all pretty much homies so how do I get them to go to war? And so, the 24-hour call and response with playful banter started.

I sent for the first few knowing they would respond and from that first send, it spread like wildfire. First time around there were a few people that didn’t get it and they made some very chill pretty stuff but this most recent go everyone went for the fuckin’ neck. I heard absolutely evil shit from people that normally make shit that would be at home in a Ghibli movie. I think even though it’s a playful conflict it really brings the community together. Everyone’s engaging with each other and comparing favorites and whatnot. It’s become a very social event.

PW – It’s actually mind-blowing to me that so many artists can turn out such quality music in so short a time. What are your thoughts on this?

I think people just thrive under pressure. With the time limit, there’s not really enough time for people to nitpick and be like “Oh this snares shit, lemme adjust it for fuckin hours” instead people are just filled with creative adrenaline where they just let the DAW take control. With the war dub, you just dump all inhibitors and go into a sort of primal state of sound.

PW – What do you think are the best (or most promising) platforms for producers to host their music on? I know Audius comes up a lot.

I’m coming right out the gate with a hot take: Audius is smoke and mirrors. They preyed specifically on upcoming artists by dangling their own crypto as a promise that they would make money on their platform. Several artists and collectives who were in on dev of the site cashed in farming that crypto whose value was based on the influx of people influenced to move to the platform by money.

Besides that, their site to this day is half-baked and uploads only sometimes work. The site lacks basic features such as messaging and their Discord and Twitter mentions are filled with people begging for fixes and features all while their social media team just posts shit like “Skrillex is now on Audius!”
Audius itself is 99% producers and there’s no incentive for listeners to use it. I think they have a way to go before they become the “SoundCloud Killer” they were made out to be.

Honestly, the best platform for any artist to push right now is Bandcamp. You can build up your profile on BC with all your releases/merch/sample packs/whatever and your fans can directly support you with purchases that aren’t as detrimentally hit by site shares as on other platforms. I myself need to dig up my ancient Bandcamp and fix it up.

PW – Where do you see the scene going from here?

The scene is only going onward and upward. Every day another prominent figure discovers and hypes the sound, most recently YourEDM. They spotlighted a lot of the more crossover vibed acts but like I previously said: if one of us wins that’s a win for us all.

Let’s say there’s 1000 new Skeler or Deadcrow fans and they get curious to see what those artists like so they dig through their SoundCloud and find let’s say iSorin and from there Sudoverse and then Murkish and then to Kaleidokitty for example. That is a chain that spreads evenly to the roots of the scene every single time a new fan gets curious. I’m excited for the future and what opportunities it’ll hold for us all.

PW – Are there any artists you recommend that people check out? Especially newcomers to the scene.

With this question you really want me to turn this interview into a two-page affair lol.
 Absolute top recommendations right now are Remnant.EXE and w/out.
I know that’s biased as hell because they’re collective mates of mine but w/out is consistently wowing me and tugging at my emotions with each and every release. Their new EP, The Infinite Room, is a fucking masterpiece.

As for Remnant, yeesh, that man is a god. Everything about his music is a force of nature bent to his whim, like lightning in a bottle. He’s absolutely insane. 
I’d be remiss not to mention Catslash, Calicry, Tako Tomago, Ivoryghost, and Tigereyes. They’re all really good friends of mine that work incredibly hard and put out consistent quality work.

 As for some newcomers I’m really proud of I’d have to say the likes of Yvvrn, Sacre, Static Angel, and Duckem have been killing it.

PW – Where can people find you and your work?

You can find me on Soundcloud. And all my primary socials are in my bio. I’m @yamadubs on most everything <3

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