Yak of All Trades
“…I’m sat on about 50 finished but unreleased tunes at the moment…”
It’s been some year for Sheffield-based DJ and producer Yak. His debut EP Mido became something of a seminal release on the tribal techno scene with his Mido EP on Version reaching the top five of Phonica’s illustrious Singles of the Year list, coming in above the likes of Bicep and FourTet. We caught up with the Pretty Pretty Good resident to see how the city has influenced his music production and what the future might hold.
It’s been your biggest year so far, with your breakout Mido EP reaching far and wide into the bags of global superstars like Ben UFO, Peggy Gou and Joy Orbison. How does it feel for the hard work to have paid off?
It feels incredible! When I first started producing, my long-term goal was to get a play on Rinse FM, so for my music to be played by so many people I look up to has been amazing and still feels very surreal. I’ve been sent loads of videos and messages from people telling me they’ve heard someone play it at festivals and clubs all over the world – I still don’t know if it’s sunk in yet.
Have you found that being involved in Pretty Pretty Good, one of Sheffield’s biggest club nights, has sparked your desire to delve into the world of DJing and underground dance music? Has it put you into contact with any artists or labels which have particularly aided your productions?
Definitely! The experience of being part of creating these events and seeing everyone have a good time really inspired me to pursue DJing and production further than previously. Getting to see and play alongside so many amazing DJs has helped my mixing and understanding of how to build sets, plus I’ve been really lucky to be able to pick up tips from a lot of producers I look up to. I’ve got so many great memories from PPG events and I’m really excited for the next one I’ll be playing at, alongside three of my absolute favourites [Roman Flugel, Pangaea and Or:la] at Hope Works this month!
It’s great that you were able to deliver an EP for the city’s Black Beacon Sound imprint – on a seven-inch record, too! How has being involved in the Sheffield scene impacted you musically?
Before I came to Sheffield for uni I was listening exclusively to prog metal and really poor EDM. I’ve gained the majority of my musical education from going to parties in Sheffield over the past few years and it’s such a great community to be part of. Being a resident DJ for Pretty Pretty Good has been invaluable in improving my sets and ability to read a room, but most importantly, it’s also allowed me to play the music I like with no restriction. Being able to playing absolutely anything I want, then sit back with a pint and watch some of my favourite DJs up close at PPG events has been a real education and such a good experience. I find I often write my best tracks the day after a good party, when I’m still feeling the energy and vibes.
Pretty Pretty Good expanded significantly in 2017, which has seen you play debut gigs in Bristol, Leeds and London. As well as this, Version brought you over to OHM for your Berlin debut! Do you as confident when playing outside of Sheffield?
Yeah, it’s been really cool to play in other cities recently and it’s not something I’ve taken for granted. Berlin was especially cool! I think I definitely feel more confident playing in Sheffield just because I know what kind of stuff will go down well having played here so often. I think I prefer the experience of playing in another city for the first time, though, because while it’s a bit more of a challenge to lock into the vibe, once you do it feels even more rewarding. Berlin was a really good example of this; I started off with some percussive carnival-style drum tracks, which usually go off really well in the UK, but the crowd weren’t feeling it so I ended up going a lot deeper instead and played a lot of tracks that I wouldn’t normally play over here.
What does the future have in store for Yak?
I’ve got a couple of single tracks coming out on vinyl compilation EPs at the start of the year, and I’m currently in talks about a couple of other EPs that I’m really excited about, but I can’t say much more than that right now – sorry! There’s definitely a lot more music to come; I’m sat on about 50 finished but unreleased tunes at the moment.
Finally, did you know Yaks live at one of the highest altitudes of any domesticated animal in the world?
I didn’t! I don’t actually know very much about the Yak at all. I’ll definitely put some time aside to brush upon my Yak trivia.
Yak hits Hope Works on Saturday February 24th alongside Roman Flügel, Pangaea, Or:la. Tickets are sold out but may come available through Resident Advisor’s resale system.