Russia is home to some great electronic dance music (EDM) with artists like Serj V, Hard Rock Sofa, and many more. Yaaman, a Ukrainian native, is one such talent acquiring some fame of his own. With tracks like “Slice a Cake” and “Pain and Love,” it’s no wonder this DJ/producer is on our radar. Yaaman gave us a chance to pick his brain with a little Q&A action.
Back in 2004 when I started to play in clubs, I was searching for a DJ name for myself. At that time, aside from Hip-Hop, I was listening to a lot of Dancehall and Reggae, and my wife told me, “I like how these Jamaican artists say YAAMAN! in their tracks all the time. I think it’s a great DJ name for you”.
So much great electronic music stems from outside of the United States. How do you feel being from Ukraine has influenced your style and music preference?
I don’t think that being Ukrainian directly influenced my music style, but it affected my musical outlook very deeply because I love Ukrainian traditional music culture and know a lot of folk songs. It’s unnecessary in electronic music but I think it makes you richer as a DJ and producer when you know your roots.
Speaking of influences, which artist(s) have you grown up listening to?
There was a lot of different music in my childhood, from soviet pop-music that my parents were listening to, to artists like KLF, Prodigy, Robert Miles, Michael Jackson and Nirvana to name a few. In the mid 90′s, Hip-Hop came into my life.
I’m saying it so dramatic because Hip-Hop was so revolutionary for my musical mind. A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Run-D.M.C. were my heroes when I was a teenager. Along with Hip-Hop, I started becoming interested in Funk, Disco and Soul because of their roots, and I always tried to dig deeper in the music.
There are some really fantastic DJ/producers putting out some great music right now, yourself included. Any current favorites you really enjoy? Have you had a chance to work with any?
I really like what’s happening in the dance music scene right now. So many different sounds and styles can grow, evolve and have their own audience without control of corporate machine. I’m very inspired by music and the careers of artists like Chromeo, Sam Sparro, Mayer Hawthorne, Aeroplane, Dam-Funk and many others. Didn’t have a chance to work with them yet but I’m sure it’s possible.
You’ve gained quite the reputation for your MixMagic Show DJ sets. How did you get your start as a DJ?
A whole club thing was normal for me since 16 when I was a b-boy and doing a lot of break-dance shows with my crew at different venues. I had also been making beats for rap-artists and practicing my scratch skills, but I was never interested in the club aspect of DJ-ing. One time, a friend who was a famous DJ in the city at that time came to me and said “Man, there will be a DJ mixing battle soon and I already registered you”. I was like, “Without my permission? But I can’t mix; all I can do is scratch”. The set I did for this battle was a crazy blend of all non-”dj-tools” vinyls I had, from Wu-Tang and George Clinton, to Kraftwerk and Paula Abdul. I think now it’s called “mash-up”. It was my first experience as a DJ in a club.
As a DJ, how do you feel it affects the music you put out there for the world to hear?
I have no musical education so I don’t have that perception of music which professional musicians do. I just hear if sounds match each other or not. As a DJ, you gotta make the tracks work together. I think of music the same way. Now I’ve learned some basics of musical harmony and stuff, but It’s dance music and you got to know how to make people dance.
As an electronic music enthusiast myself, I can’t help but notice your recent track “Play” seems to be gaining a good amount of attention. Do you feel like you make music more for personal satisfaction, or that of your audience?
I think any musician needs an audience, as well as personal satisfaction. Music is a thing to share. It’s like sex. It’s unnatural to do it alone and with no pleasure.
What can we expect from Yaaman in the near future? Do you have any current projects/tours in the works?
A lot of new tracks now in progress that I’m not rushing; must make everything sound great and complete. Also, we started to work on an EP with Argentinian producer Idiotronic. I like his creativity; check his collabo with Ben Mono, it’s really good. So we will try to blend my disco thing with his electronic sound. I’m also planning to work on remixes more, because it’s one of those gaps to fill for me.
We’d love to see you here in Miami. Any chance you might be making an appearance?
I think this will happen in the future, especially since the first step has already been taken – I’m on Miami radio!