MIXED BY/ Yadava

Yadava is a Manchester-based producer and DJ known for his releases on local staple Ad Hoc Records and for his debut album, “It Rains Here”, that was released last year by London outfit Church. Catching our ears from day one, we’ve happily premiered a couple of his tunes in the past (and future) and now we’ve also invited the rising star to record a mix and answer some questions for us. We ask him about his influences, the city of Manchester, his album as well as his forthcoming EP, among other things. Find out more about Yadava and read the full interview while listening to this perfectly curated Monday morning soundtrack.

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Yadava mixed by
How would you characterize the sound of Yadava?

Hard question! Think I’m still figuring that out myself and I’d hope it would keep evolving as I develop anyway. A lot of the time it’s heavily influenced by what I’m currently listening to which can change pretty often. I guess jazz-influenced sounds are a common theme, whether it’s the samples I’m using or the sounds I’m creating myself. I like to incorporate percussive elements into the mix too, I’m always aiming to bring some richness to the rhythms. I think I also tend to gravitate towards slightly more laid-back sounds, even if I set out to up the tempo.

Your debut album on Church, “It Rains Here”, has been rinsed by us at BB HQ quite a bit since its release. Can you tell us a little about the background of the double LP? What were some of the inspirations behind it and is the name a tribute to your home base of Manchester?

Yeah the name is a reference to Manchester for sure, but it also has a double meaning. I wrote a lot of the LP whilst I was going through a bit of a difficult time so it’s a reflection of that too, even though that probably wasn’t a wholly conscious and explicit process. For me, there’s melancholy tones throughout but also some warm and soothing sounds in there. I can definitely recall the process of creating the music feeling like it was serving a therapeutic purpose, and when I listen back to it now it’s like a document of my emotions at that time packaged up for me to go back to and make sense of. I don’t think I’ve ever actually played the record out in a bar or club. At the same time, it’s cool that other people are going to engage with the music in a completely different way to how I do. In terms of the sound palette I was definitely inspired by the sounds of labels like 22a records and 2000 Black, as well as Manchester-based friends exploring similar musical territory like Contours.

Tell us about your forthcoming EP for Ad Hoc Records – any particular inspirations behind it?

Yeah the tracks on that EP are some of the first ones that I’d recorded and decided to send out to labels. I’d just picked up most of the gear I made the Church LP with so was getting my head round using the MPC and recording live bass/keys so it’s a bit fuzzy round the edges. But yeah it was just experimenting really with mixing live instrumentation and samples from records I was listening to a lot at the time, mainly bossa nova and some jazz-funk sounds. One track actually had a digital release last year but it’s going to be nice for that to be pressed up to vinyl with some other sounds I’d made at the same time!

How is the scene in Manchester right now? There certainly seems to be a sound that’s hot there right now with producers and DJs such as Contours, Cervo and the like championing it. Would you say Manchester is carving out a bit of a niche for itself?

I’ve been in Manchester for about 10 years now and what I’ve always noticed is the breadth of music coming from the city – I don’t think it would be fair to put Manchester in a particular box musically because there’s so much music to engage with, and too much to try and make reference to here. I think there’s a lot of really nice jazz and soul infused hip-hop coming from the city at the moment, obviously championed by artists like Children of Zeus who’ve had a big impact and been doing their thing for a while; as well as younger artists like KSR and Blind Mic. I think because there’s such an eclectic music scene in Manchester, that gets reflected in sounds that straddle lots of different styles. For example, the Kawuku sound project that Tom (Contours) and Chris (Cervo) worked on, or what Tom (Werkha) is doing at the moment, occupying that space in between more electronic sounds and live jazz.

We know Manchester is full of talent. Is there anybody there that’s currently flying under the radar that we need to check out? Any special shout outs?

Taurtollo who released a really nice EP on Ad Hoc records last year is someone to keep an eye on for sure. Also Garth BE, who’s probably not so under the radar but if you aren’t familiar with his stuff then I’d go check that… and keep an eye out for more sounds in the near future. There’s loads more, too much to list here but a good starting point would be to check out the archived shows from local DJs on NTS Manchester, Reform Radio, MCR live etc.

Can you talk a little about So Flute, the event series you help with? What’s your role? Tell us how it started, the ethos behind it and if you see it expanding into something else in the future?

I started So Flute with my pals Dan and Billy when we were still students over 6 years ago now. Our friends Luke and Tom came on board pretty early on too and we used to do monthly parties at the Roadhouse (RIP) before it closed down. Music-wise I think we were influenced a lot by DJs and parties we had been going to with an eclectic music policy like Mr Scruff’s Keep It Unreal nights and Hoya:Hoya. We also wanted to put on nights that felt like a house party, where there was a laid-back feel and more of a connection between the people in the crowd. I think over the years So Flute definitely developed in that way. You’d see the same people coming each month and it feels like there’s a strong core community of people who we’d consider part of the So Flute family. I think doing parties in that way also meant that although we were booking some bigger artists like Floating Points or Sadar Bahar we could also put on a residents party and the vibe would be the same. At the moment we’re still doing parties every few months in Manchester, as well as one off parties in other cities. There’s been talk of a label in the pipeline for ages given the amount of people we’re connected with that are making great music so watch this space on that one…

You’re clearly a big fan of jazz. Was it always that way? Could you give us some musical influences you listened to growing up and a few that are currently inspiring you?

My dad is a jazz musician so although I can’t say I was actively engaging with the music, I was definitely exposed to a lot of those sounds when I was younger. I remember borrowing some Joe Henderson and John Coltrane LPs to use for an art project in college. Being drawn to them visually I naturally ended up engaging with the music too; although I think I did some blasphemous damage to the sleeves in the process. I also used to listen to a lot of pretty questionable hip-hop in my teenage years but then became interested in the source material so that was another route into those sounds. At the moment I’m digesting a lot more ambient and DIY synth stuff which isn’t something I’ve dug very deep into before. There’s so much great music being reissued by labels like Music From Memory and We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want (great label name) so I’m really enjoying that right now. Also the constant stream of really great contemporary jazz stuff from labels like Gondwana, Brownswood and Black Focus. The Mansur Brown LP has been on heavy rotation.

What instruments do you play? How much do you tend to sample and how much do you usually play yourself? 

I wouldn’t claim to be technically proficient but I can fumble around a bit on bass, guitar and keys so I tend to incorporate live recordings into my music. Although saying that, the balance of samples and live recordings can really vary from track to track. So tracks like Rebecca’s Jam and Weightless off the Church LP are all live recordings I played, apart from the drum samples that were programmed with the MPC; but then “Hiromasa’s Interlude’ is pretty much all sample-based except some chords and percussion really low in the mix. If I can get the sound I want by recording something in then I’ll definitely go for that because you have so much more control in manipulating the sound, but I also really enjoy working with samples. I see sampling as just as valid a method of making music as creating original sounds, but I do think it’s important to try and make sure you’re adding something new if you’re using sampling as a creative process in which you’re taking some credit as the artist. Whether that’s pulling samples from a range of different sources, layering samples with your own sounds or whatever your approach might be. Otherwise from my perspective what are you adding to the source material?! There’s blurred lines I guess, but yeah in terms of my own process I’m happy moving up and down that scale of sampling vs. playing in live recordings.

Yadava mixed by interview
Are you an avid record collector? Do you remember the first record you bought? How about the last one?

I do tend to buy a lot of records, but I buy and play loads of digital stuff too. I definitely like having things in physical format and generally feel a stronger connection with the music if it’s something I can hold in my hand and engage with the artwork and inner notes etc. One of the first records I bought that I’d really wanted for a while was a copy of this amazing gospel record, Spirit of Love – The Power of Your Love. It’s been reissued now but at the time there was no other way for me to engage with the music other than listening to a pretty low-quality video on YouTube so it was really exciting to have a physical copy with all this extra information about the recording and artists.
I remember buying a CD single of Eddie Grant – Electric Avenue on a school trip when I was about 11 but I think the first record I bought was a copy of the Velvet Underground – Loaded in a tourist trap record shop in New York. The last one I bought was a reissue of the Mkwaju LP by Mkwaju Ensemble.

What are some of the must do’s/eats/sees in Manchester?

If you’re looking for dancing into the early hours then I’d be heading to venues like The White Hotel and Partisan where there’s some really interesting programming and nice crowds by virtue of being that little bit further out of the city centre. There’s plenty of wicked record shops to check out too; Piccadilly Records, Eastern Bloc, Vinyl Exchange and King Bee in Chorlton is definitely worth a dig. There’s a really good Ethiopian restaurant called Habesha, hidden above a takeaway in the Village just off Canal street. Also I could eat pizza all day every day so Rudy’s Pizza in Ancoats is another one of my favourite spots for food.

How much can you divulge about what’s coming up in Yadava’s near future, music-wise.

After the Ad Hoc release I’ve got another record coming out on a Swedish label and I’m also working on finishing another EP for a new Canadian label too. There’s a few more bits in the pipeline including some edits and a collaborative live project I recorded with another Manchester producer, but I’m having to focus my energy on other responsibilities for the next few months so I’m taking a bit of a break from any major new recording projects at the moment. There’s also the monthly ‘Expansions’ show I host with Contours on NTS Manchester where you might hear some forthcoming/unreleased sounds from ourselves and close pals!

Between running an event night, gigging, producing a whole bunch of music and trying to finish a PhD, how are you managing to balance your time?

This is something that has been really hard for me, it all kind of fell apart at one point and I had to take a bit of time out from everything last year. Trying to find a balance between so many different competing interests is really difficult and something I’m still working on. It’s even harder when there’s something you want to focus more of your energy on; for me that was music, but I had other responsibilities and so I’ve had to learn to put things on hold to make life manageable. Finding that right balance of things isn’t something I’ve been able to do on my own and I’ve really benefitted from the support of people around me, that’s probably been the most useful resource in terms of coping with things. By virtue of studying a psychology-based course I think I had access to people who were well placed to provide support as well as having some close friends who really helped me out in my hour of need! Also being self-aware and taking care of your basic needs you know, getting enough sleep, eating well, all those things contribute massively to your ability to manage pressure and they have to come first.

Interview by Igor