With US superstar rapper Pusha T onboard, London Trap/Hip Hop DJ/producer trio YOGI are all set to release their latest single Burial via Skrillex‘s very own OWSLA record label in early May. Speaking from Miami Music Week, the group’s namesake – Yogi himself – spoke to SB.TV about his beatmaker broskis Blake and I/O and what we can expect from the forthcoming YOGI EP…
Talk to us about us about the track Burial and how US rapper Pusha T came into the mix…
I made the beat called Burial about two years ago, and then I did this deal with OWSLA and they were like, ‘yeah, let’s get Pusha on it’ and I was like, ‘cool.’ They sent the track off to Push and he was down, he did two mixes and sent it back to me. Then I took his vocals, remade the track and reworked it.
After years working as an intern and then with other acts like Professor Green, Lethal Bizzle and Plan B did you ever think that your production work on Wretch 32’s Traktor would be what took you to another level of recognition?
No, I didn’t to be honest with you. I just thought it was gonna be a track that was gonna be out but I didn’t think that it would crossover or it would be in the mainstream or anything like that. At the time Wretch was new as well, we were just starting out and so I didn’t actually have any expectations for it.
Diplo and Major Lazer were just poppin’ off and so it was really early on this scene. That inspired me and I wanted to make that, but Hip Hop. I was always trying to fuse the different genres, put them together but make it Rap and Hip Hop at the same time.
Just to clarify – and so my head hurts less – YOGI is now comprised of three producers; Blake, I/O and yourself, but circa Traktor you were working under the YOGI banner alone?
Yeah, that’s right. Well, I was working with I/O and Blake – as they are called now – at the time, but Traktor was a beat that I made on my own. Blake was in fact in the studio and he is the guy on the intro of the song. They’ve been around, it’s just now things are happening it makes sense that we all team up as a force, and make music together. We’ve been doing that anyway, they’ve been on a lot of productions that I’ve been [working on] and so it just makes sense that they are fully in the group and that people are aware of that as well.
So you never really were working solo, they were always around on some level…
They were always around, they’re like my boys. It was just very natural, they make beats, I make beats and we always had that community of beatmakers as well.
Bringing two talented people to work under your name…is that so they don’t forget who’s B.O.S.S?
Na na, not at all. You know what? We’re only doing it under the YOGI name because there’s already some heat behind it. So they were cool with it, if they had an issue with it we would have changed it. There is a goal and we all share that, it’s nothing like ‘who’s the boss’ or anything like that. They’re very supportive and I thank them and respect them for that.
For the last four or five years thats how it’s always been. When we’re in the mix process I/O might come on and add something to [a track] and it’s the same with Blake. To be honest, a lot of the big guys like Dr. Dre and Timbaland are ten man deep cliques.
Plus you can’t take over the world as just one man, you’ve gotta have your team and your team have to all be on the same page and have the same goal – regardless of the name, that’s not the important part.
If people want to know who’s involved [within the group] they can find out, and that’s something that will come through as we grow as producers, beatmakers and artists – as we keep pushing the YOGI name through. I/O and Blake will have their time in the light in the future, it’s not like it’s my name or anything like that. The guys are very much infused with the whole thing…since the beginning.
What are the chances of a fourth producer joining the line-up somewhere down the line?
Erm. I think at the moment we are content with three. You never know, you never know what’s going to happen – I can’t say.
YOGI has an EP dropping sometime this year, what can expect from it? Will it be more of what we’ve heard or can we expect something else?
We’ve got something else on the EP that I don’t want to mention because it’s all in the process [of coming together]. The style is like mixing a little bit of EDM and Trap and making it Hip Hop. We’re treading that line, that’s our zone and what we’re trying to focus on.
At the moment we’re looking at a release in late May, we have a working title but I don’t want to say it because it could change. Obviously Pusha is on the EP, I’ve got Sway on it, Casey Veggie and Knytro will be on it as well.
There is repeated spiritual symbolism and references within the YOGI artwork, most notably the branded Y Skull as well as the name of the group itself. What role does spirituality play within the creativity of the group? Does it play a role?
I can only speak for myself, I can’t really speak for Blake and I/O but I know Blake comes from a church background and so I’m sure it does with him.
For me it definitely does, because for me it puts your mind in focus and keeps you in that meditative state – so I feel like it’s important. I’m trying to keep myself good and in a positive state.
As the head of your record label, does Skrillex give any advice, any direction?
He’s cool man, he’s very supportive. I spoke to him yesterday and he believes in what I’m doing, he doesn’t come and tell me what to do, it’s nothing like that it’s more like, ‘yo, I think you’re dope, keep doing what you’re doing ‘cause I love it.’
When Christian Bale exploded, I noticed more than once you were referred to as this mysterious producer, because by today’s standards there’s little to no information readily available about you online – even now this is the case. Is keeping the details about the larger aspects of your life to your chest intentional?
I just wanna keep the focus on the music, I’ve got a long way to go and it just doesn’t make sense. Right now I’ve got something to prove to the scene, I’ve got something to prove to myself and it’s the same with I/O and Blake.
We look at people like Dre, people with real real legacies and it’s like ‘who are we?’ – we’re just getting started. It’s not like we’re trying to keep out of the spotlight, we’ve got a job to do for ourselves and we’re trying to keep the focus on the music and respect that process as well.
You produce Trap music, you travel the world, you remix Drake tracks and you’re signed to Skillex’s record label – why was I so surprised to find out you’re married?
I don’t know, maybe because of the stereotype of DJ’s.
My wife and me have been together for seven years, and we met at University. You’ve gotta have that other thing to keep you driven, otherwise you’re kinda going nowhere and there’s a lot of temptation – but that’s not why you’re here.
You’ve just got to keep your eyes on the ball and realise that if you look at the people with real legacies they’re not f**king around – look at the Kanye West’s and Jay Z’s. The guys that are only here for a minute, they’re the guys that take their eye off the ball and veer off to the side.
I came across this popular Instagram video of Ms. Ellie Goulding wiling out to Burial in her car on the way to a Beyoncé gig. What are the chances of you guys making music with her and introducing some Trap/Hip Hop tones into her back catalogue?
I’d love for that to happen to be honest, she’s killing it. It would be crazy to do something with her, she’s a great talent and people across the world know her – she’s big in the US. She’s not just a great talent but she’s actually flying the flag at the same time. If something comes out of that, that’d be great but I don’t know whether it would, but I’m down. I’m down to do something like that.