For the uninitiated, Winter Music Conference week in Miami is one of the most important weeks of the year for global dance music. Many of dance music biggest names gather for what's essentially a week long party, with multiple events and performances set throughout the day (and most of the night)... all culminating in Ultra Music Festival that weekend.
It really is a big week for dance music, as DJs tend to release new music, and drop some of their best performances during that week. One DJ I can't wait to see is Belgian superstar Yves V, who's currently scheduled to play at Miami Massive, on March 25th. Having played multiple big name festivals (most notably, multiple Tomorrowland shows in his home country), Yves is no stranger to putting together incredible high energy sets to appease crowds around the world. Having deejayed for many years now, recently his productions have began to gain more attention. Recent collaborations with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Sander Van Doorn, and many others have only contributed to his surge in popularity. Now, as he prepares for to sojourn in Miami yet again this year, Yves gave us the pleasure of sitting down with him and speaking with us about his career, influences, and his general thoughts on the dance music scene. So read below to gain some insight into the mind of one of dance music's rising stars.
And while you read, check out this awesome, exclusive mix made for EARMILK fans! At one hour, it might be the perfect reading companion.
EARMILK: Great to speak with you. Let's start off with some of your inspirations. What were some of your biggest musical influences growing up?
Yves V: Well... when I was 12 years old, I went to music school and played the violin, something completely different from now, haha. And after that, maybe around 13 or 14, I started to listen to rock music, and hip-hop… Still, a different kind of music than what I'm into now. At that time, I was a big fan of bands like Green Day, Nirvana… Pearl Jam… lots of different kinds of music.
EM: So, do you think that your ability to read notes, and play instruments… Do you think that translated well into your DJ and production career now?
YV: No, actually. [laughter] I actually really regret doing violin and not piano, because to me, that's a more important instrument to learn at an early age. Now, when I make melodies, I have to draw them myself and it takes more time. And my violin? Haha, I can't use that thing anymore now. Maybe I can still hold it correctly [laughter].
EM: Sounds like you listened to a number of different genres growing up. So what actually inspired you to start deejaying and producing dance tracks as a career?
YV: Actually, it took awhile before I started really producing. The first time I really heard house music was at all the festivals. At that time in Europe, obviously Daft Punk was really big. The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, etc... and for me that was my first introduction into EDM. Oh, and the techno scene was also really big around that time too. The Detroit scene, like Jeff Mills… that was the first electronic music that I really liked. But EDM has been around in Europe forever, and of course in Belgium, trance has long been popular. Those were the sounds that inspired my DJ career. Of course, around 15 or so when I started DJing on vinyl, it was very different, you know? I remember being in a club and hearing a song, and thinking, "Man I want that song." So you spend the next year digging through vinyl trying to find it (laughter). Now it's so easy! You just stick your phone up to a speaker, turn on Shazam or whatever, and there you have it. So back when I started DJing, there weren't as many clubs playing this type of music. Now, it's definitely more popular, especially in America.
EM: Totally agree. Speaking of the popularity in America, you actually keep a pretty heavy tour schedule. Between Europe and American shows, you're constantly playing festivals and shows. And yet at the same time, you still have a pretty steady release of original productions. "Crackle" with D-Wayne, and "Amiga" of course… How do you find the time to balance the heavy tour schedule, with finding time to make your own productions?
YV: I have to say, it's really difficult. Between the touring, and all the traveling, it's takes a lot of my time. It's more difficult now, than two years ago, when I was more at home. And for me, I actually have a harder time producing tracks when I'm traveling. Like, I really need to be at home, in my studio to really settle in on a production. When I'm traveling, that gives me a great chance to put together some mashups, bootlegs, edits… things that I can apply to my DJ set or my radio show. But the productions have to wait until I get home. So yeah, getting time to work on productions can be difficult.
EM: Oh wow, so you rarely work on productions when your traveling.
YV: Yeah, rarely. Now, if I'm traveling throughout Europe it's different. Usually the distance from my house isn't so great, so I can get home during the week, maybe once or twice, and continue working on tracks. But if I'm traveling in Asia, or South American, or the States? Airports? Forget it. Also, during the quieter months (for example in January right after New Years), sometimes I'll work on multiple tracks. So that when the tour schedule picks up again, I'll have a nice catalog of tracks ready to go for release, that I worked on some time ago. It really gives you some space if you plan ahead like that. So yeah, a lot of it is proper time management and taking advantage of down time. Of course, it's easier if you're working with people on a track. Collaborations, you end up bouncing a lot of ideas back and forth, and a lot of the work gets done together.
EM: That's really good insight, man, thanks. Yeah, on twitter, often you see guys in airports or on trains, with their laptops. And they're always like, "working on a new track!" Or something like that. It sounds like for you though, most of your production work is done at home.
YV: Yeah. Of course, I can only speak for myself and my work style. Sometimes when you're touring, ideas come to you, and you have to get it done right then or you'll forget it (laughter). And if it's a small idea that I can do on the road, I do it. But I'm really not the kind of producer that can make an entire track on a flight, and be ready to play it as soon as a land. No, I need to take that idea home, and really tinker with it and perfect it in the studio.
EM: Well, even with your busy tour schedule, you continue to work on remixes, which are great. I absolutely LOVE your remix of the Tiesto classic, "Flight 643" by the way.
YV: Ah, thank you man. Yeah, that's one of the remixes where I went into a more techno-ish kind of sound. So actually, it was one of the Tiesto tracks that I always loved, and it was summer time or something, so I wanted it in my sets during my tour schedule. But I wanted a unique remix, or bootleg of the song. Honestly… I'm not really sure how I went with the techno sound. I started working on it, and within a day I was finished. Obviously I wanted to slow it down, but maintain the feel and the energy of the original. So I gave it more of a techno "umph" and it just worked. I sent it to Tiesto, and then HE loved it too, he played it during his sets and on his radio show.
EM: And what about some of your other remixes? I know you work pretty closely with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike as well, and you've remixed a couple of their tracks. So, what's your overall approach to remixing a track?
YV: Of course it depends on the track. When you have a classic song, you have to use all the best parts of the song, and try and put your own spin on it. Actually, the DV & LM one was tough, because we liked the original track so much! Many times you get commissioned for a remix for a track you don't actually like, and it becomes a challenge. In those cases, sometimes you have to make an original track [laughter]. It's not like that with DV & LM.
EM: And speaking of your style… in your sets, of course you favor the more popular, Dutch house style of electro-house, with hard kicks and a lot of energy. Honestly, your style has evolved quite a bit over the last few years… Your music definitely has more intricacies and energy than it did in the past. How do you think your style has evolved? What caused the evolution?
YV: That might be the most difficult question you've asked. Also, if you asked me, "so what is your style" I'm not sure how to answer that. I always just make what I like, and what I think the crowd will like in front of me. So yeah, I do use a lot of hard drops in my sets, and keep the energy levels high. But for me, the most important thing in music is that you keep some amount of emotion in your playing, that you feel the crowd, and really try and match the crowd. But to say that, "I'm doing only this kind of music, or this kind of style…" I don't think so. Because if I look at my upcoming releases, I have a lot of different types of music coming out, with lots of different sounds and styles.
EM: Of course man! I think that's why you were the perfect opener for Tomorrow world. Because your music is really diverse, but at the same time it has a lot of energy and really pumps a crowd up.
YV: Yeah, in my dj sets, and especially at live sets, I really like a lot of energy. That's what the people want.
EM: So how was it for you, opening Tomorrow World? You're a staple at the original show, Tomorrowland. You've performed there numerous times. And then you get to open the Inaugural Tomorrow World show in America. How was that?
YV: For me, it was really really special. I'm essentially a resident DJ at Tomorrowland. I've played 7 or 8 tomorrowland editions. So normally, it's really special, but it's only once a year. Now, I get to play it twice a year! I actually didn't know what to expect in the beginning, because one of the big draws to Tomorrowland is the way the mainstage is set in a very natural setting. In Belgium its actually in a coliseum! With the small mountain range… it really is a special thing. So I didn't know what to expect really, with tomorrow world. But I have to say, with the Chattahochee Hills area, it's SO big. And it's also in a really beautiful, natural setting. I was really impressed.
EM: Speaking of comparing the two, you're actually one of the few guys I've talked to that has played at both festivals. So I'm going to put you on the spot: Tomorrowland, tomorrow world… how do they honestly compare?
YV: The thing is… I really liked both of them. But to be honest, Tomorrolwnand is basically 30 minutes from my house [laughter]. So it's really cool to play there, because it's so big, and so many of my friends and family are there and they get to see me play. But when we went to the states for Tomorrow World, there was a team Belgium (love those guys for showing up, by the way!)… but it really felt more like we were on a vacation. It was like, we brought our awesome party to you guys [laughter]. Another big difference? Americans are crazy! I don't think I saw a single person wearing a normal outfit. Everyone was in some crazy costume, and partying. It was really cool to see. Big respect to them.
EM: Glad you liked it. Sounds like you're definitely going to play there again!
YV: Yeah, in my opinion it's only going to get bigger. As awesome as this past year was, they're going to make it even better in the coming years. I think Tomorrow World has a bright future, and I'm pretty confident I'll be playing there again.
EM: Well I'm really looking forward to hearing your set again, because it was great! Especially the very beginning of the set, you did this 1-2 minute mix medley, where you did really quick snippets of so many different songs. How on earth did you come up with that?! It was so cool.
YV: Haha, thanks. Yeah, it's because I love so many different genres of music. In Belgium, back in the day all the big DJs used to do that. Especially Trance; they would start off their sets with all the biggest, best classics. So I wanted to do something like that, but more for our style of music, and more contemporary. I think it worked really well, because almost every week someone emails me "can I get your intro?" [laughter].
EM: Of course, I remember being there, and when you came on with that intro people went NUTS.
YV: Yeah, the only difficult thing now is trying to come up with something as good as that one.
EM: Well, I just wanted to personally thank you for your awesome set, it started the festival off right. So what about new music? Anything coming down the pipeline that you can tell me about?
YV: Of course. I have a collab coming out with Chuckie very, very soon. We haven't decided on the name of the track yet, but it's going to reference "Old school" sounds in some way. Because we used an old school techno sound from back in the day, and made a totally new track.
EM: Oh that sounds awesome. Anything else coming up? Tours or more shows in America?
YV: Well my schedule… this year it was packed in really tightly. My visa for the States is currently scheduled for the end of this year, so I really want to try and plan a proper tour around that time. Because everyone is talking about touring in the States, and how awesome it is, so I really want to participate in that. But besides that, I have some big shows scheduled in Asia, and South America as well. And of course, Tomorrowland again this summer. So it's going to be another busy year, for sure.
EM: Awesome. I'm really looking forward to it! Anything you want to say to your fans out there?
YV: The only thing I can say to my fans is, I really, really, REALLY appreciate you. I'm doing it for you guys, and for the love of the music, and I just hope everyone enjoys it. Thanks you guys!
And thank you for reading! Check out Yves' links below, and if you're in Miami for WMC, make sure you catch Yves V at Miami Massive.