Following on from 2018's Cosmic Borders, Manchester's Yant has returned to Jay Clarke's BLACKAXON imprint with four new cuts of mind-bending techno. A devilish concoction of driving basslines, dark energy and relentless groove, Hydro is laying the foundations for the future of techno.
EARMILK had the chance to catch up with Yant to chat about the inspiration behind Hydro, the highly-anticipated return to raving, and what's next in store for him — as well as providing an exclusive mix to give us a deeper feel for the sound his latest EP emulates. From the mechanical synths and myriads of bleeps in "Hydro 1" to Jay Clarke's extra-terrestrial, secret weapon "Hydro 3," this mix serves everything you can expect to hear throughout Hydro and beyond. It's essential listening for those of us itching to get back to the dancefloor.
EARMILK: When did you start working on the Hydro EP, and what inspired your sound for it?
Yant: I finished the tracks around 2/2.5 years ago now! So, it’s been a while! But I’m hoping they’ve stood the test of time on this one, the feedback so far has been good and that kind of gives the tracks a new life for me and re-instils some confidence in them. I wanted to take the concept of hydro as the purest and freshest water. We need water to survive, it’s something so simple but yet so satisfying and necessary. It also kind of links to where I live in Manchester, it’s a pure, no-bullshit place — the water isn’t hard water here, it’s pure, and I think that describes the scene here. It isn’t showy for the cameras or to please anyone else. It’s honest about itself. So, I wanted to take this concept and give each track a different angle and mood, all of the tracks are similar but completely different in the mood and sounds, they’re stripped back and raw. They just focus on the necessary elements.
EM: You’re carving out your own very unique and recognisable sound — a masterful balance between keeping things groovy and fun but without losing the driving force behind it. Was it a long road of trial and error before you found what works for you, or have you always known what sort of sound you wanted to pursue?
Yant: Aw that’s a nice thing to say, honestly thank you! I feel like it's only recently I’ve gained a much clearer sense of direction and have become more sure of the sound that I am pushing. It’s taken a long time to find that with constant self-doubt on my shoulder, I know some other artists struggle with that too and I think the key to it is to build something new, make what you want — yes look for feedback on your music, but don’t change your tracks to please somebody else’s ideal. It has to have a big part of you within it. I’ve been producing for over 10 years now. I’ve experimented with all styles of music and still do at times, but I’ve found my direction and my main focus!
EM: I saw that you’ve recently joined the Make Me A DJ team, if you could give aspiring DJs/producers one vital tip, what would it be?
Yant: Make music for fun and for yourself, don’t change what you do to please or impress others. Have confidence in your own sound and don’t get too influenced by your surroundings. If you’re a nice person and you put in passion, time, effort and stick at it for long enough there’s no way to fail! (Maybe that was more than one tip, but those are the most important for me).
EM: How do you think things will be different once we return to dancefloors?
Yant: I think over time things will become more normal, but it’s probably going to take a while. I don’t like thinking about it to be honest, we’ll just have to wait and see and take things as they come! Although one thing I do hope is that there is a change in the way promoters seek to book artists (headline culture). But I think honestly this change needs to come at the grassroots level and requires partygoers being open-minded to attending events not just for the ‘name’. I believe this will also come from the events who can build up a strong reputation where their attendees trust their judgement in music and their ability to bring new and unknown exciting artists to the fold. This would be great! Also headline artists being a bit more realistic with their fees too.
EM: It looks like Haus22’s Techno in the Skatepark could well be one of the first events back (fingers crossed) – are you at all nervous for how the transition back to raves might be, or is it just excitement at this stage?
Yant: It really is just excitement. I have plenty of unreleased music I can’t wait to play and won’t be holding back! We’ve all been deprived of the dancefloor and being able to go and release, something most of us did every weekend. But so far we’ve missed around 18+ weeks. Everybody will be ready for it, with a fresh energy. Last year was class too, so it’s bound to be a special one!
EM: Is there anywhere in particular you’ve missed whilst things have been closed down, or a certain space you’re excited to get back to?
Yant: The White Hotel, to represent Manchester, it’s on my doorstep. Always a class raw vibe with varied, exciting and often less obvious artists, I like that they take risks. The obvious trips to Berghain, where I always leave super inspired (and rough). Also Village Underground and FOLD in London, shout out to both of the crews!
EM: What’s next in store for you, in the bigger picture, once normality somewhat resumes?
Yant: I have a couple of tracks coming out on a split with Hitam on Platform22, another full release coming out on Setaoc Mass’ SK11X imprint later in the year which will be 006. Also a remix for my good friend Jan aka Rove Ranger which I can’t wait to share too! I have more planned but due to the coronavirus situation those have been pushed back until a later date. It’s all exciting stuff, but I don’t want to say too much about it just yet. Hopefully when the clubs reopen and travelling resumes ‘normally’ we can re-plan the gigs I missed out on this year including debuts in India, Copenhagen and Amsterdam which I was so excited for — but there are far bigger and more important issues in the world right now. We need to stay safe but sane, so we have to take things one step at a time!
EM: Something slightly less serious to end… If you had to play a set that was just one tune on repeat the whole time, what would that track be?
Yant: Haha well… Picking one track is never fair, so let’s stick to one less serious one, but still a pumper. I discovered this over lockdown. It’s tried and tested, played multiple times one after the other on YouTube… Enjoy! [Click below]
Hydro can be streamed and purchased via Bandcamp.