Interview: Yamen + EDA
If you’re even a causal fan of discerning, intricate, often minimal sounds, chances are you’ve encountered Yamen + EDA at some point along the way.
The French duo, born and raised in Montpellier, have seen their stock rise quickly in recent times, with releases for the likes of One Records, Earlydub and LAATE. Of course, if you’ve delved deeper into the boys’ discography, you’ll also know too well that it’s far from simply classy minimal fare for which they’re known. Indeed, the debut release from their Maison Mere label is a case in point. An intoxicating combination of intriguing sounds, it touches on a variety of different vibes and keeps us second-guessing throughout. Which, quite simply, is what those of us who know their sound well have become accustomed to over time.
With all things in mind, we put a few questions to the lads recently – and here’s what they had to say for themselves…
“…we try to create something new everyday”
How did you two meet and at what stage did you decide to become a duo?
We used to make music on our own in the same city (Montpellier), and then we met on Myspace back in 2008. In 2011, 3 years after we met twe decided to become a duo. It was a natural move, we had a few studio sessions together which were very productive so we decided to play and make music together.
Can you talk us through your production process? Who does what basically?
We always start with a blank page and the process is always the same, with both of us jamming on the machines, then during the jam we keep adding stuff that we feel right in the track; each one gives his personal touch. We don’t really need to speak as we know each other perfectly. Then when we have something which sounds good, we start building the track by giving each other ideas.
Do you both have different skills when it comes to production? What would you say are one another’s strongest skills?
Yamen: I think we have more or less the same skills but in the process EDA is more likely to make melodies on synths and bass, and also he is very strong at using computers, not like me (ahahah). When it comes to building and mixing a track he knows exactly what to do.
EDA: When it comes to making a beat or grooves he knows exactly how to do it as well, I just need to put a pad and the beat goes on.
Do you tend to produce on hardware or software? Do you think it really matters anymore?
We are using both, we think it’s nice to mix software and hardware, it actually gives you more possibilities. When we first started making music we only used software, then little by little we started to buy more and more hardware. Sometimes we can make a track without software, sometimes we use it more, but we think that’s still essential to use tools from software. You can easily build a beat with machines then add synths from software on it for example. Hardware gives you the opportunity to go faster in the creative process. So yeah it matters to have hardware.
Over the years you’ve made close relationships with the likes of One Records. How did your relationship with Adam come about and what made you feel it was a good place for your music?
We already knew Adam and One Records because we were following and playing the music from the label, so we decided to send demos to Adam. He answered in a positive way, he was very interested in our music and decided to sign us. (Yamen) decided to go to Birmingham to party with him, then it all started from there. Now we are a solid team, we partied and played a lot together, we feel it’s the right place for us and our music because we share the same vision even if we all have a different style.
Can you tell us a bit about growing up in France? Was it a very inspirational place to grow up music-wise?
We grew up surrounded by music, when we were kids, there were a lot of nice music coming from France by the like of Daft Punk and all the French hip hop music. Montpellier has always been a city of electronic music but when we decided to take a step further into electronic music, all the clubs started to close and the electronic scene of the city has almost disappeared. So we weren’t in the right place at the right time, that’s why we decided to explore places such as Berlin, Birmingham and London. But it’s still a place where we feel good to create and make music.
Do you both remember the first time you heard a record or album that really motivated you and inspired you to make your own stuff?
Honestly we don’t remember, but the idea of starting making our own music came naturally, we were both playing instruments before getting into electronic music, so it’s more the process of creating something that lead us into making our own stuff. Of course we have artists that inspired us to make it such as Gemini or Zip but not a particular record to be honest.
Lets chat about your new label, Maison Mere. What’s the idea behind it all and why was now the right time to start your own label?
Maison Mere is a platform we created to share our music and our friends music. So the main idea is to collect and release music we feel without any genre limitations. It can be minimal house, breakbeat, garage, as long as we feel the music we release it. Launching our label was an idea we had for a long time, we spent a lot of time in the studio and we feel more comfortable with our music now that’s why we felt it was the right time to start to release our music on our own imprint.
What should we be looking out for on the label over the next while then? Will you be inviting other artists to join you on it?
We are already working on the second release which will be an EP from us but under our alias (Y&E) then we are collecting tracks for a V/A with music from other artists and friends.
And would you ever release an album? Is this something you’ve considered at all?
Releasing an album is something we have in mind, but we feel it’s not the right time now to do it. Sometimes we produce more personal and album oriented stuff that we keep on the side. We will definitely do an album when we will feel that time has come for it.
Is music a full-time thing for you both or what occupies your time outside of music?
We try to spend few hours everyday in the studio. Not necessarily all day, but we try to create something new everyday. Outside of music we have part time jobs which gives us time to make music. We see friends & family, party, travel, spend time in records shops, normal stuff that human beings do.
In terms of gigs, you’ve played in the likes of fabric and Renate and regularly throw parties in your native Montpellier. Is there one place above all else where you’d love to play and why?
There are so many places were we would like to play, honestly there’s so much great clubs in Europe and around the world, but for experience and the atmosphere it would be amazing to play at Robert Johnson.
Same Q for collaborators or labels – is there one person you’d love to really work with more than any other?
There are so many talented people we would like to work with honestly, so let’s say we use our joker card for this one!
Label aside, what more can we be looking forward to from you guys in 2018?
We have a release coming soon on John Dimas’ label Elephant Moon, under our alias (Y&E), then another One Records EP, then a few other projects that we are working on.
And can you quickly give us a rundown of 5 tracks of yours you’re most proud of?
Sure! Lets go for the following:
‘Sterope II’ on Earlydub
‘Flash Forwards’ on Earlydub
‘Pasteis’ coming on Maison Mere
‘The Mankind’ on One Records
‘Breakfast Cereals’ on Maison Mere
Yamen + EDA’s ‘Retrospect’ EP is out early February on their Maison Mere label