Friday, October 8, 2010

DJ's that could save your life: Kevin Yost

I have a love hate thing with Kevin Yost which goes back a long way (I love him - kind of and he most likely hates me). In short, when UM was trying to establish itself I exchanged emails with Mr Yost, those exchanges went well and progressed to the point of supplying questions for an interview of sorts. These days I know superstars are busy people, but I was young and maybe a little abrupt in chasing up the questions. In the end it turned a bit sour and I got told to politely 'go away'. Since those days I've had therapy to get over it and now I'm okay!

Kevin Yost DJ Set Summer 2010 by kevinyost

That aside, Kevin Yost falls into my category of DJ's that could save your life. His name is synonymous with jazzy, percussive deep tracks that ignite a set and wrap you up in their sound. His name is a marque of quality, one I'm man enough to admit I have plenty of in my crate despite our 'past' - for the record I'm sure Mr Yost hasn't been affected by the incident as he's continued to make music since with no ill effects.

A musical child who soon got into playing the drums and keys, listening to Chuck Mangione records and more from his rural home in Waynesboro, USA. At the age of eleven he started Dj'ing on some cheap decks.

"I started doing birthday parties for friends and school dances, then eventually weddings. It was a slow process from there to here. I really had no set goal but to play music and make people happy. It was not till I started experimenting with making music I realized that I also wanted and needed to create."


Like all of us that important first bought 12" is a cracker - Cameo, Word Up is Yost's. Mine, Pet Shop Boys, Domino Dancing - not sure what that says about the two of us!?

With those early sets he soon developed the basics that would keep him at the forefront of underground house for decades to come. Studying music composition and percussion at Shenandoah Conservatory furthered his musical abilities and strengthened his jazz sensibilities.

"Back when I started, it was very important as an artist to stick with a certain sound and really develop it. Things are so fast now. Styles come and go so quick, I am not sure that matters much anymore. At that time my manger said I should do what I really want to do and believe in it. So that's what I did with mixing the open, free style of jazz with a more syncopated structure of electronic music."

At 23 Yost began sending out demo tapes of his jazz infused style to select independent labels, from here the relationship with iRecords was born. The two developed the sound and so 'One Starry Night' came to be, selling over 50,000 units worldwide.

"The song “One Starry Night” was very important to me because I was going through a dry spell and I always wanted to make a song like that. That was the song I really wanted to do with a lot of percussion and stuff. It just happened. Within like 15 minutes it came together."

KY is quoted as saying "My manager who started i! Records is one of the first people to get hold of me when I started out. There was a very good collaboration in wanting to achieve the same goal musically. I'd say "Dreams Of You" and "One Starry Night" would be my favorites from that time. These were songs that had been in my mind for a while and to have them be received so openly was such a great feeling.

Dreams Of You, using Yost's alter ego Peter Funk's name too is without doubt one of my all time favourites, introduced to me by Mark Farina's Frisko Disko all those years ago. Imagining life without that tune doesn't really bear thinking about given the amount of music Yost has gone on to produce and not just on iRecords. Emotive, Guidance, Twisted, Plate, Dessous, Distance, OM, Azuli, Neurotraxx and more have all been graced with tunes too.

These days Yost continues to be on the international circuit, driven by his love of music and perhaps more importantly his diversity of taste. Not one for dance music 24/7, his jazz infused influences run wide and far yet on who might be carrying the musical torch currently he has strong views, "I think there is a lot of great stuff out there today. But nothing that really has not been done before. And with the amazing technology we have at out fingertips for very little money, I am surprised we have not really progressed musically. The artists who have their fans in their hands should take advantage of that power and be more creative, push the envelope, and try something new."

Which raises an interesting point echoed around the industry, with so much music and the market being eroded by piracy, amongst other factors, what difference can an artist bring to their sound that keeps their image fresh and inviting - something I think Yost has pushed in his live sets, where most people imagine he'll be playing his greatest hits, but in fact it's more of a testing ground for his new material.

As the Internet continues to change the scene Kevin is working on two different live shows. One that'll be more electronic and the other for a more musical crowd that wants to sit and watch and really see the music played out live. Not to mention his work on writing classical music and music for independent films. Demonstrating the passion he has for music which we've all shared and enjoyed over the years.

"If no one ever listened to the music I made ever again, I would still make music, that’s what I do… I enjoy doing it. I get to see a lot of the world very quickly. Going from place to place very fast. I love making music and I love DJing"

Links to Kevin Yost: 


Extracts taken from Crossfade & Joonbug, Miami

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