Xtrah will make his debut on DJ Hype and Pascal’s legendary Playaz this month.
Set for release on January 22, Droplets (a collaboration with Cyberfunk act Genic) and Murderation have both been bubbling as unreleased weapons for those lucky enough to own them for several years and mark the start of a busy year both the label and artist.
We caught up with Yasin Xtrah to find out more about the release. We spoke to him exactly a year ago when the landscape looked very very different. Get up to date:
We spoke this time last year and you were about to drop your album. Things kinda changed track a bit not long after did they?
Yeah, things went a bit mad! I didn’t think it was the right time to release at the start of a global lockdown so put everything on a back burner music wise so I could try and gauge what’s to come and how we should be adjusting into this new world. Cyberfunk are now building up a Patreon program and the album is to be involved in that process.
Nice. And in the meantime, you’re on Playaz!
Yeah we’ve been chatting since 2017 about this. Droplets was already a couple of years old at that point. We’re both doing our own thing so it takes a while for me and Hype to catch each other sometimes but we linked up in 2020 and felt the time was right to get this one out there. I got the Genic boys in to give the track a 2021 boost and they did a wicked job, Big ups Josiah and Joshua. Kev’s been buzzing about it and really supportive so it’s great to see it finally getting out there.
I’ve heard Hype play it a few times over the last few years…
Yeah he’s played it at some big festivals for sure, he’s been behind the track since he first heard it.
It’s got that old raw, buzzy Playaz feel to it. Unruly!
Thanks. It’s a fun tune! The riff came about through me playing around with my Moog one day then I just built the track around that. I remember the reaction when I first played it out, it was at Fabric and I was playing in room 2. I remember the crowd reaction was wicked and I remember Dimension and Seb (Skankandbass) were very into it and asking what it was. Good and fun memories! I knew it was going to do well from that moment and that would have been around 2015. I was just trying to have fun with this tune and then Genic brought that final shine it needed, they are the future! Mark my words.
Yeah big up Genic…
Of course! They smashed it. I’d lost some of the project files because it was made on logic from which I switched over to studio one in 2015 so they brought the drums up to date and brought their energy to it. I might do an A-B tests on Patreon to show the creative process and show how music can be held back and progressed even when you might think its releasable, it would be good to hear people’s reactions after showing them early versions and the stages between the first and final of a song. Its an interesting process and one you can only learn when you’ve been doing this a while you know? It happens with my music a lot. When I released Gravitas with Noisia on Invisible, that had been worked on and I had been playing it out for a couple of years and then Noisia added their touch to it and brough new life to the track. People with fresh ears bring a new perspective and that is what music needs sometimes. Fresh ears and ideas.
They do. How about Murderation?
Yeah that started off quite a while ago too, 2017, and I’ve been playing it in different sets, updating it every now and again. I’m happy with the end result. After going back and forth with Hype I finally finished it in 2020
This seems to be a theme – let time take control, don’t rush stuff.
Totally. I think if music stands up in your sets for a few years and it’s still sounding exciting and fresh then it’ll stand up in other people’s sets for a long time, too. You can only really tell that from playing music out and testing it on dancefloors which is a privilege that’s been taken away from artists right now but one I’ve been lucky enough to have had for the last 10 years. Now it’s all online and gauging people’s reactions is very different but we must keep adapting.
Yeah that’s quite worrying – the only place to test the tunes is the dance!
I agree man. The whole way of coming through now is very different and I think if I was 10 years younger then I might not be able to do it. You need to be very camera friendly now and, as cliché as it sounds, I’m a bit introverted and not that comfortable in that type of situation. I’ve tried to break myself out of my comfort zone – we talked about it last time when I announced my album – but it’s an ongoing thing. Even in that Instagram video you mentioned earlier with Kev, I was enjoying the moment but I wasn’t comfortable in that vid. I’m not comfortable in any pictures really but you have to get used to it. And it seems now to make any type of noise on social media you need to have your face in it, your selfie or your video. It’s the times innit.
That was the whole process we spoke about in your last interview….
100% It’s part of the game now and that’s it. I think it’s especially important to get my face out there with this release because I’ve never been on Playaz. To a lot of people this will be the first they’ve heard of me. Playaz is a big boy on the dancefloor side of things, or jump-up whatever people want to call it, so it’s exciting to be doing this and pushing myself in a new direction. Its always been a diverse label to me personally and I have been a fan for many years so it’s an honour to be releasing these tunes on such a prestigious label. Big up Hype for making it happen!
Playaz is straight-up drum & bass, no subgenre. They’ve always done their own thing regardless of trend or what’s in right now. They stick to their guns.
Absolutely. And Kev is a serious G. He’s been really supportive of me from years back. Booked me for his parties, had me down at Kiss FM etc etc so it’s a pleasure to be working with him and the label on this and maybe some future things if it’s right for all of us. Who knows what’s in the pipeline?
In the meantime, you’re about to launch your Patreon…
Yeah hopefully next month. That’s exciting. I like the freedom of being a producer so it’s taking me out of my comfort zone again. But then I also love the idea of sharing knowledge and getting each other inspired in these lockdown days. Its giving myself a new framework to work within. I’ve seen some really interesting Patreons, I’ll be involving Cyberfunk artists like Genic and hopefully we’ll be able to inspire anyone who’s interested, help develop more up and coming artists and help generate more support for the label and artists who work hard to keep this wonderful music we love so very dearly alive and well. Thanks to everyone who’s supporting so far!