Truancy Volume 324: Byron Yeates

Anyone who’s witnessed Byron Yeates DJ over the past five years will be familiar with the rave transcendent journeys the Berlin-based DJ brings to the dancefloor. The Radiant Records founder has been on hot form for a minute and hasn’t shown any signs of slowly down, taking his strain of 90s tech and pumping house trance numbers on a series of continually more impressive gigs and bigger crowds. A party starter of the highest regard, Yeates has embraced an authentic ethos of community and inclusivity, which he’s taken from his humble beginnings as a promoter in Ireland all the way to throwing one of the most forward-thinking and progressive parties Berlin had to offer at the time. He’s since started a new night called La Noche with fellow floor-blazers THC and DHC, a night focused on bringing  high energy, punchy house rhythms and proggy flavours to a queer centred space for FLINTA people. Such enthusiasm has translated quickly to his own music too, using 2020 lockdown to spend sometimes 12 hours a day deep-diving into learning how to produce. This hyper-focused outlook has paid off big time in the form of two record releases on Radiant – the playful and breakbeat-laden ‘Sweat Ur Prayers EP’ and his forthcoming follow up in ‘Time Machine’. Promising flirtatious sensibilities and sophisticated groove control, this one should be in heavy rotation as the summer circuit anthems begin to spread. His Truancy Volume he’s recorded for us is no different, the signature sound that he’s perfected on full display, powering through records from the likes of newcomers Luuk Van Dijk, dub versions of Vanessa Daou, and 90s tribal rollers from Onionz. A wake-up session to get stuck into just in time for the weekend ahead.

Hey Byron, thanks for taking out the time to answer some questions and doing this mix for us! So just to start, and I thought I’d go way back for this, you’ve talked about how your parents were massively into the underground music scene wilst you were growing up but you had a period where you were more into bands. Can you tell us about that? Who were you listening to? “My parents were super young when they had me, they DJ’d and threw parties. I grew up around dance music but as a teenager was more into bands. I was listening to a lot of The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Smashing Pumpkins, Primal Scream, The Stone Roses, New Order, Curve, Hole, The Pixies etc.. I still listen to a lot of these actually, especially when I’m travelling or doing things around the house and want a bit of a break or reset from dance music.”

So what was the catalyst that made you circle back round to dance music? You had started to throw some parties, correct? Where were you throwing these? “I guess when you’re in a teenager you kind of rebel against anything your parents are into or don’t really appreciate it. I think the catalyst for me circling back around to dance music probably started with the electro clash era and going out in London under age and finding my own path or taste into dance music. I started throwing parties back in Ireland and learning how to DJ (on vinyl) with one of my best friends Eoin (Eoin DJ). We were spending all of our money on records and constantly practicing and listening to all kinds of electronic music.”

Did your parents lend you their Technics or did you buy your own decks in the end? “When I lived at home I would mess around with my parents records when they weren’t there but by the time I actually had money to buy my own records I had already moved out. I would mainly use my friends decks or practice in the pub across from old apartment or in the club when it was closed and when I lived with Eoin DJ, he had decks which we would use.”

You’ve described these years as very formative and having a huge impact on you to the way you play now. What made these years so important to you? The people, the parties, the music or a mixture of all? “I think the fact that I was exposed to it at such a young age and always around it, I don’t really know any different. A lot of the music I remember from that time, especially the early years in San Francisco etc I still listen to and play today and then getting to an age where I was buying music and learning to DJ with one of my best friends (still to this day) and now producing music with one another is a pretty special experience and I’m very grateful for that.”

I’m not sure exactly what year you moved to Berlin but I was reading a past interview where you mentioned that the rose tinted glasses of regular trips to Berlin came off a bit once you eventually settled here full time. Can you tell us about that? “I moved to Berlin in 2017 after having visited, DJ’d and partied over here for a number of years prior. Regarding the rose tinted glasses, I was probably referring to the difference of living here full time compared to just visiting and partying or whatever over here. Berlin is a great city but definitely a difficult place to live at times.”

Were you also learning to produce with everything going on or did that come a bit later? What was the learning curve and how did that bring you to your debut release ‘Sweat Ur Prayers’? “I had done a few things with friends or sat in with them while they produced and learnt a bit and observed. But it was until 2020 when I really gave it a proper go. My friend bought me a hard drive, got me a copy of Abelton and gave me some hard wear and literally locked me in her studio one night and said “figure it out! “I laugh when I look back, but it was definitely the push I needed and something I’m eternally grateful for. I would spend about 12 hours most days during this time just learning. I don’t know if it would’ve happened really without the lockdown, I was working full time before and running the label, party and DJing so didn’t have much free time. I also found it near impossible to dig or listen to dance music during this period so just focused on making it instead.”

What’s your relationship with drum and bass? Later on in the year you released a drum and bass track called ‘Activate’ with Brandi on D.Tiffanys Planet Euphorique label, citing that it was a very special track to you. “This was also something that blossomed during lockdown, it wasn’t something I’d really given much thought or interest to before but my boyfriend was playing lots of D&B and jungle mixes and I got really into it through him really. It was a way for us to listen to electronic music when we didn’t want to listen to house or techno but still wanted a bop. That track is him singing into an Iphone on my couch in my old apartment when i just put a beat down. It is very dear to me.”

Can you share any tracks or mixes that really bring you back to specific time or place? “Oh my god there are so, so many! We’d be here all day, lol! Some of my all time favourite mixes would be; Sasha & Digweed – Renaissance, Terry Francis – Architecture, John Talabot – Fact Mix and Track; Big Time Sensuality (fluke mix) – Bjork.”

How much do you prepare for specific sets? Or are your Rekordbox folders more of an ongoing process depending on the state of them when you’re booked? One of my favourite mixes of yours is the B2B with Roza for Refuge where you two go from downtempo, trip hop, Curve, jungle and drum and bass quite seamlessly. I’ve always thought B2B sets are a good indicator of how well prepped your folders are, is that at all a correct assumption here? ““I usually create playlists through iTunes and then transfer via Rekordbox. I look at the set time I’m playing, the venue and who’s playing before or after me. It can also depend on what genre or vibe I wanna play. I have things arranged that way and I’m constantly adding/subtracting to them. For the Refuge Radio shows I do, I usually organize things by mood and then bpm, that way I can mix curve into a jungle track for example or just use the pads at the beginning or end of track to kind of blend them in (if the bpms dont match). I get to play b2b sets a lot more recently, but tend to only do them with friends or people I have an idea with what they play. I like the challenge or getting things together that work for playing with different people.”

Can you tell us about three albums that a) define you getting into electronic music in general, b) maybe a midway album when you were fully invested in DJing and and c) a recent album that you’ve especially enjoyed?

A) Bjork – Debut
B) Leftfield – Leftism
C) A.S.O – A.S.O

Could you describe the process of creating this mix? Was there a specific message or feeling you wanted to convey? “This is pretty much just a collection of records I’ve been playing the last couple of months, bringing the BPM back down a bit and trying to let the records breathe and groove flow a bit more.”

Last, usual question from us, what was the last thing to put a big smile on your face and when was the last time you had a proper dance? “The last thing to put a big smile on my face was yesterday when my working visa for the states got approved and the last time I had a proper dance was to OK Williams at my party La Noche at one of the closing parties at Poing in Rotterdam.”

Byron Yeates: Soundcloud, Instagram, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor


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