Since Yoyaku‘s first release in October 2015, their many sublabels have become recognised as the gold standard of underground music production. For many listeners and DJs, whether the record is from the Hostom or Aku sublabels, they are simply a must-buy, sometimes even without a pre-purchase listen.
For all their sublabels, Yoyaku have never had a primary label, until now. Unsurprisingly, Cabanne is leading the way for the birth of the new label with his Stereophobique EP on Yoyaku001. As soon as the needle drops, you can tell straight away that it’s got that Yoyaku touch.
The A side ‘Erobique’ showcases how to perfectly construct an original sounding minimal track absolutely packed with groove. The bassline is infectiously punchy and sonically demands to be played from start to finish during peak hours. The claps and synth pads compliment the bassline to an almost euphoric state, paving the way for the track to be an afterhours staple to keep that crowd going beyond sunrise.
On the flip side, ‘Terepho’ showcases Cabanne’s versatility as a producer. Imagine the A side is outgoing friend full of energy, the B side is the introvert with the more chilled back approach to life. Terepho oozes class in a much more sophisticated sense. The blissful piano-like synths in the background allows the track to whisk into a mesmerised state
Unlike Erobique, the B side isn’t going to whip a crowd into a frenzy at 3am, but then it’s not supposed to. This one feels as though it’s meant to be played on your home turntable. On your first listen, just sit back in your favourite chair and let this one play out.
The Yoyaku contingent have grown steadily in the past couple of years to become main players in the minimal scene. Yet this hasn’t been a growth stimulated by mass amounts of hype or pushing themselves commercially, it has been almost completely organic.
When you talk about the French outfit, you’re now talking about eleven different labels and sublabels, a booking agency, a distributor, a record shop and a whole host of outstandingly talented DJs.
In the ever-expanding underworld of minimal music, producers can often fall into the ‘Romanian trap’ of trying to make music as if it were made by a well known Romanian DJ. But not the Yoyaku guys and girls. Their take on minimal is fresh, engaging and has it’s own distinct features. You could actually argue there’s even a ‘Yoyaku sound’ now.
The roster has grown staggeringly over the past couple of years, covering all bases. There’s proven scene veterans such as Cabanne and Maayan Nidam, there’s freshly established talent such as Varhat and Janeret, artists who have proven their value such as Lamache, Lowris and Roger Gerressen, whilst also championing up-and-coming talent such as Zendid or Oshana.
There is an organic family-like feel to the roster. Janeret has labelled them as being like a ‘second family’ to him and Oshana claimed she was naturally drawn to the hungry and hardworking agency, dubbing them a ‘perfect match’. It’s a working relationship between the agency and the artists, with both parties pushing each other to move forward rather than one using the other for their own gain.
Although perhaps no one better suits the ethos of Yoyaku better than Varhat. The French producer has previously said he ‘needs to produce music, just like I must eat’, giving you an insight into the work ethic of the associated labels. However, the most staggering fact regarding his production is that he sends a track to Yoyaku’s manager, Benjamin Belaga, at the end of every working day. Only his most accomplished music is released but any producer or even music appreciator would be amazed at being able to send a track to someone every working day.
Unsurprisingly, Yoyaku boast their most loyal fanbase in France and do the majority of their associated parties at the world famous Concrete, which will host the Yoyaku001 release party on September 8th. One just has to look at the line-ups of Concrete’s famous ‘Samedimanche’ parties to see how highly the crew are rated playing alongside the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, RPR Soundsystem and Zip.
Then of course we have their labels. It’s impossible to talk about the likes of Cabanne, Varhat and Janeret without mentioning the no fewer than 11 labels that Yoyaku claim, including Aku, Hostom, Joule Imprint, TARTOUFFE, Trimurti, YoY, YOYAKUZA, YYK no label, YYK showcase series, YYY series and now Yoyaku.
The splitting of labels may seem like a pedantic exercise to someone from the outside world, but treat your ears to the different sublabels and you’ll hear why they’re split up. If all the music was released under one label there’s a risk that the music being released becomes confined into one specific sound. By operating numerous sublabels, it allows for maximum artist exploration of sounds, even if they’re just subtle differences.
Speaking of subtle differences, when it comes to the Yoyaku labels no detail is too small or too inconsequential. A simple look at a record sleeve gives you an insight into how much thought and artistic value goes into the general aesthetic of the labels.
Continuing the organic feel, the mastering and distribution of all Yoyaku records are done in-house. The mastering gives the crew total control over the final sound of the record compared to if it was outsourced. Distribution is done via their online as well as a host of trusted record sellers. The site offers solace to those in remote parts of France or even in countries that have record stores few and far between. However, one big selling point of the online store is the exclusives they stock every single month.
There’s also the small matter of the Yoyaku store, which stands as a physical base and a reference point among the cluttered streets of Paris. However, if you’ve been lucky enough to visit, you’ll most likely have been stunned by the exquisite layout and design of the shop. You also can’t talk about the store without mentioning the famed Yoyaku instore sessions, which have become a badge of honour for those invited, such as Cristi Cons, S.A.M and Daniel Bell.
With the impressive Résumé that Yoyaku have built up, you might be thinking ‘What’s next?’ and that’s the beauty of it. Nobody knows. There’s no plan of world domination or even musical domination plan here, you can tell that from the limited promotion done by them. If you want to find good music, you’ll find them. If you want to find a good party, you’ll end up at one of their nights.
There might be a musical domination plan here actually, but it’s most definitely not intended.