And opposite of you, I’m really interested in learning more about noise bands and punk. We caught up with the artist, one of our New Yorkers of the year , about taking NYC with her as she goes global.
yaeji boiler room nyc – Home
People who like Yaeji might also like these artists. Though she’s now signed with L.A.’s Godmode, her sound sits within a more global movement: lo-fi house. Yaeji’s output shares commonalities with other up-and-comers like DJ Boring, Ross from Friends, and Mall Grab, but her cover of the latter’s Guap” from earlier this year is a great illustration of what exactly puts Lee in a league of her own. Yaeji ‘s work circumvents many typical house trappings—like, say, repetitiveness to the point of making your eyes gloss over—thanks to what feels like a signature playfulness. She has a minimalist’s ear, curating the details in each of her songs to an impeccable degree, but she also knows how to keep things interesting with ornamental textures, layered vocals, and a hip-hop- and R&B-inspired touch. Altogether, it’s no wonder she’s able to capture the attention of those well outside the EDM scene.
My relationship with New York is a little confusing: I was born here but I don’t really remember that time too well. I’m a little shy from calling myself a New Yorker in that sense, but since I’ve been back, my connection to New York has been so, so deep and intimate, specifically with Brooklyn. When I tour, I try not to forget that, and that my music was mostly influenced by what I encountered here in Brooklyn. For my tour, it felt significant to me to bring DJs who are friends of mine, who came up in the Brooklyn scene. I had one for each leg of the tour. That was really huge for me, because I would hear them spin before me, and I would get into the energy they had built up to perform my set. In that sense, it felt like home, which was really soothing.
I’m relieved when, after showing up late, hungover, and apologetic to the SoHo café where I’m supposed to meet Yaeji , she lets me know that she’s had a late night, too. Yesterday she played a gig in Seattle, immediately flew back to New York, and proceeded to go out dancing at the Bushwick bar Mood Ring with her friends until the early hours of the morning. She smiles sweetly as she tells me this, peering at me through her trademark circular, Grandma-like gold spectacles, her eyes accentuated by subtle brushstrokes of Day-Glo makeup.
Local concert promoters Collective Minds took to Facebook on Thursday evening, 21 March, to announce that genre-defying Korean-American artist Yaeji will be returning to Singapore for one night only. It makes sense that Yaeji’s first Australian festival is Meredith Music Festival: she might be the best accidental enforcer of their ‘ no dickheads ‘ policy they’ve ever had.
Yaeji, full name Yaeji Kathy Lee, is a 24-year-old DJ , rapper, singer and producer whose trance- and house-influenced music radiates both infectious pulse and disarming vulnerability. When I first encountered Yaeji’s work, on her track Feel It Out ,” I had to listen a few times to understand what I was hearing: her singing is soft, unwavering, and almost chant-like, as if she’s telling you a secret, while her instrumentals veer toward 4 AM, end-of-night simmering bangers. Her music is initially bizarre, even uncomfortable, but undeniably alluring.
With such high-profile friends, has Yaeji ever considered collaborating with others? None that’s been released but I do have so many musician friends that all live in Brooklyn so it’s something that’s been going on in the background.” Keep your ears peeled in 2019.
The Brooklyn-based Yaeji makes warm, blissed-out house-pop, and she does it without ever raising her voice above a sleepy murmur. Like Robyn, Yaeji isn’t exactly prolific. She’s never made an album, and she seems to only come out with an EP or a single when the time is right. Yaeji has some experience remixing leftfield pop stars; she reworked Charli XCX‘s Focus ” last year. But it’s still a surprise to hear her taking on a Robyn track.
You can trace that value throughout the producer’s life. An only child born in Queens, Yaeji moved around frequently during her childhood, first around New York City, then to Atlanta, and then back to Seoul. She attributes this move back to South Korea in part to her parents’ concern that she was speaking more and more in English, becoming less Korean. In Seoul she switched between different international schools on an almost yearly basis. As a result, it was often difficult for Yaeji to settle in to any kind of community. It’s really hard to make friends,” she reflects, as if the thought has only just occurred to her.
On her version of Beach 2K20,” Yaeji uses Robyn’s sleepy hook as a sort of mantra, and she switches up the spoken intro, making it a into a bit of supremely unnatural dialog with Robyn. The newly reconstructed track is just as hypnotic as the original, in many of the same ways. Below, check out the Yaeji remix and the Robyn original.
Yaeji: I kind of see being a woman producer in the same way I view Pittsburgh. It’s a small city and there aren’t a ton of people but I think one of the pros you get out of it is that there are all these great people doing very different realms of music that show you there are so many different avenues you can take. And since they’re kind of their own thing because there aren’t as many people here, they dig deep and are experts in it. I think that’s cool. New York is such a different beast. It’s hard to even compare. A lot of things become very numbing there because it’s oversaturated all the time. It definitely made me realize a lot about my gender and race. It’s the most accentuated it’s ever been. It’s such a topic of discussion which is great. This kind of conversation happens a lot which made me learn a lot about it.
The same, of course, can be said for Yaeji. For now, she’s just excited to be out and about, playing shows or attending them, making music or just listening to it with friends. Regardless of what she’s doing and when and where she does it, there’s no doubt that Yaeji can find and form fertile communities that enable her to flourish. Those communities will surely only widen along with her audience.
In the summer of 2017, I was high on acid in the middle of Victoria Park in London. Lying on the grass looking up at the sky, I was taken to another dimension as a friend played me Yaeji’s song Feel It Out” for the first time. Like a lot of Yaeji’s music, it had an introspective quality that spoke to the experience of being on the outside looking in, or the inside looking out—a feeling that’s hard to pin down but familiar to many people who grew up straddling cultural lines.
Regardless, if Yaeji thought she could hide anything by singing in Korean, she may have miscalculated. I didn’t ever imagine that Korean people would listen to this in Korea!” she says, with genuine surprise. But now, Yaeji is taking off on a global scale.
Having wrapped up a sweeping summer tour, electronic experimental artist Yaeji is embarking on a run of fall tour dates. The Korean American artist, Kathy Yaeji Lee, is building a rapidly growing following for music that dives head first into themes of Korean identity, the value of therapy, and artistic creation.
That’s something that I’ve thought about in my work and my life, but haven’t been able to verbally process and explain. Sonically I have a lot of different interests. Growing up I didn’t have a real life community where I would share bands and artists with friends. I was always kind of on my own because in America I could listen to Britney and stuff, but then moving to Korea, all the western pop or mainstream music that was coming over to Korea was a few years delayed, because it was kind of like pre-internet, and I wasn’t able to connect with K-pop. So I ended up listening to songs that no one else listened to. When I started taking music more seriously, that’s when I realized that my taste in music is sonically and aesthetically in-between, but I love all the in-betweens of everything.
Childhood and adolescence saw her bunny-hopping through NY borough Queens, Atlanta, and Korea, but the artist found her home in Brooklyn’s thriving creative scene. There, she’s well-known for nights that serve Japanese curry to dancers alongside the melodic, soul-hugging dance music.
She concluded the performance with another one of her most-loved releases, raingurl,encouraging the crowd to ramp up their energy one last time. This town most definitely needed a performance from the sensational Yaeji last night.
Ever one to bump members of her musical community, she name checks a few local institutions. Cakeshop, an iconic and influential club, and Contra, its new sister venue, both showcase artists and sounds on the cutting edge; Clique Records, according to Yaeji, is the record store for dance music in Seoul; and Seoul Community Radio, a platform for the burgeoning underground music community that offers great sounds from a wide range of genres. With strong roots in place, there are exciting possibilities on the horizon.
Some of these musician friends crop up in the video for her goofy, glitchy house track Raingurl. The video, which is lit like a Nicolas Winding Refn film, is an ode to Brooklyn’s underground rave scene. When the sweaty walls are banging,” she sings in her usual hushed tone as she dances in a transparent raincoat, I don’t fuck with family planning.” The song, she says, conveys my awkwardness, but at the same time it’s me not caring about what other people think, and not caring about my future.” All she’s thinking about, she says, is dancing really hard”.
After the closer, she stands in front of the crowd and gives a speech. Softly spoken, her comments (I love seeing you guys dance, because dance music is where I’m from”) feel genuinely grateful — she promises to come back soon, and then she does immediately with one of her few unplayed tracks, a bubbling remix of Charli XCX’s ‘Focus’.
In Korean I’m a bit more nuanced and sexy I think, more metaphorical and contemplative. When I sing in English, sometimes I think it sounds tacky or I’m embarrassed, because when I try to say straightforward things it just doesn’t feel right, versus in Korean I can do that freely. It’s almost like I have another persona.
During her sophomore year, she joined Carnegie Mellon’s radio station WRCT (88.3 FM, for those of you who should ever find yourself in the Pittsburgh area). This might constitute the most pivotal moment in Yaeji’s musical career: WRCT introduced her to the electronic underground. While the scene in Pittsburgh isn’t exactly what you’d call thriving, Yaeji found a small, tight-knit community that enabled her to develop her taste and her talent, from early days of DJing on Ableton to eventually producing her own tracks.
Oddly, you don’t always get that sense from her music. Despite her steadfast commitment to the relationships in her life – perhaps because of it – her music can focus on isolation and the sense of being trapped in one’s head. ‘Noonside’ explores the experience of crossing through customs between Korea and the United States, taking you to a liminal non-state. ‘New York 93′ contrasts the grounding of its title in time and place with the inaccessibility of memory and home.
This was the anime to watch in my middle school in Korea. One Piece generated lunchtime conversations and friendships and took me away from the real world. The anime, and the manga from which it’s adapted, takes place in this fabricated world where pirates travel in search of treasure, money, and fame. I recently discovered that there are now over eight hundred episodes, and that it’s been running for almost twenty years (!!). I’m genuinely excited that we can age together.
Clockeflap Presents x Collective Minds is delighted to announce that NY-based singer, producer and DJ – Yaeji – will make her Hong Kong debut with us at TTN on July 23. Yaeji’s music is an invitation into an intimate, healing, world exploring cultural identity and self-reflection through dreamlike house productions that morph from whispery confessionals to dancefloor burners, and makes quite simply for a party unlike no other.
The memory is an early example of a connection Yaeji forged with a community that had its own unique musical identity. Still, music wasn’t her primary interest yet. In her early years, she thought she would become a visual artist and trained accordingly, eventually enrolling in the Fine Arts program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Though she started out painting, she gradually became more interested in conceptual art. Yaeji considers Pittsburgh to be one of the first places where she could settle in. Four years was a comparatively long time for her to be in one place.
Inclusion of women and non-binary people of color. I see so many people around me who are talented and beautiful but not being recognized for it. Growing up in America, I didn’t realize the bigger issue and always believed everything was my fault. I also kept a lot of it to myself.
Yaeji’s music is an invitation into an intimate, healing, world exploring cultural identity and self-reflection through dreamlike house productions that morph from whispery confessionals to dancefloor burners.
New York-based Korean-American singer, producer and DJ Yaeji will be making her debut in Hong Kong this July. Known for her mixture of house and hip-hop style with her mellow vocals, Yaeji has successfully cultivated her own voice in the international dance scene. With hits such as Drink I’m Sippin On and Raingurl, be sure to catch some of her soft yet dynamic beats this summer.
Our last show in Asia was Seoul, in Korea. My whole family was there, my grandparents were sitting side stage with The Queens who were performing for a few songs, side by side. Really crazy worlds clashing, but also so harmonious at the same time. Just tears of joy, I could not stop crying at the end of the set because I was so happy, and I was talking to everyone in Korean, and I’ve never got to do that. That was mind blowing. Like Wow I can talk to you in this language I talk and dream and sing in sometimes.” This is a side of me I don’t get to let out as much, only in my music, and that happens in a studio and I’m alone. And otherwise with family when I’m on the phone. I feel really happy right now coming back from that experience.
The closer two names are, the greater the probability people will like both artists. Without a stable local social group, Yaeji turned, like so many of her generation, to the Internet. It comes at no surprise that this led to one of her first encounters with music.
This year I’m taking it easy—I’m going to devote a lot of my time and energy to writing. I have stuff that sounds like a continuation of One More and EP2, but at the same time, I have a lot of things that are more emotion-based, not as highly produced but really emotionally connecting music. I am also planning an event for the local Brooklyn community that’ll happen late summer, but nothing’s concrete yet. I’m trying to stay rooted in this community that really feels me, and also understand ways that I can give back.