23-year-old Yasmin Shahmir already made a huge name for herself in 2011. Respected on the underground music scene as one of the UK’s foremost DJ’s and a talented singer/songwriter...2012 looks set for bigger and brighter things.
Gigwise caught up with this rising star to talk about her plans for 2012 and future collaborations.
Your new single 'Light Up The World' is out on Sunday, how would you describe it?
It's fun and uplifting. It's got that great reggae/breakbeat mixture. It's a track to put you in a good mood and gets you wanting to party.
How did you come to collaborate with Shy FX and Ms Dynamite on the track?
I met Shy FX when I was DJing – I've been a DJ since I was about 17 and that kind of came first for me. I told him I was a big fan. I loved a lot of his early work; all the jungle stuff throughout the '90s.
Before I got signed, I didn't really have anyone calling the shots for me. So I called Shy and we went in the studio and made my first single 'On My Own.' His production style is something that I love. I don't have to say much to to him, he just knows exactly what to do. With 'Light Up The World,' I'd had a lot of sessions that hadn't really resulted in much and I was quite frustrated. So I went in with Shy and I said that I wanted to have some fun with the track. That was one thing that I hadn't done; everything was always about pressure, so we just fun with it and after we made it, we felt like it could do with an extra something, so we called up Ms Dynamite who loved the song and was happy to jump on it.
Has DJing given you a different appreciation of music?
Definitely. I have so much music in my mind that I've heard over the years and it gives me so much inspiration as well as things to reference. It's definitely given me a greater understanding of music and a greater respect.
Do you collect records or is it digital stuff that you play out?
I came in on the cusp of the digital era and started on CDs, but I felt I wasn't a real DJ unless I was using a turntable, so I bought some when I could finally afford them. I only had a couple of records – just stuff people were throwing away, like garage vinyl – and I learnt to mix like that.
In terms of the obsessiveness or even geekiness that comes from record collecting and DJing, do you think that it has given you an edge by making you aware of different types of music?
I think so. It's a gift and a curse because I've got all this music in my head that I can take inspiration from, but I've also got so much to compare my music to. It definitely gives me an edge; it's what makes me different but that wasn't necessarily on purpose. A lot of musicians or celebrities get asked to DJ, but they can't really to do it. I get the chance to do some great gigs off the back of my music and I can actually spin, so it's good.
Have you got a preference between DJing in clubs and being alone writing songs?
They're two very different experiences. It's like saying: 'Would you rather eat or would you rather breathe?'
Is one more rewarding than the other?
The buzz is different but the feeling is quite similar. When you write a song and people connect with it, it's a warm, fuzzy feeling but when you're DJing in a smaller venue and everyone goes crazy, you feel that connection again.
You worked with Jamie XX recently, can you tell me what you were working on?
He's someone that I was a big fan of. I had some people make some calls and we got in the studio for three days and made three songs. They're quite to different to what I've done before, but I really like them and I really want to get them out one way or another.
He's just a crazily talented person. He's very quiet but he's got this style. If you asked him to pick out ten tracks there would be a theme, but the only way to describe that theme would be as Jamie XX's theme. It's really interesting and it's not really that structured – it's free flowing.
Is there anyone who you'd like to collaborate with in the future?
I'd love to work with SBTRKT. His album was my favourite album of last year. It had the right mixture of fantastic songs and fantastic production. It was really new and fresh but it still felt familiar – and I think that's what I try and strive for.
What else is in store for you in 2012?
More shows. The single comes out on Sunday. I'm giving everyone more music; I did an acoustic session recently that I just dropped one of the videos from – which was a cover of Frank Ocean's 'American Wedding.' There's also another cover and two original tracks that people haven't heard before, so I can't wait for those to come out. The album's on its way to completion and I'm really looking forward to getting out on the road.
What kind of things can we expect from the album?
I'm working with the some great producers, so I've got some great beats on there. People have said my three singles have been quite different, but they're all very similar in the aspect of the old school breaks, the reverb and very spacious, very '90s influence. There's a lot of reggae influence on the album. There's a taster of it on 'Light Up The World' and I've got a couple more tracks with that kind of vibe.
Lyrically, it's very honest. A lot of my journey has been quite independent. When I was a DJ, it was a very lonely existence. You're going off to parties but everything apart from that is completely isolated. There's been a lot of self-discovery and the album is kind of a tale about that. I want it to inspire other people to be brave and be able to go out on their own, and I also want it to connect with the people that are already doing that. I listen to music to comfort me, no matter what mood I'm in and that's what I hope I can do.