Oliver Yorke: Universal D&B
… there is a total absence of light in the shadows, unlike on the earth, it’s almost like it’s this opaque black soup that swallows everything up…
It’s instantly clear that Oliver Yorke works as he thinks: diligent, involved and wide-ranging, culminating in the entwining magic at the heart of the new ep, Into The Void. Fans of the type of D&B much loved & repped by Doc Scott, Flight and by Mauoq will be no stranger to the textures, nuances and atmospheres prevalent in Oliver’s work… and for certain: if you love D&B around the notch that some boundaries really started to disintegrate – think Instra:mental and dBridge around ’08 and ’09 – then you’re in the right place, as Oliver sets the controls…
The ep is wicked, so energetic and full of a certain TYPE of energy I feel: some brand spanking new vibes, some lovely reminiscences of the past too… tell me how you approached Into The Void?
Thanks, that’s very kind! I guess initially it was more about the way I was writing music in general, and creating tracks individually at the time: I wanted to create tunes that had a bit more depth and a greater sense of narrative, moving slightly away from the disposability of typical ‘dancefloor’ tracks.
I wanted the tunes to have a story to tell, and I got really inspired by some interviews and talks I’d been listening to.
It was only when I took a step back and realised I’d written a few tracks that had this similar thread running through them that a selection of them coalesced into an EP.
Can I ask about that wicked title? Into The Void. It’s sort of sci fi, sort of Black Sabbath-y… as in trippy, monumental and forboding. Where did it come from?
It’s meant to be ambiguous – two of the tracks are to do with astronomy and I’d been doing a lot of thinking about black holes, space walks, multiverse theory etc so the title definitely has plenty of resonance there and is connected to the title track’s story below; but also I think I’d been listening to early bits of Darkestral stuff, old Instra, that kinda thing, and realised there was a certain feeling or mood in tunes that I was looking for in current stuff but couldn’t really find… like it was missing. So I guess this is some sort of attempt to fill that gap.
The title could also be a metaphor for simply ‘going into the unknown’ which felt right for the title of a slightly more experimental project!
And the title tune? Phenomenal.
The story behind this track is in the voice sample really. It’s from an interview with an American astronaut who was stationed on the Russian space station Mir in the eighties. He’s talking about having a somewhat terrifying experience of almost indescribable beauty: at the end of a spacewalk outside the space station, he and his Russian cosmonaut colleague had some time to kill, so upon the Russian’s advice he connected his tether – the safety rope that connects them to the station and stops them drifting off – to his back.
Then he pushed off from the space station and floated out into space, drifting out to the full length of the tether attached at his back. The space station and earth behind are is no longer in view, and the sun is behind the earth so it’s dark, and so suddenly all he can see – as just this little isolated human floating all warm and comfortable at the end of a rope – is the empty reaches of space in front of him and billions and billions of stars.
Had to write a bit of music about that.
So I guess the track is about him and his experience of this view, this mind-blowing, perspective-giving, incredible view, that hardly any people will ever see in that way.
Can you take us through ‘On Your Mind’? I want to be in the club where this is playing!
It sounds great in the club! A more emotional one I guess. Again I think I was looking for a certain mood, that kind of deep melancholy like you find in some of those old Teebee tracks from the Through The Eyes of A Scorpion days.
Also, when R&B vocals are pitched like that I always feel like it gives it a kind of pensive, reflective, almost sad quality that I think works well for deeper stuff.
I’m also hyped about this because the guys at Vandal have made a music video for it – they all worked super hard so I’m flattered.
You’ve been delivering constantly: would you say you have changed as an artist since we last spoke?
Yes and no I guess.
I’ve learnt a lot since then because every day, as for everyone, you learn something new – we’re all trying to hone our craft as much as possible. My tastes haven’t changed particularly but I’ve really enjoyed this excursion into deeper territory.
What are the ‘Celestial Shadows’ of the same tune? I get Hubble-esque images. Hubble figures a lot with me right now, it’s like it’s shown creation to be one big oil-based, ’60s psychedelic outburst or something… all gloopy and liquid.
That’s great! Yeah that’s the other astronomy-inspired tune – this is from another interview with an astronaut talking about the interplay of light and dark when you’re in orbit – if you’re in sunlight up there, but you put your hand into the shadow cast by something, you wouldn’t be able to see your hand at all – there is a total absence of light in the shadows, unlike on the earth, it’s almost like it’s this opaque black soup that swallows everything up.
I find that kind of terrifying and you can find that light/dark relationship within music, which is why it’s the moodiest tune of the EP.
What sort of outlets are there for your type of D&B, where people can delve a bit deeper? Radio for example.Is it still around?
Doc Scott says you just need to look harder to find interesting and inspiring stuff.
His Future Beats show is the perfect example of that, and I’ve been a loyal listener since it’s inception – I felt very privileged that he played one of the tracks on the show last year. In terms of other places to check music, it varies so much; anything from tangential journeying through Soundcloud and hypem.com, to gigs… to just mates recommending stuff!
I think of films and film soundtracks when I listen to you, any recommends or recent viewings?
I saw an indie film called Coherence recently which I loved, great simple idea for a story, born out of quantum parallel universe stuff.
I’ve also been going over old Hitchcock movies, some of those are so perfectly put together – Psycho, North by Northwest, The Birds… all brilliant, and even better because of Saul Bass designing the titles. Of all time there would also be Pi, Cloud Atlas, Soylent Green, Bullitt and more.
What sort of film soundtracks do you like?
Impossible to pick just one. I think Elysium has an incredible soundtrack, also saw a film recently called The Guest which has a great John Carpenter-esque score. Bit obvious but I still love what Hans Zimmer did for Gladiator, and more recently Interstellar, the one David Holmes did for Out of Sight, and generally anything by Ennio Morricone, Angelo Badalamenti and early Lalo Schifrin.
Yes, big shouts to Blocks & Escher, Jason Overlook, Cursa, Thijs Noisia, Redeyes and SKS and all Vandal Crew, my girl Amy, Flight, Silent Dust, Homemade Weapons, and everyone else who’s been supporting me and the EP, thank you.