When we talk about the new wave DJs who’ve been taking the UK by storm, Yazzus dominates the conversation. The Londoner’s bombastic rave sound is a cyclone of knockout techno kicks, dreamy footwork jungle and breakbeat hardcore mayhem, slapped with neon go-faster stripes and astrological nods. It all hints towards the transcendental side of raving, with a joyful silliness at its heart. As she puts it: “You can have a spiritual awakening, but laugh about it.”
As a DJ, Yazzus’ star has been rising for the past half a decade. Originally a grime kid, she found a new passion for ’90s hardcore music while at university; she studied rave subcultures for her dissertation. “The rave scene promoted peace, love, unity and respect, so you know they’re nice people,” she says, “it’s generally a wholesome subculture.”
The past couple of years have seen her rise up as a producer too — even scooping a Breakthrough Producer nomination at DJ Mag’s 2020 Best of British awards. Almost two years ago to the day of this feature, she shared her first forays into production, turning heads with a pack of bootlegged DEEP MEDi MUSIK tracks — switching up dubstep classics into full-throttle footwork jungle. More hyperactive anthems followed in ‘Experience 5D’ and her ‘Voltagem’ EP, drawing on a wide range of dancefloor influences and decorating them with the splashes of pink and green that have become part of her whole rave aesthetic.
As her DJing schedule got busier and busier, bolstered by her UK tour as part of supergroup 6 Figure Gang alongside Jossy Mitsu, SHERELLE, LCY, Fauzia and Dobbs, so too did the demand for her productions. Heading into 2020 all guns blazing, Yazzus popped up on Hospital Records’ annual ‘Sick Music’ compilation and dropped a solo EP for Diplo’s Mad Decent label, while the Rave Litany party she co-runs was steaming ahead with whopping great line-ups at London nightclub The Cause.
Of course, we all know what happened next for clubbing. However, for someone who’s so outspoken about her love affair with raving, Yazzus is surprisingly chipper about the year that never was. “Obviously it has been really weird, but I’m just trying to take things to my advantage,” she says when we ask how she coped with 2020. “Whatever situation you find yourself in, it’s not about the event, it’s about how you process it and how you deal with it. So for me last year, obviously the DJing side was super quiet, but it just made me focus more on production.”
The evidence of that is plain to see. Utilising several Bandcamp Fridays — the ongoing monthly event when the music marketplace waives their fees, giving artists a chance to make some much-needed extra money — Yazzus let loose a flurry of bootleg productions. In May she dropped ‘It’s Ya Girl’s Bootlegs’ — a whopping 30-track compilation of edits, about half of which were made in the week leading up to the release. “When I’m in the zone, I’m IN the zone,” says Yazzus, explaining that she works better with the pressure of a deadline. Another compilation — this time remixing music from her favourite anime shows — followed shortly after, and she rounded off the year with a celebratory EP reworking some of the women who’d dominated 2020, like Megan Thee Stallion.
Has Yazzus managed to bring back that lost spiritual rave feeling by making her own music? She says she has, somewhat — especially when vibing out in her room at night, surrounded by fairy lights and rave artwork. More than anything though, the production process seems to bolster Yazzus’ confidence in herself. While some artists complain of getting tired of listening to their own tracks, she’s the first to admit how much she enjoys her music. “I’m a really cocky producer, I love every song I make. I’m literally like, ‘You did it again! You smashed it out the park, congrats!’,” she says through infectious laughter. “I’ve wanted to be a producer since I was a child and I never thought I could do it, and now that I’m doing it I just feel really blessed,” she explains. “So every song, I’m amazed — I’m so happy.”
And so she should be. Though her first forays displayed raw talent, tracing the progress of her releases over the past two years shows a clear evolution, resulting in the hybrid rave sound of the Yazzus we know today. “When I made the DEEP MEDi pack, I honestly didn’t put in as much effort as people think,” she says. “Now I’m definitely paying more attention to different percussion and different sections — everyone always says that my tracks are like three different songs in one and I’m just playing up on that more.”
Along the way she’s dabbled in different areas: ‘Dreamwalker’ for Worst Behavior went full cosmic footwork, while the remix of NARA’s ‘Daddy I Want A Pony’ for SZNS7N was unforgiving hard techno, brought on by a year locked down with techno obsessive flatmate and DJ, Nakamo. And you can probably guess which often maligned microscene she celebrated on ‘All I Want For My Birthday Is 26 Donks’. “I think after countless experiments, like ‘OK, let’s make a rave track, let’s make a jungle track, let’s make a techno track’, now I think I’ve got my style — and I’d say it is a combination of techno, rave and jungle.”
This month sees Yazzus slow the pace (slightly), with an EP of 140-150bpm breakbeat techno thumpers for Aussie label Steel City Dance Discs, which she produced during the summer last year. While at the lower end of her tempo spectrum, the release is no less raucous than usual, delivering high-octane action that begs for a packed-out warehouse; from the sneering hoover intro of ‘Sleazy’ to the rebellious synth blasts of closing track ‘Beef Lo Mein’ (a subtle reference to Black Lives Matter).
There are more releases in the pipeline with some respected labels, and some surprising remixes on the way too — all strictly off the record, so keep your eyes peeled! In the future, she’d like to integrate the visual side of her creativity more (having studied 3-D design she produces much of her own artwork), but for now, the most pressing plan is a move to Berlin in the summer. An unexpected benefit of the lack of parties has been saving money, and a combination of the vibrant Berlin music scene and the depressing reality of Tory Britain has prompted the lifelong Londoner to up sticks. “I think it’s the right time to just branch out. After Berlin I wanna do Tokyo, I wanna just go round the world as much as I can,” she says. “Who knows, maybe I’ll be the next Berlin techno princess!”
Darq E Freaker - Butterscotch
Rustie - Response
Detroit’s Filthiest - I’m A Pro
DJ Frankie - Mode Rave
SHYGIRL- Tasty (LSDXOXO remix)
Yazzus - ???
Booty Buster - Bounce Dat
Keepsakes - Oblivious Civics
badsista - PRA TE SEDUZIR (TRANCE MIX)
JAKAZiD- Be With U (Machine Girl Remix)
Bored Lord - Euphoria II the Moon
Yazzus - Gas Money
Marcus L - Kimchi Slap (ft. Kill.gone)
Decent Damage - Put It Down
Jacidorex - Rotterdam Amsterdam
Charli XCX - Vroom Vroom (DJ FINGERBLAST Remix)
SOPHIE - UNISIL
badsista - SORRY DAD
Tygapaw - So It Go
Yazzus - ???
Yazzus - G-Wag ’63
YTP - DROP IT
SOPHIE - HARD (Supraman’s Happy Hardcore Remix)
DJ Force & The Evolution - Perfect Dreams (DJ Vibes & Wishdokta Remix)