This mixtape will hypnotize you into a cosmic trance.
The mysticism of psychedelic music lies in how it takes the listener on an intergalactic trip. Born out of the hippie era in the sixties, this genre has grown to encompass numerous sub-categories. In this mixtape, we discover the diverse and multicultural branches that make up this extraterrestrial sound.
YĪN YĪN is a psychedelic disco and funk band from the Netherlands that thinks outside of the box in their instrumentation and production. The funky quartet was formed through their passionate conversations in the depths of the indie underground scene in Maastricht. In 2019, they released their debut EP, The Rabbit that Hunts Tigers, a tapestry of colorful and global sounds darting between the genres of disco, South-Asian funk, and electronic music. Their music is a melting pot of genres and sounds from around the world. Akin to their last project, The Age of Aquarius, is an eccentric and groovy album that further pushes the boundary of conventionality through its psychedelic composition—alluding to a spiritual reawakening.
For Mixtape #181, YĪN YĪN curated a collection of tracks from friends and artists with whom they have shared stages and ones they have been vibing to while on tour. The playlist is a mix of tracks from diverse genres, including new-wave, post-punk, disco, and psychedelic. We spoke with Kees and Remy from the band.
How did YĪN YĪN form together as a band?
We all live in Maastricht, a cute small pretty city in the South of the Netherlands. The Indie-scene is tiny, and there are basically two bars and two squats that are not shit, so we got to know each other in the limited nightlife options the city had to offer. When our first cassette tape dropped, we got more and more shows, and together we started to shape our live show.
Your music is influenced by South-East Asian culture. What drew you to incorporate these sounds from a culture outside your own?
As music collectors and fanatics, we’re always searching for new sounds and styles. After the big seventies afrobeat revival, we discovered Thai funk from the seventies that inspired us. Apart from incorporating some vibes from Thailand, there is also a big portion of psychedelic, funk, indie, disco, and afrobeat present.
From its spontaneous melodies to its rhythm, the psychedelic nature of your music invokes a mystical trance. When it comes to experimentation with your music, how do you approach this process?
For us, a state of trance in music is induced by melodies & rhythm. The essence lies within the repetition of these aspects. We repeatedly play the same loop and riff over it like a mantra. This is what we think induces this state of mind; however, these repetitions are played more and more intensely every time. During the climax of a live show, this mystical trance, as you phrased so beautifully, turns into a hallucination of a dragon mixing your favorite cocktail.
Your music, possessing elements of disco and funk, instills a groove. What does dancing mean to you?
Dancing is very ancient; it’s just very absurd that acoustic waves propagate through the air, hit your eardrums, and then you start to move on its tempo. Dancing is a result of the incredible impact music can have. It’s a form of expression that requires a certain vulnerability. When we get this energy from the audience, it’s just an extra boost for us, and we also start to express ourselves more. This, in turn, creates a positive feedback loop. On the other hand, dancing is not a requirement or a must to enjoy our show and music.
Your recent album, Age of Aquarius, alludes to an astrological age of renewal. Your tracklist further reinforces this, which references the cosmic ages from Hinduism. Could you explain to us the inspiration behind this album?
Corona had a big impact on us because our daily life and possibilities quickly changed. Also, things were changing in the band, musically and personally. So the theme of an age introducing itself or ending felt suitable to implement in the album.
Music has a way of creating fantastical sonic landscapes. How is music magical to you?
Hearing is very three-dimensional. It’s really cool because music is a result of evolution; we work together and synthesize sound with instruments and effects. So theoretically, we are tricking our brains and pulling our minds into a completely alternate universe. It is magical because you can’t see it, but you can imagine and feel it. These images and feelings are also completely personal.
Unity as a band on stage is important when it comes to live performances. How do you all get together in preparation for your gigs?
Five emotional people in one room is quite an interesting mix, so band rehearsals are not our strongest asset. But it is important to know your songs, so we definitely rehearse and practice by ourselves or make demos together. We appreciate fans that take the time and effort to come to the show, so we like giving them a blast! For our next tour, we want to give our audience a new and improved experience. After playing these sets on our previous tour, we understood each venue’s weak spots. We want to create some new ideas to incorporate into our performance.
“Dancing is very ancient, it’s just very absurd that acoustic waves propagate through the air, hit your eardrums and then you start to move on its tempo.”
What would you like to achieve as a band within the next few years?
We have quite some ambitions for the future. Currently, we’re building a sound studio in our attic, where we will record our next album. A new album means a new live show. Also, we dream of touring Asia and the USA.
Do you have a song or album that you all like to listen to together?
Being on the road a lot, we listen to a lot of music while driving. But it’s hard to find music that speaks to all four of us. So thank the lord for noise canceling headphones. The only thing that works every time is ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Kate Bush. When it’s late at night, and we have had some drinks, the inevitable result is all of us screaming along with Kate.
Any tips on how to expand your music collection?
Spending a rainy day in a record store and trying out new stuff is something we all like to do. A great way of discovering new artists is via Instagram. You can see what they are listening to by following artists you like—it’s easier than ever to share playlists and releases.
Finally, how did you select the tracks for this mixtape?
This mixtape is a collection of songs we have been playing on the tour bus for the last couple of weeks and features many lovely artists we met at festivals and shared the stage with this year. So big up for everybody in this playlist, and kisses from YĪN YĪN!
YĪN YĪN is a four-piece band based in Maastricht consisting of Kees Berkers, Remy Scheren, Robbert Verwijlen, and Erik Bandt. Their music is rooted within the instrumental realm of psychedelic disco and funk. Sound experimentation is at the core of their practice. The result is a mélange of international and trancelike music inspired by sounds from the past and present. Their recent album, The Age of Aquarius, was released this year and aims to take the listener on a spiritual journey. YĪN YĪN are on their European Tour. Head over to the link to catch them live!
You can also follow YĪN YĪN to keep updated with new releases, events, and performances.
Images: Siem Akkerman
Interview and Text: Isabelle Moulding