Tell us about the background of "Yuki-San."
When I was growing up, my uncle married a Japanese woman and I spent a lot of time with their children. What that meant for me growing up was that I became heavily immersed the culture and it really had a lasting impact on me. For example, our Thanksgiving menu included sushi and other traditional Japanese food items.
Around this time, I also started getting into media through studying animation then eventually film studies and media production as well. While I was in school, around the age of sixteen, I started scoring my own films. The reason behind this was that we weren't allowed to use anyone else's music so I saw this as the only way to get a soundtrack for my movies. What I ended up doing was getting these jailbroken iPhone applications and jerryrigging it to display on my desktop. It was a pretty janky solution but it got the job done. After I graduated high school, I decided to start making my own beats under the Yuki-San name and post them on SoundCloud, which was relatively new at the time. The craziest thing was that the first track got picked up by Buzzfeed back when they were making their basic content. It was like this trap beat over some classical instrumentals and it was used in the background to one of their videos.
At the time, it was just this sort of side project and then over time, it became more of a priority to me so I started chiseling away at this vision for the project; I wanted it to become less about me and more about this character I was creating. A lot of inspiration for this character came from traditional Noh culture and Kabuki Japanese theater culture.
I recently cleared house so there's not a lot of my music out currently because I wanted to chisel down my discography. Back in April, I released a chill, tropical remix of BAYNKl and just the other day I released a bass house remix of Anti-up's "Pizza." Going forward, I want to put out things that fit the brand. I have this sort Rezz, synthwave bass track that is around 105BPM that I'm so stoked to put out there but it's not quite ready yet. I'm also working with KEEPMYSECRETS on a dark R&B EP with acid and industrial influence. I met Cole about five years ago when he was the vocalist for Sleeping Away the Century. He's all tatted up with traditional Japanese markings and is just an extremely amazing guy. We fit really well together and I'm really looking forward to finishing this project and sharing it with you all.
How did you get into live DJing?
I would say that I took a more rebellious approach to life after high school. I decided that college wasn't really the route that I wanted to pursue because I was already financially independent person and transitioning into adulthood. I just knew that there was a lot more out there. So I moved to Charleston, South Carolina and I had some film buddies there that had residencies at some of the night clubs downtown. I started going out and they showed me how to DJ, read a crowd, and transition properly.
Tell us more about your clothing line.
I've always had this love for fashion, like back in the day, I used to go to thrift stores and pick out unique pieces of clothing. Then I would take them back home and make modifications and alterations to make it a truly one-of-a-kind piece. I really just like the idea of having my own thing. With the music I was creating, I thought it would also be good to have a visual aspect to go along with it. What better way to do that than to create an experience and lifestyle around the sounds I was making? I decided to pull the trigger on this idea when I got my first out of state booking in Charlotte, North Carolina. At the time, I was only able to afford ten shirts so that's what I ordered and brought with me up north. I think I only sold like three of them at the event, but I still get pictures of those guys wearing my shirt to this day! Fast forward to now and we just finished up our first season of official merchandise of about two-hundred pieces, and they just about sold out in three days.
How else do you build your brand?
It revolves a lot around social media, networking, and branding. I took the time to learn how to make my own graphics because now, I can execute my vision without having to wait on a third party. I'll use those graphics to create social media posts and advertisements for Facebook. It took me some time to get to the point where I was willing to put down the money for ads, but I've really been able to see the results from it. It takes money to get places and for me, I've been able to get exposure in markets I haven't been to yet like Los Angeles and New York. However, I actually just got back from New York from my debut performance at Spectra NYC. It's definitely worth investing the time and money into social media to get as many opportunities as possible.
How was your experience at Imagine Festival this year?
I absolutely love how people come together at festivals and step into this whole new world where they can explore their darker or lighter sides through music. On the one hand you have guys like Riot Ten and Bassnectar tearing up the stages with bass but then you have Alesso and Armin Van Buuren providing these truly euphoric anthems for people to get lost in. I also decided to camp out with everyone in VIP where I set up a sound camp called Camp Kabuki. We had some amazing talent and friends come through and bless the decks. It was a great way to end each day. I also personally wanted to thank Imagine Festival for being the first festival to give me a chance a few years ago. It's been great to build with them and get to know their team. It's a defining moment when someone or a group with opportunity and status gives another opportunity to someone they feel has the potential to grow. Thank you so much for betting on me, I'm here for it all.
Thank you to Yuki-San for taking the time to sit down with us and answer our questions! Be sure to follow him on social media for all of his latest music and announcements! A special thank you to Cassie and Imagine Festival for making this interview possible!
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