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Interview: Yeo

Yeo Got No Game Press

A new single, a music video, and a tour in the works – electro-pop producer Yeo just keeps getting busier. The Melbournian prodigy took some time out of his packed schedule to chat about Got No Game, his self-directed music video, and the beauty of imperfections.

Congratulations on your new single Got No Game! What was the inspiration behind the track?

Thanks! I was actually having a really tough time because I made all these mistakes and was a bit rude and hurtful to people near me, to people who were being hurtful to me, and I was just in a bad place. My manager…because we’re good friends, I was complaining to her about it, and she was like, “You need to go to your shed and write songs about all this bad stuff that’s happened.” I was sort of like, “Yeah, sure, as if it’s that easy” and then I went into the shed and I came out with that track.

That shed must be a really productive place for you! When you’re making new music, what does your process involve?

I’m kind of doing it all the time…I mean, I think about things like feelings – obviously everyone gets feelings. Sometimes I’ll be getting these feelings and I’m nowhere near an instrument or anything, so I just write the feeling down or some nice words that can describe that feeling. That’s the lyric side of it, that’s one place where the seed gets sown, and the other place is when I have time at home and I’m just playing around on my computer with sound and my keyboard out and my guitar out, writing progression. It’s pretty loose and it does change all the time. Sometimes the music comes first and then the words, the vocals – those ideas come afterwards. Sometimes it’s the other way around – I make the vocals, and then I make the music underneath it to match it.

You do have plenty of layers in your tracks – how long does it usually take to arrange a song?

It’s starting to take longer and longer because I’m being more picky with things, but in the world of music producers I still consider myself one of the faster and more decisive ones out there. I’m actually willing to live with incorrect choices I make. Some artists like to deliberate over the same thing for way longer than I do. I still consider [the way I do it to take] a long time, but I feel like nothing moves if you’re always just going over the same 30-second section over and over again.


So yeah, Got No Game was done in a weekend, easy, but the other songs have taken longer. Girl, probably took…for a simple song, very surprisingly, I finished the first draft in a weekend, but I didn’t really call it finished until six or eight months after I started it.

How do you know when it’s finished?

I think I give myself some space from it – you know, it could be a couple of weeks, it could be a day or two – and then I just put it on really loud, and if there’s nothing jumping out that’s annoying me, that’s it.

So if it’s not bad, it’s good?

Well, yeah, and it’s that whole [idea] of “don’t fix what’s not broken”. I think there were something like 70 versions of Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, and I would never let it get that far. Once it gets past version five I start to go crazy, so yeah, I try not to reinvent things too much or deliberate about whether this tiny part in the song is going to make a difference. I think a song is a song.

There are thousands of other electronic artists making music now, so what’s your secret to creating a distinctive sound?

Ooh, that’s a tough one. I guess I leave a lot of rough edges in my music that other producers would probably try to clean up. I like to push the boundaries a bit when it comes to that – see what will be accepted as music by the general public. I think there’s also a kind of dirt, a grunginess to my sound, a kind of lo-fi…I like to see that as the more artistic side of what I do in that imperfection is cool in my eyes and my ears, so I try to bring that to the table.

I think that’s pretty cool. You performed Japanese Wallpaper’s Forces for Like A Version, what made you decide to cover that song?

Well, we had to choose something that was relevant to triple j’s audience, and it just so happened that Gab Strum [Japanese Wallpaper] and Hannah Sheppard from Airling, they’re the two writers on that song and they’re both friends of mine, so I thought it would be cool to give them a little boost. That song also did really well in the Hottest 100 in recent years, so I thought it would be relevant to the listeners, and hey, it worked! We got tonnes of feedback about that. So nerve-wracking, we just weren’t sure about anything, [but] we’re very relieved that it’s done and we did okay.

It turned out really well! Aside from that, you’re also releasing a self-directed music video for Got No Game, how has that production process been?

Yeah, that’s coming out today! We found a green screen studio that we could use and just got three mates of mine to come in and do some pretty casual dancing in front of the green screen, and then I spent probably a few more days constructing the background that would sit behind them while they were dancing. It turns out that it’s handy because we can use the same graphics at our live show for our visual projection, so it all tied in together neatly, you know?

Since it is self-directed, has it taken longer than the other music videos you’ve released?

Secret Powers was done pretty quickly in comparison to this – that was roughly about…probably a week’s worth of work. The other stuff had higher production value since it wasn’t done by me. The professionals obviously take more care and more time to put it together properly. The other ones probably took about a month to do from start to finish – not solid work all the time, but definitely a lot more than what I would put in. I’m not, like, a director or a videographer, I just have an idea and I’m like, “That’s pretty easy, I can probably do it myself and save some cash.”

That way you get some of those rough edges in there as well, it sounds like a perfect combination.

Yeah, that’s right. The DIY ethic is very strong, it’s just a remnant of my days living in Brisbane, I think.

We work hard in Brisbane.

You definitely do!

You’ve had quite a busy year performance-wise, working hard yourself, playing a few festivals and a national tour. What’s been your favourite performance experience so far?

It’s a pretty big toss-up, actually. It was definitely one of the shows on the “Ganbaru” tour, and the two close ones that have stayed in my mind are Brisbane – we played at the Foundry…that was the first show of the tour for me that was like, “Yes, we’re doing the right thing!” It was a fantastic venue to begin with, but everybody got into it there. It was a big crowd, everyone wanted to have a chat afterwards, and that doesn’t always happen, so it was a really good vibe, and we performed relatively well too.

That’s always a bonus.

Yeah (laughs) and then we finished the show at a venue in Melbourne called Howler…all the family [came] down, close friends and stuff, and it was kind of the first official time I’ve ever sold out an event, so the energy was extremely high. We had a bunch of exclusive guests in Melbourne performing with us. It was a pretty good gig. Yeah, those two are competing for the top spot of “gig of the year” for me.

Your “Got No Game” tour might knock them off the top! What are you most looking forward to about those upcoming shows?

We’re playing to audiences for the first time after Like A Version, so ticket sales are doing better than last time even though we’re only doing three shows, and I’m just excited to get on the road with the team again because that’s the fun part. It’s good being surrounded by good friends who work hard. I feel like any downtime we have, we’re always planning for the next time we can hit the road again. We’re playing the Corner here in Melbourne and that’s the biggest headline gig we will have put on ourselves, so that will be interesting.

Check out Yeo’s Got No Game music video below, and nab yourself a ticket to his upcoming East Coast tour!

Yeo “Got No Game” Tour

Newtown Social Club, Sydney
The Corner, Melbourne
The Foundry, Brisbane

Get Tickets HERE

Yeo Got No Game

Written by Jess Martyn