Yentl is an enigmatic nightcrawler, to say the very least. On the one hand buoyant and exuberant - deep and sweltering on the other. There’s unmistakably two sides of the same medaillon. Walk with us as we lift a small tip of the veil that so carefully caresses Yentl’s endless universe.
︎︎︎ Funke exclusive set
︎︎︎ Spotify Playlist
— Can you tell us a little bit more about how you got into music?
That’s quite a difficult question because I’ve been into music ever since I can remember. As a very young child I was hooked on Dolly Parton and Michael Jackson. I didn’t just “like” their songs with a superficial interest, but really dove into their albums. I remember being very intrigued by the meaning of the songs and music, moreover by the emotions expressed in it. Music always had (and will have) an important connotation of storytelling and channeling emotions, thoughts and brainwaves to me.
I got seriously into electronic music from the young age of 15/16. While mostly going out to drum and bass parties at first, a little later artists like James Holden, Anthony Röther, Booka Shade, Extrawelt, Sven Vath, Chris Liebing and Speedy J lured me over to the minimal, electro, house and techno spectrum of electronic music. Some three years later - I actually remember it as if it were yesterday - during Monika Kruse's set at the yearly Groove City event in Brussels, I thought for the very first time ‘I want to learn how to play records’.
So, I had to arrange the required materials. I was lucky enough that my grandfather, whom I was very fond of and had a great connection with, was always interested in the things I was doing. He helped me out with my very first set-up and mentioned that there were some cast-off pieces of hardware from “Uncle Ronny’s Disc Jockey bar” in the attic. One of those “leftover” pieces was a Technics SL1210 that I still use today.
This was all quite a while ago but it illustrates how I got to be where I’m now. My foundations if you will. Slowly but surely I got sucked into a world I never got out of. Thank the universe for that one. It’s so amazing to continue this non-stop discovering and evolving process,
and I’m positively surprised about many artists these days. Music has been playing a major role during my whole life and I’m grateful and proud to be able to return some of that energy myself through various ways.
“ My very first set-up was composed with cast-off pieces of hardware from “Uncle Ronny’s Disc Jockey bar” in the attic. The Technics I still use today. ”
— What was the first record you ever bought? Would you still play it in a set?
That’s just an impossible question! The thing is: I started spinning vinyl records as a young little halfwit. I was exploring everything and bought all kinds of stuff of that time: minimal, some techno but most of all (pardon my French) shitty electro-house. As a result I have loads of records I wouldn’t ever play again (and I can’t even sell them, cause I think no-one actually would).
Bút every now and then the halfwit got lucky. In the first second hand batch of records I bought, there were two sweet and inspiring records that I would definitely still play today in the right moment and setting. The first one being Ricardo Villalobos’ ‘Achso’ EP on Cadenza; a minimalistic jungle-like tale, a typical Villalobos production that slowly but surely draws you in a state of trance with it’s deep and hypnotic, organic sounds and rhythms. The second one is John Tejada’s ‘Voyager’ on Palette Records. On it you’ll find ‘Sucre’: a real classic, epic underground track (at least for me) that still does the trick today, when played at the right moment; for instance at the end of my b2b allnighter with Godero, a while back in Funke. It turned out to be a real sing-along… “Plus plus, passe passe.“
Slowly but surely I got sucked into a world I never got out of. Thank the universe for that one.
— There's Yentl. and there's Miranda and her wondrous Knetterbar universe. Are these two aliases two sides of the same coin? Or is there a sharp distinction?
Creativity has little to no boundaries. I could say that I try to maintain a clear distinction between both, totally different projects (which are also different art forms in my opinion) but then again, I would be the first one to agree that everything’s connected.
“Yentl.” and “Miranda” are just two totally different kinds of performances, involving totally different content. Although music is very present and important in my creative concepts and performances with Knetterbar, it reflects a very different artistic part of me. In general, it’s a completely different type of creativity. I wouldn’t call my two aliases two sides of the same coin. There’s no coin. There’s at least a Rubik’s cube and most likely an endless universe.
— As a resident in Funke, what are you hoping to achieve? (in terms of lineup, organizing particular events, ...?)
To me, Funke is all about connection and growth. Not in a deliberate or strategic way or anything like that. The club is all about meeting more passionate people from different places and most of all creating memorable moments. I got to know a bunch of young local artists too, which gave me lots of joy and actual hope for the future.
The most interesting form of connection might be found between a dj and the crowd; everybody involved in that particular moment and place. Music is a language that transcends generational or cultural barriers and it can definitely help to bring us closer to each other.
Another thing about Funke is that I’m given the trust to host and play on truly different kinds of nights. My personal musical taste is very broad and Funke allows me to showcase these distinct sides of the palette by putting me on a bunch of very diverse lineups. From more playful and classic house music to deep and dubby techno gigs - I really enjoy that I’m given the chance to flow in very different directions of the realm.
To me, Funke is all about connection and growth.
— If I'm not mistaken, you take care of your own bookings. The last couple of months looked especially bright, with gigs all over our country's finest night clubs & festival shindigs. From C12 over La Nature to Klub Dramatik. How would you explain this Yentl.-mania?
“Mania” is probably an exaggerated word. Nonetheless I definitely feel a lot of appreciation lately and it’s true that the frequency of my presence has been growing. How or why could that be? I’m glad to say that it probably doesn’t have anything to do with my Instagram or marketing skills since I almost completely lack those.
I’m simply under the impression that somehow I seem to be able to reach and touch people by transferring the energy of the music to the dancefloor with a certain strength; bringing it forward in a way that people can really feel it. When we can feel it, we can share it. I’m just sharing music that touches me somehow. That’s the beauty of it. Music means a lot to me so I think people might feel this authentic love for music when I play and that this shapes a gateway for a more meaningful experience on the dancefloor.
— Do you have a specific ritual, going into a night?
When it comes to preparing for a gig, I developed this abstract mental ritual lately.
Basically I’m long-term trying to live up to the moment in my mind while composing the idea of which direction I think I’m gonna go and how I want the atmosphere or sentiment of the music to feel. It’s quite an intense mental process but it’s not a technical thing. In general, I’m doing a lot of things in my life in a very intuitive, non-strategic way. For better or for worse I guess.
“ My personal musical taste is very broad and Funke allows me to showcase these distinct sides of the palette by putting me on a bunch of very diverse lineups. “
— Apart from the dj-booth, what feels like your natural habitat?
The jungle. Rivers and lakes. Kitchens and dining tables. Natural landscapes and wooden structures. Magical art installations and historical museums. Basically, the whole world feels like my natural habitat. There’s beauty to be found in so many things and literally everything could be an inspiration to me. There’s so much to explore and it’s all connected in our souls and in all of our surroundings.
— What made you happy the past year?
Being able to experience so much creativity of so many people in so many different ways.
To feel and to share energy through music and art in general, to be able to live a life where I can experience so much culture, so much expression and energy of people. To get to know others from all over the world with a passionate heart, beating for art in all its forms.
Some more specifics: Friends, encounters with strangers, Funke, Godero, Brussels, La Nature festival, Waking life, Brasserie Belle-Vue, Commotie. My friend Joachim’s homemade Korean chicken. Natural white wines. The two weeks during which my Mexican friends Jorge and Daniel came over to Belgium. We played at Kiosk Radio together and were invited to play in Antwerp with our collective ‘Group Therapy’. The last thing that made me extremely happy: Lebanon.
— What are you looking forward to in the (near) future?
I’m looking forward to continuing my explorations, and to connecting even more with other like-minded (or rather like-vibed) people and further developing my skills and musical possibilities. Many experiences I had and people I’ve met were inspiring and motivating to just keep on going.. There’s certainly some more specific plans in the running, especially aimed at expanding my musical ‘output’ and shifting up my gear creatively. But honestly ... I’m looking forward to keeping on just doing my thing.
— Can you tell us a little bit more about the playlist you composed? I want the playlist to reflect a kind of summary of sounds and artists in electronic music that deeply inspire me, some of these for about 20 years now. (Damn, seriously getting old or something.)
My selection contains an extensive range of styles, and I always compose my record bag and digital selection with a lot of attention for uplifting, playful and spacey vibes - without compromising on a profound and soulful sound. With this playlist I aim at providing the listener with an interesting and possibly even inspiring selection, created by outstanding producers from a wide variety of subgenres - floating everywhere between dub, electro, house and techno.
Interview with Yentl + words by Hans Empereur