September 23, 2016


Krewella Talk ESL One New York, Mixtape Cock-Blocking & 'Post-EDM'

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

If you use Krewella's high-energy mixes to amp up your gameplay, you may be excited about this news: the electronic sister duo are playing at one of gaming's biggest tournaments, ESL One New York.

And what's cool about that is that Fuse has teamed up with ESL to make Krewella's stage happen at the event, which runs Oct. 1 to 2 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. Fuse will also be airing a half-hour special around our ESL coverage, so stay tuned about that.

So, I know what you're thinking: HOW DO I GET TICKETS? Click here for one-day tickets to ESL, where you can catch Krewella's set that Sunday.

We caught up with Krewella's Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf to talk all things about ESL One, their current, appropriately named Sweatbox Tour and what it means to have free music on the internet. Read up, ravers!

What drew you guys to the ESL event?
The coordinator Seven reached out to our team because he really likes our music, which we’re so honored about. He thought that we’d be a really good fit with the gaming community because our music is so high energy, and a lot of the times when you see those videos that people post on YouTube of them gaming, they’re always listening to this intense music because it keeps them focused. We are not gamers ourselves, but we have a lot of fans who are gamers. We have a lot of people who put our music to their gaming videos. I remember we had an unreleased song a year ago that someone ripped from a mix we made and put it to a Call of Duty video. It’s an unreleased song that had 200,000 hits from this gaming video. So you can see how amazing that community is.

But you're not big gamers?
Neither of us really game. I think it more of a time thing. We don’t really have time, and it’s a time investment. We grew up in a household that didn’t really allow video games, but I always loved going to friends’ houses and playing games.

Do you think you’ll learn some games while you’re there?
Oh definitely. I think we’ll definitely play some games. Probably make a fool of ourselves in the process, but there’s no harm done there. I think it’s pretty much the Olympics of the gaming community.

What will your setup be?
We’re going to be doing a DJ/live vocal hybrid set, so we’ll be DJing and going in and out of tracks. When we play our own songs, we’ll be singing our own songs.

In the past year, you've been touring with a live band. What goes into getting together a guitarist and drummer for your shows?
First thing we had to do was audition a bunch of players. So we probably went through 15 drummers before we found our main drummer, Frank Zummo, who also drums for Sum 41. Once we assembled our team, our guitarist, our drummer, Yasmine and I, we basically play the role of musical director, so we’ll put together the set. We’ll arrange that, have them practice it, then we’ll have a rehearsal date where we’ll all run through and iron out any rocky transitions, mix up the set a little. And we’ll probably have like three rehearsal days before we go out on tour.

What vibe does your punk rock drummer bring to the mix?
He’s incredible. It takes like a really seasoned drummer to play in our shows because Yasmine and I, we mix really quickly. We’ll play a song, mix out, jump 20 BPM, they’re pretty dramatic transitions. You have to be a pretty intuitive drummer to keep up with mine and Yasmine’s very frantic mixes. We keep it super high energy, and we don’t play anything for more than two minutes.

Is that live sound that you put on May's Ammunition EP going to cross over to an album?
Yeah, we’re definitely going to cross that sound over, and actually keep evolving that too because we’re never set on one sound. We have too much of musical ADD to land on one thing. As you probably hear from our last EP, it’s all over the place as well. But the album is probably going to be a little bit farther in the future, and I think we’re going to start releasing song by song. We have a few that are almost ready to go that are going to do so well on a standalone level. They don’t need to be released on a body of work, so we’ll be releasing a couple singles, and then somewhere down the line, I don’t even know when, an album will come.

I was reading that mixing live instruments with the electronic DJing is indicative of "post-EDM," and the article (by Molly Hankins) pointed out that Krewella is one the acts that's making that transition right now. Do you think you're part of the "post-EDM" movement?
I love everything that Molly writes, and I think that her insight on the scene is so incredible because she’s been a part of it for so long and she has this insane perspective. So I do agree with what she was saying in it. I love the idea of the scene that was so incredibly hot three years ago. I mean, it’s still really, really hot, but it’s not the new shit anymore. I love the idea that it can keep evolving into a new beast every year and never ever come to a place where it feels stale. I like knowing that we can be a part of that—partly with our live show, partly with the musical elements that we’re bringing into our new songs, which is the ethnic elements and more live elements. I think I personally love that perspective, knowing there’s no end to what’s going on right now. It’s just a continual process.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

What inspired the new Troll Mix?
We basically wanted something that fans could pre-game to before our Sweatbox Tour, give fans a taste of the type of energy that we’re going to be performing on the road for the shows and the after-parties. We’re music lovers. We love to throw in music that we’re listening to right now and something that defines our current taste in what we like to play out as well.

I saw that sites were pulling the Troll Mix down for copyright. How important do you think it is that we have mixtapes, and what’s the best way to deliver them to fans?
WeTransfer. [Krewella uploaded their mix on We Transfer, but it has since been removed.] It’s actually a huge, huge nuisance for us. It’s obnoxious, coming from the SoundCloud world a couple years ago when we first started releasing music. We had so much freedom to drop whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted and that was a great way to keep in touch with our fans and grow our audience, to just post mixes up, and it’s sad now, years later, that when we post something, there’s immediately, that it’s going to be taken down on whatever network, channel it is. It’s frustrating because you can’t access that many fans that way. I grew up on free music. My teenage years were defined by free music, and that’s how I curated an amazing library of music and my taste in music was define by what I had access to. Just seeing how, a lot of artists, labels are shooting themselves in the foot by cockblocking bands from accessing their music.

A lot of artists, labels are shooting themselves in the foot by cock-blocking bands from accessing their music.

Jahan Yousaf

That’s the point of being a DJ.
It’s kind of a screwed up system right now. It’s a weird time we’re in.

You tweeted about the girl who broke her ankle getting on stage with you. Have you sustained any injuries while playing?
The first time I stage dove, it was 2012. Our first festival ever. I was overzealous, just so excited. And after the show, I was like, I have to get into that crowd. I jumped and I just thought I was invincible, and my shin hit the bar—you know that little bar that the front-row fan hang on to. I kept crowdsurfing and I was like, Whatever. It hurt, and you know, it’s probably a boo-boo or a bruise or something. No big deal. I was wearing knee-high socks, so I didn’t see that action that was happening underneath there. I got offstage and rolled down my knee-high sock and I see this gash that was oozing. I’m so terrified of going to the doctor and hospitals and stuff, but yeah, I had to get stitches for that. It wasn’t too bad.

That’s so hardcore.
Good thing it happened at the end of the set!

Catch Krewella on Oct. 2 at ESL One New York by copping tickets here.