In order to end 2011 on a good note we would like to introduce you to Yoko Duo a two piece band from Sweden and Germany. They released this autumn on the Hamburg-based label Fauxpas Musik their debut LP "Behaving Like a Widower" which successfully combines the sound of Berlin and Stockholm giving us one of the most outbreaking album of the year. We had the opportunity to interview August Landelius early this month to find out more about the band.
For those who might not know Yoko Duo yet, could you tell a little bit about yourselves?
We’re an electronic act based in Berlin. Containing “Holger Zilske” and “August Landelius”. We met in Berlin a couple of years ago. Holger was working on his album “Holz” and he had just heard some of my singer/songwriter-songs. We went to his studio and made two songs and I put vocals on one other track. That was he beginning of YOKO DUO.
Is it safe to say that Yoko Uno played a role in your band name Yoko Duo? Or was it just the result of pure coincidence?
A bit of both actually. We were trying to find a name that we both liked. We had both suggested a bunch of names but we didn’t found one that we both liked. So one night when I(August) was out, drinking beers with some friends, we started to talk about that a lot of people claim that Yoko Ono, more or less, split up The Beatles. So one of my friends said, “haha, your name should be Yoko dos”, and another friend said “Yoko Duo”. I was actually in a band when I lived in Sweden, but we split up because I moved to Berlin to start this project with Holger. So I suggested the name to Holger and he liked it.
Your collaboration originally started via MySpace and therefore, you worked for some time together while miles apart, Holger Zilske being in Germany and August Landelius being in Sweden. In which way did that influence your sound?
I was doing a lot of music in Sweden. And I sent some stuff to Holger and he gave me feedback on it. He liked some of the stuff and said that we should try to make an album. But we just kept a minor part of the stuff I made in my bedroom. We reworked the stuff I made in Sweden and made the rest of the songs together here in Berlin. I think it would’ve been impossible to finish an album by long distance. Especially since we’re both really picky with small details etc.
Moving the Yoko Duo headquarter so to speak to one city, Berlin, must have been very inspiring for both of you. How was the experience?
Holger was touring a lot in the beginning, so I spent all my time by the computer making music. And when he came back I showed him the stuff I made and he picked the stuff he thought sounded cool, and then we reworked them a lot and made new stuff as well.
Behaving Like A Widower, your first album, just got released this August, on Fauxpas Musik. How does it feel to finally see it out for the world to hear?
Strange, but great! We spent so much time working with the album and it was actually finished in July 2010. So, it took a while to find the right label for the music. A lot of labels were interested, but it felt too complicated to start working with most of them. Fauxpas Musik directly gave us a date for when they wanted to release it etc. They were really into it and really listened to what we wanted to do.
What artistic components did each of you bring in making such an accomplished debut album?
I’m really interested in chords and melodies and Holger has been a part of the Berlin electronica/techno elite for a while now. Co-writing Ellen Alliens first three albums and releasing a lot of other stuff on his own name and as Smash TV etc. So the combination was/is a really good. He thought me A LOT when it comes to making beats and how to structure a song. So now I’m almost more interested in beats then melodies at the moment. I can still work on chords for days/weeks though.
As far as the lyrics and melodies are concerned, what stimulates your creative drive?
I think the main point is that we both are really interested in a lot of different kind of music. I’ve been into hiphop, RnB, neo-soul,singer/songwriter-stuff, indie-rock, jazz, electro, electronica, house, minimal-techno etc. I’m really a music-nerd.
Do you believe that being daring in music pays off?
I don’t really reflect on it in that way. It’s just a lot more fun to try to make something a bit groundbreaking. But it’s hard for me to tell if the album is groundbreaking or not. I make a lot of stuff for fun that sounds too much like someone/something else but I really think you learn to develop an own sound by trying out making different stuff. As soon as I hear a good trac/album I get inspired. But I get more inspired of the ideas in the songs, then I try to use that idea into something else.
What would you like to communicate with this album? Is the title in itself a clue to the message?
The album-title is about something I think everybody has experienced. To pity your self, but not really trying to do something about it.
The songs on Behaving Like A Widower have a very mellow, laid-back feel to them. Does that translate your mind-set when you were working on them?
I wasn’t feeling that great when I arrived to Berlin and I wrote a lot of lyrics at that time. But I think the title reflects what really happens when you’re lovesick. I was more or less just home making music and, in many ways, behaving like a widower. I felt sorry for my self, but it didn’t really feel justified. A widower has a proper reason to moan and silk. I had no real reason to behave as I did. I was just lovesick and who hasn’t been that?
Looking back on the process of making this album, is there anything that you wish you could have done differently?
Not really. We've spent so much time on small details on the album, so it feels like that paid off in the end. We’re both really proud of the album, but we’re also a bit tired of it. I try to listen to it sometimes, on the bus or something, but I just end up thinking about totally random boring stuff. So, I can’t really hear the album so to speak. But I think the sound will be different if/when we’ll make new stuff. We’ve got some ideas already.
Are we to expect a tour from you guys anytime soon?
I don’t know actually. I think our music has a crowd. It’s just a bit too small at the moment. But hopefully the Internet will do its job. It’s a small, but really nice label and it’ll take some time for the word to be spread. We’ll definitely put as much effort in the liveshows as we did in the album, if we’ll have a small tour.
What’s on replay?
Tame Impala – InnerSpeaker. I’ve been so caught up in beat-based music lately, so this album was a really nice contrast to all that.
Is there anything we’ve left out that you’d like to share?