The Continuous Rise of Yolophonik

This interview appears in HYPE magazine #31, available here.

TEXT: BOITUMELO MOLAMU | IMAGES: COURTESY OF ARTIST

HYPE chats to Yolophonik about setting himself apart, his versatility, upcoming music and his aspirations. “I do see myself attempting to break into the international market, basically as an export to show that we do cater to and create other genres of music besides just amapiano,” he says.

That feeling you get during a Yolophonik set when an unmatched transition is met with a blend of both familiar and new sounds, that feeling is possibly the closest thing to a euphoric state, it is the true meaning of ‘when music hits you, you feel no pain’. After a few months since his last appearance in HYPE, the producer and DJ has been hard at work, from appearing on the Archive Collective campaign by Archive and Nike to co-producing the surprise 420 release, The Burning Tree: Remix Deluxe, by A-Reece. We caught up with Yolophonik to talk more about his career, his music and his plans for the year.

…WHEN AN ARTIST WANTS MY HELP, THEY DO MENTION THEY WANT THAT YOLOPHONIK SOUND, A SOUND THEY KNOW AND UNDERSTAND ONLY I CAN PRODUCE.

A lot has happened since the last time you were featured in HYPE back in 2022. Talk to us about the growth you’ve experienced in the past few months, especially compared to when you were first starting out.

Honestly, it’s been hectic, at some points, it gets to me and fatigue strikes; however, it fuels me to keep going. I think the biggest growth I’ve experienced so far is my musicality; I’ve grown a lot musically, and that has helped me reach people I never thought I would one day, people like A-Reece, Blxckie and The Big Hash. It’s been crazy, and I also think it’s cool to see how when you are consistent and patient with yourself, things can change drastically.

For you, what does consistency look like as an artist?

I think being consistent as an artist is about not keeping people waiting. I know this is also a debate considering it’s very subjective because some artists are fixated on the idea of making their art perfect, but the thing is, it’s never going to be perfect.

I think it’s safe to say your musical taste is a differentiator of yours, from the sets you play to the music you produce, it’s very different to the norm and undeniably diverse. How do you get to that point of creating and curating such a musical palette?

On my bio, I describe myself as an alternative DJ, and that encompasses every genre that I enjoy. You can add R&B, funk house music, and you can add hip-hop; the fact that I love listening to different music makes it much easier for me to try all these genres and come off as diverse and never as unauthentic. Also, whenever I cater to a specific genre, I always take an alternative route, which furthermore differentiates me from the music I make.

Considering yourself to be alternative yet also being able to dabble in other genres really allows you to move freely and be unboxed. As positive as that may be, in industry and business conversation, it can come off as a little confusing to some. Talk more about how your alternative approach has been working out in your career and where you see it going.

True, in certain rooms, it does get confusing; however, it does not mean all is done and gone. I think there is an opportunity for my music to resonate more with an international audience, especially in Europe, because I think they are more open to alternative music, so I do see myself attempting to break into the international market, basically as an export to show that we do cater to and create other genres of music besides just amapiano.

With major things already happening in your career, what are you most excited about for the year?

I think this year I’d like to expand my catalogue on major digital streaming platforms – that’s one thing I’ve been trying to figure out. Also, I’d like to put out more projects, projects where I’m creative lead. I already have one that’s ready to come out now; however, the end goal is to have at least two to three projects out by this time next year.

Going international is to reach a bigger audience, I assume, and in previous interviews, you mentioned that the goal for you is to be sustainable, or that you want to have a sustainable career. What does that actually entail?

Sustainability to me means being able to wake up and not having to worry about bills not being paid. It’s all about being able to cover the essentials of everyday life, and never worrying about them.

Despite the commercial pressures, you’ve stood your ground, and it has worked. You’ve carved a name for yourself, which has led to you working with the likes of Blxckie, A-Reece and The Big Hash. How do you not let external pressures get to you, and how do you get these artists to trust your taste?

I think my being different makes me stand out, and the fact that I’m not falling for external pressures makes me more and more unique. I think that is also one of the reasons why artists are willing to trust my word because when an artist wants my help, they do mention they want that Yolophonik sound, a sound they know and understand only I can produce. Also, never forget to be personable, and by that, I mean to be nice to people and treat them with respect. Standing my ground and being personable have put me in rooms and situations I never thought I’d be in.

This interview appears in HYPE magazine #31, available here.

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