The story of Yatuza

Bangers from Buenos Aires: Yatuza touches down with 1 More Thing on his first EU tour

When a young Emanuel Durante used to quote Ali G in the school yard, growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, little did he know that he would share the same Staines stomping ground as the infamous comedy character on his first European tour as an artist.

So please give a massive boh, booyakasha and the biggest big up yourself to Yatuza, an artist who has dedicated his life and soul to pursue his D&B dream. Hailing from his homeland of Argentina, this powerhouse producer has come a long way from humble beginnings. From trading artwork for dubplates to playing out at the pinnacle of festivals for drum & bass DJs… Let It Roll!

Determination to make drum & bass paved the way to new surroundings with a move north from Argentina to Colombia. Bogota became his new base, home of RE.SET, a leading force in South American D&B responsible for bringing the most prominent international acts to the Colombian capital. Joining the RE.SET family gave Yatuza a sense of community and ignited further fire as releases on Sinful Maze, Sub-liminal and 31 Records launched his sound further around the world.

One pandemic and multiple releases later, Yatuza is now taking his sound around the globe physically as this summer marks his debut European tour which spans cities such as Vienna, Salzburg, Madrid and festivals like the aforementioned Let It Roll.

It’s a beautiful time to be Yatuza. But this comes with a bittersweet, tragic twist as he lost his biggest supporter little over a year ago. One thing is for sure, his mother is seriously smiling down on him right now.

Always looking ahead but never forgetting his roots and his biggest inspirations, Emanuel has tackled every twist and turn life has thrown at him and matured into an extremely grounded, electrifying and unique craftsman who’s never sounded more on point. His latest Tactics EP on Yamatai is a fantastic example of where he is at right now.

So call up your mate Dave, text up your man Ricky and tell your Julie you’ll be round a bit later. It’s time to recognise, to realise, Yatuza is most definitely in da house right now…

Firstly, welcome to the UK! How was your debut UK show at Drum Shack?

It was good! I had a lot of fun! I saw a lot of producers that I’ve only seen online so it was something very unique for me, I had a lot of fun at Drum Shack and I also did my first pirate radio set yesterday as well!

Sick! What else have you been doing while you’re over in the UK?

Well at the moment it kind of sucks that I’m here for such a short time because I’m only here for five days. So far, we’ve just been chilling, I’ve made two tunes since I’ve been here.

Let’s take things right back to the beginning and find out a bit about how you got here. Was music something you knew you would get into from a young age?

It was around about when I was fifteen or sixteen when I started collecting music, so ever since then I’ve been struck by music and I haven’t really looked away. When I turned seventeen I really started getting into music production. So it was from then that I got into learning about production, drum & bass in general and now it’s going to be almost eleven years since I started making my own music and producing on Ableton. So I’m extremely grateful for everything that it’s brought me to!

I know drum & bass has benefited hugely from the scene in Sao Paulo, Brazil. What is Drum & Bass culture like in other parts of South America?

In Argentina, it’s a bit less hyped up. Less people producing the music. If I’m honest with you, I think we can count the artists from Argentina that produce drum & bass on one hand so it’s very small! When I took the decision to move to Colombia, I actually moved because of the drum & bass scene being so much bigger over there. I met a lot more producers from South America and a lot more people throwing events so it was really nice for me to go there and to get in touch with those people.

Sao Paulo is really active with drum & bass as well! I think in Brazil they have the most drum & bass producers in South America. Although Brazil is a country where you see a lot of producers, it sort of has it’s own sound now it’s crazy, you’re hearing the sounds of Samba mixed with drum & bass and they’ve also got some Liquid roots so it’s really cool. At the moment I think Colombia is actually leading scene in terms of drum & bass in South America because there’s not a lot of other countries in the continent that have the events that are popping off as much as they are in Colombia.

Your South American roots must’ve come with a few challenges. What challenges did that bring you and how did you overcome them?

Coming out of South America, drum & bass isn’t really our thing so it’s kind of hard to thrive as a producer. Especially when you’re starting off because there’s not a lot of peers or people who are actually doing the same thing. When I started, there was already some people making D&B in Argentina but they didn’t really have the confidence to release the music. I think one of the most difficult things being a drum & bass producer coming out of Argentina is having people take you seriously with the music that you’re making. But in South America it’s very much an individual thing, there’s not a lot of support from external people. It took a while to make a name for myself even in my own country and even though I have releases on UK labels, it was still hard for me to get recognised. So that’s what I think is one of the hardest things, getting recognised and respected for something you’re creating. So once I left Argentina, everything just started growing. I’m actually one of the only Argentine artists that’s going to be playing at Let It Roll or maybe one of the only Argentine artists that’s ever released on 31 Records.

How do the scenes in Argentina and Colombia compare to what you’re experiencing over here in Europe?

Well so far it has been really different. It is very small compared to the scene over here in the UK where you have so much variety, so many people doing their thing and investing their time in making something out of drum & bass. In the UK at least, it’s a culture so if you want to be an MC, a producer or a DJ there are so many people in the community who are willing to support you and help you get to that goal and that dream of yours. When I got here to the UK and heard all of the jump up it was a bit of a culture shock for me because I hadn’t listened to so much jump up for years!

In Colombia they don’t listen to jump up at all so out there, the DJs spin more deep, neurofunk styles. I love to share my music and I know that even though it’s not on that Amplify jump up style, I still have a lot of those elements in my tunes. In Europe, we have the same thing, not a lot of countries outside of Belgium really like jump up. In the UK, you don’t really have the neuro side and in Europe I think you do get more of a mix of everything. It’s really cool to see and it’s very inspiring as well because it’s reminding me of the reasons why I got into drum & bass. It’s surprising for me to hear it on the radio over here! It makes me really happy to see how the culture is and how into the music everybody on this side of the world is!

You’re visiting a lot of countries over the summer so this must be a bit of a dream tour for you? How are you finding it so far?

I’m loving it! The tour has been awesome! All the people I’ve met so far, they’ve taken care of me, they’ve made me feel so comfortable. I want to thank everybody that’s made me feel like I am at home. It’s been so nice and so refreshing as well because in Colombia I would just stay inside my home or in my studio just working on the tunes and to finally be out and about is really nice! The last four days I’ve spent in the UK I know is not a lot of time but I’ve spent it in the best way possible. I’m in Staines now, this place is infamous for Ali G! So it’s been funny because when I was younger I would always be quoting Ali G so for me now to be staying in the same town as him has been jokes and a coincidence as well!

Obviously Let It Roll is also part of your tour. Years of hard work obviously paying off, congratulations. How does it feel to be involved with a festival like this? 

Thank you! Well it feels amazing and to be honest, when I got the news I felt like crying because I was so emotional. My mother passed away last year around this time so it’s been like a year now and it’s been so hard man. So when I got the news the first thing I wanted to do was call my mum and let her know that I’m going to tour and do all these gigs! She was a real big supporter. She was one of the main supporters who got behind me leaving Argentina and moving to Colombia to pursue my dreams even inside South America. I’ve got so many new tunes planned it’s crazy. For Let It Roll, I have a 100% Yatuza set planned with a lot of collaborations. The idea is to go in with an original set, take advantage of the slot and the space that they’ve given me to share my music. I hope they like it!

I’m sure they will. So let’s talk a little bit more about your sound now. Where did your sound come from?

My sound came from when I was growing up, around fifteen or sixteen. I listened to a lot of Konichi, one of my top producers for sure. I made some artwork for him in 2012 and that was one of the artworks that got me into making music and artworks for artists, labels and just the drum & bass movement!

It was one of those ways that I actually got to speak to the artists so speaking to Konichi back then, I told him “I’m an illustrator, I’m an artist. I’d love to make you some artwork if you send me some tunes to listen to.” So it was kind of like trading art for art. That was one of the ways that I got my first dubs and I just kept on collecting the music because it was so different to me. Now I just like to put all of my musical tastes into what I’m producing. I’m not trying to produce a certain sub genre or a certain vibe, I’m just producing whatever comes out and trying to make it so that I like it. My sound would be like a mix of deep drum & bass, neuro and jump up.

You’re part of a new generation, pioneering new sounds and new energy in drum & bass. How important is it to the genre that breakthrough artists bring these new elements?

I think it’s very important in the sense of evolution. Because if we just focused ourselves on making the same kind of styles of drum & bass like has happened before, people would get bored of it. When I first started listening to music, the reason why I liked a certain artists music was because it had that sense of originality. Like the tunes sometimes would be so weird, it would just be an example of whatever that person is imagining or give you a sense of what that persons personality is!

Being yourself is so important as well because if you be yourself, you’ll believe in yourself and have the confidence in the sound you’re trying to push. If you remember one of the tunes that’s your favourite, it’s probably your favourite because of how different it is or because of the expression that the artist has produced on the tune. You can tell someone’s personality just from the music they make. I think it’s very important to have an individual sound and working towards that is one of the best feelings ever when you start achieving that sound that you imagined in your head it feels wonderful because that’s what you thought of and you’re making it real. You never stop learning on the production side of things.

You’re a busy man this summer and you’ve been making new tunes. What does the next year look like for Yatuza? Any new releases in the pipeline?

Well, I’ve got some releases coming on Dispatch, Alpha9, I’ve got some coming out for Sinful Maze, Grid Recordings, Sub-liminal. I try to make something every day! I’m getting some things ready to release my best tune for next year and keep the ball rolling from there! I did want to mention a special shoutout to RE.SET which is the organiser and event planner out of Bogota that has helped me with most of the dates in Europe. We’re working together on this tour so a special mention out to RE.SET! We’ve been working on this for a while now, so happy it’s finally going down and it wouldn’t have been possible without them. Shout out to Jairo! It’s my first time on this side of the world, I’m taking it all as it comes. I’m enjoying it! I’m in shock, I’m in awe.

Yatuza – Tactics EP is out now on Yamatai 

Follow Yatuza: Facebook > Soundcloud > Instagram


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