[Photo by Úna Blue]
It all started with some whiskey and a Facebook message. At least that’s what Duh Cripe tells me about the beginnings of Seattle electronic duo YourYoungBody. After taking one too many shots, Killian Brom sent Duh a message asking to make music together. This led to a meet up at Sureshot in the U-District, which led to the two talking in the alleyway behind it for hours.
“It’s not at all what I would have expected from a ‘how you met your bandmate’ kind of story,” Duh Cripe tells me inside Café Vita, “but it just totally made sense, and from there we were really making music together.”
Fast-forward five years, and YYB’s discography spans four EPs, a demo EP, and almost too many singles to count. Self-described as “dark electronic,” their work ranges from hour-long club mixes to synthy dream pop. In addition to their music, the duo has been dedicated to redefining the Seattle electronic scene. Duh took some time to chat with me about how they’re challenging the industry, Seattle music scene, early 2000s pop, and pretty much anything in between.
Beyond the sounds, YYB is involved with Seattle organizations like TUF, KEXP’s Audioasis, and other creatives in the Seattle area. The duo is committed to promoting other artists in addition to making their own art. Duh adds, “I think it’s important if you’re an artist, especially a white artist, to recognize that you’re very privileged to have the opportunity to be on a show that supports other artists that are growing, or who deserve spotlight that they maybe wouldn’t necessarily get. I think if we can support that, we can help put on shows, and then suggest other friends’ acts to support us on the bill. That’s bringing more of our community together, and using the privilege of getting to meet all these people to support each other.”
“I love being a platform for other artists. That’s kind of what it’s all about.”
Knowing so many other artists gives YYB a look into the Seattle music scene—even beyond the ever-growing electronic scene. Duh mentions that she’s never felt like she’s had to pick a certain pocket of the music scene, but that she wishes it was less categorized and labeled. “A lot of times I’ll hang out with a certain group of friends or musicians who don’t even really hang out, play music with, or book shows with a whole other group of musicians. I feel like bridging that gap is really important and we should be looking at bookers to do that more. Also, putting the pressure on bookers to see that there’s a lot of potential and crossover. I love to see that my friends are playing shows all the time, but it’s also like, you know, I want new artists to constantly be supported by those bookers and the venues and new smaller radio stations.”
Duh also added, “I wish there were more underage and DIY spaces. Not everybody is 21. I wasn’t 21 when I was playing music at first.” Before she started detailing her experience standing in the pouring rain a few years ago because a venue wouldn’t let her in to perform at her own show. They were opening for one of her favorites, White Ring, and she had to stand in the pouring rain until it was time for her set. She can laugh about it now, but she also said, “I just totally have empathy for younger performers or people who are under 21 [and] want to go to a good show.”
“Safe spaces are always essential. If you don’t know what a f***ing safe space is, you probably shouldn’t be there.”
We then started talking about her experiences as an independent musician over the past few years in Seattle. Expressing frustration over the current state of the industry, she explains, “It’s great to be on a label, but you should understand what that means. When I see really sick bands that deserve to be paid well working 9-5 jobs, or part-time gigs to pay their rent, it makes me sad. It makes me frustrated about the industry, about the greed involved in it, but it’s definitely the reality. You can be signed to a label like Sub Pop and still be not be able to pay rent, and that’s just unacceptable in my opinion.” So, being completely independent doesn’t have too many drawbacks for YYB. Duh mentions that because they run the show themselves, they’re able to control what shows they book and who they book with, who they talk to, and what their beliefs are—without a label or money getting in the way.
“I think any band our size—if they can be independent and do it, they should.”
So what’s next for YYB in 2017? Duh hints at new music, new merch, and new collaborations. Two years off of the release of their latest EP, Betrayer, Duh says they’re leaning more towards pop. Citing early 2000s pop (The Killers, ATC, and even Carly Rae Jepsen were mentioned) as their current inspiration, expect YYB to be getting a bit more dark-pop. Duh smiles before saying, “I kind of want to make people dance a little bit. I feel like it’s been really fun not having the pressure of anybody needing to dance in the audience, but every once in awhile, it’s really cool to see someone really get into your music. It’s like, I see everybody from where I’m standing… it kind of sucks if you’re on your phone! I don’t want to make music like that.” Duh continues, “We’re not going to be afraid to be pop. You know, I think, 2017, we’re like, ‘Dude, f*** it, pop music is f**king cool,” and who, really, is going to argue with that?
ANNA KAPLAN | Audioasis | KXSU Music Reporter