Ones to Watch: yeule
Classifying London residing musician, yeule, as simply an “electronic artist” only hints at the complex trances of Nat Ćmiel’s work. Inspired by the cyber and digital cloud that looms over the newest generations, Ćmiel layers confessional experiences over lucid productions. She began scraping the surface six years ago with her first SoundCloud upload, Impure, complete with #ambient tag and 10 supportive user comments.
After solidifying her sound through a collection of releases, yeule has become an idea and experience. Her music feels like entering an echoing, uncharted territory driven by veins of noise and a nomadic upbringing. By further developing and drifting into yeule’s identity, Ćmiel carves out her own lane of electronic music. With post-pop experimentations embodied by track Pocky Boy, she cements her creative aptitude and attracts global attention. Upon the release of her latest video for Pretty Bones, she announces her official sign to Brooklyn based indie label, Bayonet Records. Ćmiel is more than on her way. We sat down with the current Fine Art student by day and pop star by night to talk about how her sound came to be. Check out her Q&A below!
Who are you, yeule?
yeule is my reflection, your reflection, your friend, your enemy, a cut in dimensional fabric, a disappearing space. yeule is whoever you want her to be. In real life, I’m a 21-year-old Chinese girl named Nat who takes care of a ginger cat named Miso.
Did your early environment or experiences influence your interest in music?
I can’t remember for sure, I can barely recall what really moved me… I’d find my own things to listen to because I hated everything else. My mother listened to Swing Out Sister, my father listened to a lot of Land Lang. And I listened to these tapes clicking, whirring, winding up itself, and the sound of the rain.
When did you start experimenting with DAWs and music production?
I thought I’d give it a go since I had some classical knowledge in piano and could kind of play the guitar. I always thought the sound of analog synths and the digitization of natural sounds was quite insane. Imagine playing it to a teenager in the 1800s. I liked being able to make something I could playback to myself and listen to, even if nobody ever heard it. I was 15 when I wrote ‘Ending’.
What were your first experiences with live gigs like?
Ooh, scary! I played my first show in Singapore, where I’m from. I don’t remember much… yeule was an embryo. Imagine trying to perform as a deformed lovechild of all your past selves!
Is there a specific artist or genre that inspired you to start creating your own music?
Avant-garde & Noise!
Your music has veins of ambient, post-pop, electronic, and more. Who are you listening to right now?
Nico, Toru Takemitsu, Merzbow, Brigitte Fontaine, John Cage, Ryuchi Sakamoto, Lydia Lunch. Oh, how could I forget Björk?
Can you talk about the creative writing and production process behind “Pocky Boy”?
It was one of those moments, a vivid dream transcoded into a song… I felt like I could see myself from above, and I felt like I had to write a song for her, the one I saw lingering below. When you imprint too much of your identity into the virtual sphere, you can sometimes get lost.. With a shifting online persona, virtual fantasies, utopias, and the rendered self- it’s strange to return to the real world and be content with your life. I woke up, got my hands on my synth, and I played the melody of Pocky Boy. Some days, the melody comes easily. This was one of them I think…
Your music and videos, like ‘Pocky Boy,’ extend themes of the cyberworld. Can you talk about your philosophy behind incorporating consumerism and internet culture into your music?
Experimental music is an interesting medium because it can evolve and create subcultures that exist to subvert an inflating level of control that technology has on you. With experimental genres of music mirroring the digital sound, it mirrors the digital landscape. This abstraction of time and place and culture, all into a 120bpm electronic beat.. It’s beautiful, it’s almost a cry for help but more so a song to connect with each other. Have you been there before? It might not seem so bad, after all- integrating social technology and virtual realities into the mind’s eye of my reality, your reality… Is it the same? Imagine growing up in a world where you prefer being inside the screen.. that was my world…
Since you are experienced with the positive and negative aspects of the digital landscape, were you ever afraid of releasing your music/videos on the internet?
I don’t see myself as experienced, I think. It hasn’t affected my mind, but it’s warped the way I see myself in this world. I don’t loathe internet culture or social media having the power to perpetuate hegemony into culture, etc., etc. With algorithms that follow your every move, falling into the cold embrace of social media culture is so tempting! There are many ways to make it your world instead of theirs! I’m not scared…
At what point did you realize your work resonated with audiences beyond your immediate circle?
I don’t know what this means. The more I wrote, the more it sounded like music. My early works were noise and static. I fear to turn into something I never was. But I also want to scream at the top of my voice above a mountain and high up the clouds! I guess SoundCloud does this for me.
Right now you are a student in London at Central St. Martins! What are you studying?
I’m in my second year doing a bachelor’s degree in fine art. I used to paint full-time before music became this big chrysalis that froze that era of my life up. I now do a lot of performance art which mixes my noise pieces into post-apocalyptic spaces. Ugh!
How do you balance attending university while maintaining your career and artistry?
This is a very good question, Gabriella — I’m a shapeshifter.
How does the UK underground electronic scene differ from Singapore’s electronic DIY culture?
I’ve went to see Kiasmos, Óláfur Arnalds, & Grouper in London in the last 6 months. They’re not necessarily from the UK, but I think the culture here brings in a lot of more techno, experimental electronic and ambient acts. As to how much it differs, I can’t say exactly. I might accidentally speak for the millions of cultures and subcultures that exist in the music scene. I do know that in Singapore, there are a lot of very, very good bands- a friend of mine, Nigel, runs a label called Middle Class Cigars. Kin Leonn is also an exceptional ambient composer and I love him very much. My best friend Nicky is in a band called Specific Islander. The scene in Singapore is very close-knitted, we all seem to know each other in some way. Kind of like a big troubled family.
Can you tell us about what you’re working on now? Any new music releases for 2019?
I’ve finished working on 12 tracks for Serotonin II. Remember that name… It’s done now, we just gotta wait for the aliens to approve. I’m working on the album after that, I think. I don’t know what I’m doing lmao.
Lastly, where do you hope to be in the next 5 years?
I hope I’ll still be here, it’s tempting to want to upload yourself!
PHOTOGRAPHER: Lauren Maccabee
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