Meet Emily Veliz, a force to be reckoned with and one of The Gradient Perspective‘s finest. Her transcendental artistry has quickly made her a shining star in the underground and an EH artist to watch. Luckily, we had the chance to sit down with Yoko for an exclusive interview about her inspirations, upcoming events, and more!
Morganne Davis, Electric Hawk: Let’s start by telling us a little about yourself!
Emi: My name’s Emi; it’s not Yoko. I grew up in Tacoma, Washington, and when I moved to Boulder [for college], I fell in love with the electronic scene. I had literally never listened to EDM before I got out to Colorado because I grew up listening to vinyl, 40s jazz, and big band. [laughs] Way different stuff! I quickly got acclimated to the scene here and fell in love with that! The kids I ride with now I met in college; we started producing together back in the day, kids like Skinny Limbs and BackLeft. So, it’s been a great community. Lovin’ the ride so far.
MD: Colorado is the perfect spot to begin that journey!
E: Oh, it is! I had no idea what I was getting into when I moved out here!
MD: Haha! So, what encouraged you to begin producing?
E: I started going to shows quickly, like my freshman year. One kid I knew was playing around with a board, and I thought- that looks fun. I’m going to try that! Not long after that, I got enamored by it and wanted to create it myself. So, I think it was a few months after DJing, I was like yeah, I have to produce! I self-taught myself through college, and here I am! [laughs]
MD: That’s impressive! Who are some artists that you gain inspo from?
E: The main person who kickstarted all of it was Rezz‘s set at Ultra in 2017. Seeing a female up there, especially a female throwing darker bass music, I thought, wow, that’s f*cking awesome. I want to do that! So, it’s definitely her.
Also, seeing Ganja White Night a lot was something that I was super into. It’s pretty much those [artists] who pioneered it for me. I was really into the heavier stuff back in the day!
MD: I think that’s how most of us start because I started with heavy stuff too!
E: Right! My first show was Zomboy! [laughs]
MD: In general, how would you describe the style of your music?
E: It’s dark… on a slow-paced scale. Although, lately, I’ve veered more toward halftime and classical instrumentation. I like blending that noir, vintage vibe with classical instruments. So, that’s what I’m trying to steer towards! It definitely caters to the darker side of music.
Before continuing, dip into the first Yoko album, Beneath The High Sea.
MD: What new sounds should we be keeping an eye out for? Likewise, what’s your next goal for the Yoko project?
E: Hm, in a week or two, we’re announcing a Street Ritual release again! It’s a collab EP with my best friend Skinny Limbs; we’re excited about that one. Then I have many self-releases that I will be doing this summer, gearing up for Sonic Bloom and The Untz.
Also, collab season is upon us! [laughs] I’m trying to get the courage to reach out to some people and start those collaborations. But I have some projects in the works that I’ve sent to some dream labels. So, that’s like a big goal of mine, to get on those labels, and even if I don’t, I just want to release that music. And keep pioneering that sound. My biggest goal lately has been focusing on halftime and more of that style. 87 bpm, just kickin’ it.
MD: As you said, you have a few festival appearances soon, hence the year of Yoko! Have you attended Sonic Bloom or The Untz before?
E: I went to Bloom for the first time last year! The second I got there, I thought, this is my goal!
MD: Oh, yay! Props to you for locking in a bucket list festival slot!
E: Yes! And The Untz, I haven’t been yet, but I’m very excited. Then I’m also playing June Jam, which I’ve heard great things about.
MD: Where is June Jam located?
E: It’s in Flagstaff, Arizona. I can’t wait to get out there and play for a new crowd!
MD: You’re taking over nationwide one fest at a time, I see! Speaking of events, there is also your DEF event at the end of this month! How thrilled are you for an ATL debut?!
E: Yeah! I keep waking up and realizing this is real; I’m actually playing DEF! I’ve never been to Atlanta, so I’m psyched. I guess I have some friends out there! [laughs]
MD: Do you have anything special planned for the set?
E: Of course! This weekend I’m polishing up a bunch of unreleased music for it. I’m trying to do probably 80% originals. Plus, many DEF-inspired remixes and some hip-hop acapella overlays.
MD: Ah, that’s going to be so much fun! I wish I could be there!
E: I know! I love the boiler room style, like everyone surrounding me and feeding off that energy!
MD: Undoubtedly, your genuine success has inspired all, including myself! Is there any advice you would give other ladies in the music industry, whether they’re an artist or working behind the scenes?
E: Keep your head up and stay off of social media. That’s the biggest thing for me. Regardless, your core group of people knows your values and what you stand for; it’s very defeating to try and defend yourself 24/7 on social media. As someone who speaks out on a lot of the hate in our community … trying to stand up against that is tiring.
MD: Absolutely! Especially day after day after day.
E: Yeah! And you can get into the same fight every day, no matter what. So it’s just about keeping your eyes focused on that goal. Focus on your projects, and the rest will follow!
MD: Thank you, Emi, that’s excellent advice.
MD: To conclude, I must ask a silly question! Would you rather listen to one song for the rest of your life or never listen to the same song again?
E: I would choose to only listen to songs once. I don’t think I could listen to the same music over and over again. That would be hard! And I guess there’s a magical element about only listening to a song once because it’s always the best the first time you hear it. But not being able to listen to it again would suck! [laughs]
It’s obvious how Emi’s charming personality and self-taught talent have skyrocketed her project in the past couple of years, not to mention the enthusiastic team and fans behind her. So, be sure to dive into the mystical Yoko vibe, whether it’s her latest remix of Clozee’s “Mirage” or her Ronin’s Reprisal Vol. 1 mix with all originals!
Lastly, a huge thank you to Emi and The Gradient Perspective homies for the tremendous opportunity. Team Yoko forever!
In the meantime, check here for the next Yoko set near you!
If you’re looking for new music, keep up with our weekly Spotify Playlist, Fresh Hunts. Whether it’s the newest tracks from Yoko, something new from your favorite artists, some old school, or underground—we want you to hear it.