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General, Music Business, Music Production

Interview with disco don Yam Who? aka Qwestlife!

I interviewed Yam Who? in this week’s blog post and asked him some questions that might just capture your imagination a wee bit. So who is  Yam Who?. He’s the internationally known alter ego of disco producer Andy Williams. One of the most consistent DJ’s on the circuit, every weekend you’ll find him rocking the dance floor at clubs & festivals around the globe including Glitterbox, Lovebox, Ministry Of Sound, Horse Meat Disco, Love International etc.. He’s featured on line ups with the world’s finest selectors including Greg Wilson, Joey Negro, Melvo Baptiste, Tiger & Woods, Purple Disco Machine & Danny Krivit. So let’s dive into the questions!

 What do you currently do?
Currently I wear a lot of hats, but in a nutshell I do the following:

  • DJ as Yam Who & Qwestlife
  • Artist / Producer as Yam Who & Qwestlife
  • Owner of 3 labels – ISM, Midnight Riot & Black Riot 
  • Songwriter
  • Journalist – Mixmag disco editor, providing a cutting edge platform for the modern disco, boogie & house scenes

 How did you break into the industry?
I started DJ’ing at university. Then there weren’t many DJ’s back then (it was a long time ago lol). Then suddenly it seemed to become very cool and there were too many. Throughout this period I always had the disco bug. I was also always into technology and instruments and I seemed to naturally drift into music production. I realised early on that the only way into music was through production and I started Yam Who. From this I naturally progressed into setting up ISM Records in 2009. Following on from ISM I sensed a missing niche in the market and started Midnight Riot and the label literally took off. I learnt a lot from starting ISM that really helped with Midnight Riot being the success that it is. Anyways all this led to getting a gig at Mixmag as their Disco editor and from here I ended up getting signed to Glitterbox which was a dream come true. I still remember getting a call from the team there and what a surreal feeling it was. I loved the label and they said they wanted to create some synergy and I now have an album coming out on their label under my production guise ‘Qwestlife’ with Tom Laroye.
I have to point out that this whole process spans 30 years, I started in music back in 1989. I firmly believe that the only way to break into the scene now is to set up yourself correctly, through things like Bandcamp and having a strong brand and releasing great music. Internet technology has levelled the playing field. The way to do it is through perseverance, ingenuity and creativity. 

How long did it take you to be a success?
As I mentioned above it’s taken me 30 years and it’s just really getting going now! There have definitely been key, formative events on the way, like when I first got into Hip Hop in 1983. MOre than just music this was a movement centred around music, dancing (breaking), art (graffiti)  and fashion – all things that I love. Even with Midnight Riot, I came up with the name after the Tottenham Riots in 2011. They had just happened and I was trying to get home at midnight, (I live in Tottenham)!
Everything comes together in a weird way. I feel nowadays everyone wants an instant fix but you have to take your time, hone your craft, practice and be creative as that breeds longevity. If it’s any consolation I’ve made a ton of mistakes on the way. 

What advice do you have for producers trying to break into the industry?
Persevere, be creative, hone your craft and hustle. Also make your music with passion, you have to come with the right intentions and be authentic.

How is it best to send music out to DJ’s, labels and Management companies?
I use SendMusic for this, as it’s so fast and reliable and you guys are brilliant at helping me out whenever I need it!

 What are your favourite go to plugins?
I’m a software junkie I think, but here are the staples:
– Arturia – V Collection
– Xfer – Serum
– Fabfilter – Pro Q, Saturn
– Native Instruments – Kontakt, Massive, Reaktor
Everyone has their own system, find what works for you, but really master whatever it is you use. Most DAW’s come with insane stock plug ins now to be fair. I also use a ton of hardware as well, loads of outboard synths. There’s something special and organic about capturing analogue signals that gives your music real warmth and depth. I think this can be lacking sometimes with solely plugins.

Do you have your own tracks mixed and mastered by someone else?
Yes I now use someone else, even though I can do it and used to do it all myself. But you reach a certain level where it’s better outsourced and I prefer the separation of the stages now.
Mixing and mastering duties fyi are done by a certain Matt Bandy, he’s great!

 What trends do you see in the scene this coming year?
The Disco vibe is just starting to really get going – it’s going to get bigger this year I believe.
Our debut Qwestlife album is out this year on Glitterbox, so excited for that and hoping that trends!
Also i’m seeing a collective of people / producers / songwriters making big songs again with  great vocals and great songwriting. It’s an exciting time in the scene.

Who are your favourite producers
There are a ton out there but right now i’m digging the following:
– The Vision – Kon and Ben Westbeech
– Art of tones
– Michael Gray
– Joey Negro
– Purple Disco Machine

How can our users get you music, for either getting signed to one of your labels or inclusion in your DJ sets?
If you go to my SendMusic Profile Page here, just send it via that! Like I said, it’s my file transfer method of choice 🙂

That’s it for this week. Finally, thanks Yam, it was great talking to you and best of luck for the rest of 2020. We look forward to hearing your art!

Pal

pal@sendmusic.com

 

 

 

 

 

About Pal

Co-founder @ SendMusic // pal@send.mu

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