Giraffage: "I Don't Want a Label Telling Me What Kind of Songs to Make"
Photo by Grady Brannan
When we saw Giraffage open for Porter Robinson's Worlds tour, he completely blew us away. Sure, we were familiar with the San Fran producer's quirky-yet-sexy style, but it's a whole lot different for someone to rock a 3,000-capacity venue when, up until then, he's mostly played small, dark clubs.
Giraffage's Charlie Yin agrees, and he learned a lot on that tour, like having the confidence to make music on his own terms and being able to handle a large crowd.
He also won a lot of fans on that journey. And he even signed a deal with Fool's Gold Records. Now, he's preparing to head out on his own No Reason Tour It's not quite as immense as Worlds, but it's still a big step.
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"I've done headlining tours before, but mostly club stuff," Yin says. "We're talking to a bunch of stage designers right now to make a really tight stage set up."
If his live-show aesthetic is anything like the visuals that he brought to Worlds, it will be a kaleidoscopic swirl of Internet-era nostalgia, trippy abstraction, and all things Yin. After all, "be yourself," the DJ-producer explains, is kind of his mantra right now.
"I'm like, 'Fuck it. Fuck what people think,'" he says. "That's definitely one of the reasons I joined Fool's Gold, because I don't want a label telling me what kind of songs to make. I don't want them to expect something, then I deliver something else, and they're like, 'Oh, this sucks.'"
Hearing Yin's latest release, the five-song No Reason EP, it's tough to imagine that kind of response. It's effervescent and catchy, with grooves and samples that bring the listener back to simpler times.
The album is a departure from Giraffage's earlier work because it's almost wholly original. Known for his remixes and edits of 1990s- and 2000s-era R&B, Yin chose instead to make his samples, vocals, and hooks from scratch. In part, he wanted to avoid the arduous clearing process, but it also gave him more room to, y'know, be himself.
"Pretty much all the songs sound exactly how I want them to sound," he says. "If I was using samples of other people's stuff, I'd have to tailor the song to the sample in a way. But because it was just up to me, it's what I want."
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No Reason sounds, in a word, pretty, which might be a far cry from the metalcore songs that Yin used to write in high school. He actually got his start playing drums and guitar in all manner of rock bands, but made the switch to bedroom producer after hearing the fuzzed-out melodies that Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello cooked up as The Postal Service.
"When it first came out, I think maybe I was a sophomore in high school," he remembers. "I pirated a version of Reason, a type of music production software, and ever since then, I've just been making electronic shit. I think it was pretty crucial that I had the drum background, guitar background, and whatever, just so I knew how to put together a song, so I could focus more on production rather than songwriting."
You can hear the echoes of that influence all over the Giraffage project, but he hasn't left his varied roots behind.
"I definitely have a folder of weird club shit that's not really fit for Girrafage," he says. "I'm thinking about just making a side project on a different moniker to release these new songs, but I'm still fine tuning, still polishing up those songs, still trying to find my voice in that realm."
When Giraffage hits Miami's The Garret at Grand Central, Yin is set to play a live set of totally original material. He's bringing his buddy Spazzkid, a producer from L.A. who shares his love of lush melodies and pretty-sounding songs. It'll be good, Yin insists, because he's a perfectionist and he learned from the best.
"That's another thing I took away from the Porter tour, hearing Porter's album live," he says. "I was a big fan when I first heard it, and seeing it live really tied everything together. I think it worked because all the songs make sense with each other, and they all have a very distinct feel. I definitely want to try to achieve that as well. Just a very cohesive start-to-finish product."
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Giraffage's No Reason Tour. With Spazzkid, plus Pirate Stereo and Santiago Caballero. Presented by Poplife and Slap & Tickle. Saturday, January 17. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 11 p.m., and tickets cost $15 to $20 plus fees via ticketfly.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.
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