Youngr plays music with a crazy charisma. His vocal delivery is effortlessly cool, and so is the way he seamlessly switches instruments, building songs layer by layer in real time with exuberance.
"When I'm onstage, I like to have as much fun as I can and spread energy across the room," he says. "If somebody from the audience goes home and picks up an instrument and writes a song, that's dope."
Youngr (real name Dario Darnell) is a London-based songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist. While chatting with New Times ahead of his set at Floyd Tuesday, February 13, Darnell says he used to play with his brother as the electro-pop duo Picture Book but decided to strike out on his own about two years ago. He had an ambitious vision for the stage show: Rather than playing along with recorded tracks as they had in Picture Book, he would produce each sound by himself with live instruments — an unusual move for an electronic musician.
Bringing the show to life was a mammoth technical achievement. Darnell locked himself up for about six months, usually working from noon until the early-morning hours and foregoing social interactions as he nailed down the live setup for which he's become famous.
"It didn't feel like a long time while I was doing it," he recalls. "I was learning so much and it was really inspiring, a really magical journey. It was just me and the looping. I found that people just love percussion — things that are loud, bright and rhythmical — and a good song. There's nothing better than playing a good song live."
During his highly involved solo sets, Darnell loops live synthesizers, guitars, bass, drums, auxiliary percussion, and his vocals to create superpolished electro-R&B club bangers. It makes for a visually engaging set.
"There's nothing better than live instruments when you're playing a show," Darnell says. "But it's also amazing when you go see a DJ and there's a big light show and pounding dance music or whatever. I'm trying to merge the two worlds, you know?"
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Now hailed by some tastemakers as a future star, Youngr is selling out shows from Kazakhstan to Guatemala. His singles (including "Out of My System") are racking up millions of streams on services such as Spotify, and his collaborations have included high-profile peers such as EDM heavyweight Steve Aoki.
But for all the attention Darnell's one-man-band shtick has garnered, he'd actually like to play with other people again.
"I wouldn't say I like playing alone," he says. "Playing alone is something I started doing because it's the easiest, it's the cheapest, and it's the most convenient. And, you know, it's kind of gimmicky. I much prefer the band onstage." And he still considers himself a songwriter above all else. "I absolutely love the act of songwriting and love what a song can do — how chords, lyrics, and melodies can make you feel."