Interview by Shannon Lawlor
Woo York are an electronic-techno duo currently based in Kiev, Ukraine. Since 2009, their unique blend of atmospheric electronica and darkened techno has been turning heads and dropping jaws alike since their first release, but it wasn’t until 2017’s Frozen Lake and Alien Worlds EPs released via Semantica Records & Dystopian, respectively, gained the pair the consistent following and fanbase they so clearly deserve.
Following an impressive back catalogue containing numerous singles, mixes and EPs, on May 4th 2018, Woo York will release their highly anticipated debut LP Chasing The Dream via Afterlife, encompassing on the three year long creative process they have evidently poured all heart and soul into.
We caught up with Woo York on the new album, studio-crusades and Kiev’s thriving music scene:
For anyone foreign to Woo York’s sophisticated hypnotism, how would you personally describe the music you produce?
Deep, dark and melodic with slow-burning acid lines and cinematic pads. Melancholic – sometimes with romance and flair.
Woo York’s highly anticipated upcoming LP, Chasing The Dream will be released on May 4th via Afterlife. Could you detail the album’s recording process, and how it may have differed to recording 2012’s Alien Worlds EP?
The album is a result of the creative impulses associated with different life circumstances. These events, which occur in the life of each of us, are pushing us to ideas, creation and writing of musical compositions. Most of the album material was the result of work on the concert program with improvisations persisted in midi melodies and various ideas, which we performed live. As a result, a sufficient amount of material was accumulated. This prompted us to think that out of all we can record it in a full-album. Several months of work in the studio and the material was recorded in full-fledged musical compositions. Next, we selected the tracks that were made earlier and put together of this whole piece of music under the general name of Chasing The Dream.
There is a fair amount of collaborating going on in the world of Woo York – but if you could both settle on that one dream collaboration, who would it be with? And why?
Actually we do not collaborate with other producers at the moment production-wise. We are focused on joint cooperation between us and it fully takes our effort. In an ideal world, if we could choose any artist it would be early Plastikman.
Could you describe the music scene in your hometown of Kiev? How does it compare to performing in other parts of the world, or even your own country?
Now it is a new stage in the heyday of the electronic scene. In Kiev have formed new music venues. There are new parties and festivals.
Note the Art-Club Closer. In the walls of which besides regular performances of local and foreign artists, festivals are also held. There is Strichka Festival, and the festival of progressive and experimental music Next Sound. As well as this, we note the festival Ostrov in which we have been participating for several years. And also we want to mention the Kiev parties Cxema which lean heavily on local artists. All this contributes to the development and emergence of new artists in Ukraine.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the electronic music industry? And if there was anything you could do to change or improve it, where would you start?
It would be cool if electronic industry had more people that perform their own music, being original with their productions. The point is that almost everybody nowadays plays “the same”, sometimes it’s hard to understand what DJ is playing as it’s all the similar things round-and-round. As for us, in an ideal world each artist should have his own, unique style and each should shift in lineups which will help the audience experience something different.
Are there any particular pieces of equipment, instruments, hardware or software that you feel is absolutely essential in creating Woo York’s signature, style-drenched sound?
When we were recording the album, we did not follow the framework of a certain genre. We like the world of electronic music, which has spawned a large number of genres and sub-genres. Of course for us techno is the starting point of our creativity. But in the process of writing our own compositions, we came to our own set of musical techniques. Taking as a basis classical analog machines SH-101, TB-303, TR-808/909, JP08 and combined this classic sound with new technologies of computer synthesis. Using a computer sequencer and a complex chain of effects, we created our own recognisable sound.
While performing, how well do you feel Woo York’s recorded music translates into a live-setting? Is there room for improvisation, or do you prefer to play it safe?
We always improvise a lot! All the main parts of our tracks are in midi-patterns that we use to synthesise on the fly using the instruments that we tour with. For example, the drama section is fully programmed live during the performance. All acid-parts are also played live. The sequencer for JP-08, MAM MB33 and x0xbox is NI Maschine. Using a midi-controller with drum pads, we can write a new midi-part on the fly. We can also use VST instruments and with the help of encoders, modulate all the necessary parameters. All this gives huge freedom for improvisation during our live performances.
Care to name some of Woo York’s personal favourite release of the year so far?
Talking about our own music, we can mention that it was Frozen Lake EP on Semantica Records and Alien Worlds EP on Dystopian. We are not DJ’s, and we do not follow much for the other artist and releases of other labels rather than the short circle of fellow artist from friendly groups, so basically all the time we spend on music – we actually spend creating it, rather then looking for it. Nevertheless, from the last things that got into our field of vision, there are some nice albums by DJ Healer and Nils Frahm.
Besides the anticipation of your new LP, what does the future hold for Woo York?
We integrate and configure several new synthesisers to our live setup and record new compositions. We have some secret weapon tracks ideas which we already perform from time to time in our live sets, but we took them for later and as soon as it will be right time we will record and release it.
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