“If You’re in This Business for Money Instead of Passion, It Will Quickly Become Obvious” – An Exclusive Conversation with Yves V

These days, Yves V is on the #SaveTheSummer mission. The initiative urges festivalgoers and general social media audiences to take the necessary COVID-19 precautions, so that a summer of music, travel, and parties can happen at all. It’s a sensible cause if there ever were one. Before the wide-spread lockdown, we managed to steal Yves away for a couple of minutes to discuss his IDMA nomination, his creative process, and more.
Passion, Collabs, and Learning: Exclusive Talk with Yves V
Sara Mekinc

Yves V has been described as an “Electro hotshot”, and not without cause. The Dance powerhouse’s CV boasts such accomplishments as being the first Belgian DJ to enter DJ Mag’s Top 40, playing Tomorrowland since it was first launched (that’s 15 years, for those not counting), and throwing out successful remixes of A-listers such as Missy Elliot and Timbaland. His 2019 summer hit “We Got That Cool”, which samples Crystal Waters’ legendary “Gypsy Woman”, brought him an IDMA nomination for Best Dance Song. Getting names like that on board definitely requires ambition and enthusiasm, and Yves V apparently has both in spades. 

First off, congratulations on your IDMA nomination. Your track was a summer hit, and even Crystal Waters posted it on her Facebook page, saying: “I’m not mad at this one, it’s got my full support #GypsyWomanLivesAgain". How did that recognition make you feel?

Thank you! It felt amazing, I was just so excited that we fully had their support, and that everyone involved really enjoyed the final track. Recognition from other artists – especially when you’re trying to honor an original – is always important, and the reaction from the fans has been better than we could have imagined!

Can you imagine listening to this song while spending the summer INDOORS?

This year’s Dance nominees are all collabs. How do you select and approach artists you’d like to collaborate with? Does the idea for the track come first, or do your ever think “oh man, I’d love to work with her/him, let’s see if I can adapt to that”?

It varies, but usually it’s very organic. For this track, it was a little of both: Afrojack is a buddy of mine, and I got to work with the Icona Pop girls for the first time. Usually, even if I don’t know the artist personally, I simply reach out and ask if they want to hit the studio together some time, or if they’d like to jam out ideas. Every collaboration and each release have the potential to be a learning curve, so I always stay positive. 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you? What are your plans for the period without live gigs, and do you have any advice for homebound artists out there?

It’s difficult for all artists right now, particularly touring artists. We’ve all had a lot of gigs and festivals canceled, including major events like Tomorrowland Winter and Ultra, which was unheard of until now. This goes to show just how crazy things got – and that we must act. The summer festival season is the busiest period of the year for DJs, producers, artists and bands. If we act now, we can save what is often the best months of the year for everyone, and really help the industry recover from this. In the meantime, try and keep aroutine as much as you can, don’t stop making music, use this time to connect more with your fans and loved ones, and remain optimistic!

“The summer festival season is the busiest period of the year for DJs, producers, artists and bands. If we act now, we can save what is often the best months of the year for everyone and really help the industry recover from this.”

We found an interview where you said you listened to bands such as Pearl Jam and Green Day as a teenager. Do you play with sampling those bands in your music too, or are there any “untouchables”, any artists, bands or songs that your inner teenager wouldn’t want you to change? 

I've never thought of it like that! I understand why some people would get “elitist” and think of some tracks as “untouchable”, but I think that as long as you pay respect to the track, get approval from all parties, and create something with great intent, it’s coming from a positive place. 

In his spare time, Yves is busy coaching the next generation of festival-goers. 
Source: Instagram

You’re also known for visually engaging videos, from colourful animated ones to live action. Where do you draw the inspiration and ideas from? What stories would you like to leave behind?

It’s often a combination of ideas from those involved. Take a look at my collaboration with KSHMR and Krewella, “No Regrets”. We wanted the video to be emotive, but also powerful, so we played with shadows, beams of light, and certain darker shades to achieve that, without making it seem gloomy or sad. Pushing up the fun levels with bright colours, or capturing certain emotion or empathy: those are the stories I want to create.

Any story you come up with should reflect the track in its fullest, explains Yves V.

Let’s talk Tomorrowland. People came to know you as both the festival’s resident and the V-Sessions stage host, and the relationship has lasted an impressive 15 years now. How has this “partner” of yours changed throughout the years, in your view?

I’m the only artist to have played on the main stage every year since the festival’s inception, and to be a core team member is such an amazing feeling. I’m proud to see it get bigger and better each year. I always say that there's no festival like it, and everyone should visit at least once! 

“I want to bring happiness with what I do, and to me, that is the most important measure of success.”

Today’s artists are expected to be entertainers off-stage as well, meaning they should produce attractive videos and everyday social media posts. How important are social media to you, and how do you feel about success being measured in chart positions and follower numbers? 

That’s down to the individual artist, but I think if any producers or musicians are in it for the money and not solely for the passion, that will very quickly be obvious and the art will suffer. To me, success means creating music that I’m 100% behind, that my team and I believe in, and that fans and audiences can enjoy. 

Cover photo: Artist’s archive

To track which music festivals have been postponed or canceled, go to Sickfestivals.com

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Sara Mekinc

Sara Mekinc

Content Specialist at Viberate
Avid concert-goer, a sucker for creative wordsmithery, and 100 % biodegradable. Google "melomaniac".