Berkeley Producer Yalls on Music from Video Games, New EP "The Voice," and more
How did you spend your summer vacations as a kid? Many of mine were spent in a cool, dank Midwestern basement playing video games to escape from the soaring heat. Same with Berkeley-based electronic, experimentalist dude, Yalls, aka Dan Casey. He recalls Sonic the Hedgehog as not only being entertaining, it had some of the best sound effects and melodies ever. His E.P. The Voice has been out for almost a month, and it bumps in a way that will make you emerge from any basement and soak up the summer-like weather we’ve been experiencing.
The Voice EP has been out for a few weeks now. Congrats on a fine work. The last two tracks are the ones I’ve been repeating the most and they end things on a high note. Why don’t we start there?
At about a minute in, “Life of the Party” introduces what sounds like a nickel slot machine hitting the jackpot. The sound later repeats and becomes unrelenting, but is almost victorious when it achieves its full potential.
Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for the types of sounds you use?
I mainly use synths and drum machines, combined with different effects to create most of the sounds. I usually use my voice, but for the most recent stuff I’ve been sampling mostly other people singing. That particular sound was just a synth I think, probably chosen because it reminded me of Sonic [The Hedgehog]!
Do you let friends listen to your works while in progress?
Occasionally, but not too much. Sometimes the first time anyone else hears a new song is at a show. Towards the end of the process it's good to get engineer friends to listen to the mix, but I'm not looking for too much feedback.
“Dim Touch” builds an incredible amount of tension in a short amount of time. The release comes in that climactic, bouncing sound. You’ve sequenced the sound very well. Do you always have your audience in mind or is creating more of a thing you do for yourself?
I just tried to make the energy flow alright. These were all written kind of randomly and there is no narrative connecting them so I just let it flow. I am always writing for myself and stay with something as long as I enjoy it.
There aren’t many lyrics on this project. That’s common in electronic music. Is simply creating sounds an adequate way of expressing yourself?
From the start, Yalls was just about impulses and indulging in curiosities. I sang a lot on the first album, a little bit on the second, and none on this one, but I’ll sing again. I just wasn't interested these past few months.
Did you play video games? Any sounds or theme songs that stuck with you?
Like I mentioned, Sonic, which along with many classic Sega/SNES [Super Nintendo] games I played had an amazing soundtrack. Sonic especially was shimmering and futuristic. The sounds may have stuck with me, but I really like the melodies too. One of my friends thought I played JRPGs [Japanese Role Playing Game] based on my melodies, but I didn't really play too many of those. Maybe I should.
Aren’t you from the East Coast?
Yeah I’m from New Jersey originally and moved to the Bay like five years ago.
How’s the Bay Area music scene treating you? What influences are you soaking up here?
It's definitely treated me well and there is an amazing music community. The biggest influences are naturally my friends, as they turn me on to new gear, songs, and techniques. Two bands I've recently played with that blew me away were Tanlines and Young Magic. I'm lucky enough to get asked to play with people I’d pay to see (if I left the house), so it works out.
Any upcoming shows or projects we should know about?
Playing in Sacramento on May 13 with Kisses and then the first Steezy [Ray Vibes] show will be on June 23rd at Brick and Mortar with Monster Rally and Shortcircles. Finishing and releasing the Steezy record, news on that soon. Working on new Yalls stuff, but as it's always really led by impulse, so I’m just waiting to discover something new.