Yoan Lokier, the Mexican dj and producer based in Berlin, is a superstar on the rise. Her dramatic, dark, and harsh music incorporates all the best elements of EBM, post-punk, techno, trance and electro. This lovely woman is as adventurous as her sound. We had a pleasure to talk to her on the occasion of establishing her own label and releasing the fresh but already widely acknowledged EP “Preech”.
KEYI Magazine: We are interested in your journey, both geographically and career-wise. Being a musician was not something that you wanted to pursue at first.
Music started as a hobby when I was in college. I was doing my Master in Visual Communication and I had several jobs, so I started djing and producing as an escape from my daily routine. I was coming back home tired from my classes and it relaxed me. It made me happy. I always treated it seriously but I didn’t see myself as someone who could succeed in music. In Mexico I didn’t really have much support. The scene changed a lot now, but when I started over ten years ago it was different. It was small and you basically could only play if you were part of their crew. It definitely changed by now. The scene grew, there are way more opportunities and people contributing, but when I started there weren’t many options. I had some small gigs playing warm-ups for other djs, some of them international. Sometimes when I finished playing they approached me with kind words, and that was when I thought for the first time that maybe I am not that bad. I didn’t even realize that I could be seen as good. For me it was just exciting because it was my hobby, something I enjoyed doing. It was the first time when I got this kind of feedback, just the opposite of what I experienced before. There was a lot of bro energy around. I was often told I have no talent. It was not the best time for me. But I started producing anyway.
I was a very curious 21-year-old, who just started going to illegal parties and some raves. My boyfriend at the time did music and so did most of his friends. I started watching them. I asked them to teach me how to dj and my ex gave me a few tips on Ableton. The rest I just learned and figured out by myself. I still feel there are so many things I don’t know, especially when it comes to production. I feel like I just know the basics, cause I never really went to school to learn about sound engineering and audio in general. I just read stuff online.
I put some of my tracks out there and at some point I started receiving messages from people from Europe. A lot of people from Germany, France and the UK were writing to me: “You should come to play here. We love you.” I had more support in Europe than in Mexico. It was both sad and encouraging. I started talking to people online and became really good friends with them. They helped me and convinced me to move to Barcelona at first. I hesitated a lot. I had a job in Mexico, it would mean giving up my whole life. I was anxious it would not work out, so full of doubts. But it was also then when I started to make more money on djing than my other jobs, and this was a turning point when I asked myself if this could become my main work? Can I give music my full focus? I was scared. But I thought if I am to take a risk- this is the time. I was 24, maybe 25 when I did my first European tour and I told myself that if it works out, then I’m going to move. It was amazing, every gig worked out. In Mexico they never let me play the music that I like, it was considered too dark and weird. They didn’t want to take risks with an unknown dj, they were more conservative, business-driven I would say. It is different now for sure, I have lots of friends in the scene that are trying to make changes and there are a lot of cool parties going on. But at the time I was often told to change the music, stop djing. I definitely felt that they booked me a couple of times just because I was a girl. Like if I was some kind of decoration. I realize now how it was hard for me as a woman. I look at my old photos of myself djing and I notice that I was never looking sexy. I was always dressed very casually, covering my body. I was scared they would not take me seriously. It came out of a place of great insecurity because they didn’t respect me a lot of times. Even three years ago, when I already had some recognition, I played in Mexico and some guy just came into my booth and started to watch my hands. When I asked him what he was doing he said “I am checking that you do your job well.” There are still people who think there is no sexual harassment in the scene, everything is ok, women are doing amazing. And even though- yes, we have so many more opportunities, but there is still this type of people who treat you as if you don’t matter. It is not the same now, of course. Lots of people respect me and show it to me. In Mexico they treat me very well, but it took me years to earn it. And now I realize that first of all it took me years to convince myself that I am good enough. I was so brainwashed with others telling me that I am not. They basically gaslighted me, they made me doubt myself for years.
I believe that the reason for such behaviour was some kind of threat they felt. I think that at the very bottom of their hearts they knew that you are really good. You took the courageous decision for a young person to move overseas. Did you already start to feel then that the cards were turning to your advantage?
When I decided to move to Europe, I had no money. I had to sell my car. I managed to get a Polish passport, cause my mom’s family comes from Poland. In the end everything just clicked as if it was meant to be. Barcelona was my first European city. I love it and I still have lots of friends that live there whom I miss dearly. But the prose of life kicked in hard. Finding the apartment, getting insurance- it all seemed not reachable or problematic. I just felt like the city was not helping me to settle. I was also completely new in Europe, just arrived, didn’t know anyone, or which parties to go to. I had to rely on my friends most of the time and it was really hard to become independent. I always traveled a lot and Berlin was always this city I never wanted to leave. Every time I was playing here I didn’t want to leave. I was always so comfortable in it. It always made me happy. It has this vibe I love. At the time I was torn between moving here or going to London. My first agency was in London, I was dating a Londoner, my best friend lived there- everything seemed to push me towards it. But in the end Berlin was my comfort zone. I still remember when at one of my first gigs some guy asked me if I could play the darkest and weird sounds I possibly could. I immediately felt at home. When I moved here three years ago, I already knew a few people and played around. The thing about Berlin is that it is so easy to meet people, we have so much in common, the conversation pieces never end. I love all the support. I think it is a place where you can grow. There are so many opportunities to take, so many great humans to meet. People are easy to talk to. If they like your work, then they’ll give you a chance. It also has this radical equality approach that gives the same respect and attention to everyone regardless of if they are a big music star or a barkeeper. The city is so dynamic, the roles can always reverse. In the end it just means we’re all the same. All I always wanted is a space where I can be creative and do whatever I want without being constantly judged. It’s a breath.
当我决定搬到欧洲时，我没有钱。我不得不卖掉我的车。我设法拿到了波兰护照，因为我妈妈的家人来自波兰。最后，所有的事情就像命中注定一样，一拍即合。巴塞罗那是我在欧洲的第一个城市。我爱它，我还有很多朋友住在那里，我非常想念他们。但生活的暴击却狠狠地砸了过来。找公寓，买保险–这一切似乎都不是可望而不可及，也不是问题。我只是觉得这个城市并没有帮我解决。我在欧洲也是完全陌生的，刚到欧洲，谁也不认识，也不知道该去参加哪些聚会。我大部分时间都要依靠朋友，要想独立真的很难。 我总是经常旅行，而柏林一直是我所依恋的城市。每次我在这里演出的时候，我都不想离开。我在这里总是那么舒服。它总是让我很开心。它有我喜欢的这种氛围。当时我在搬到这里还是去伦敦之间徘徊。我的第一家公司在伦敦，我和一个伦敦人约会，我最好的朋友也住在那里–所有的事情似乎都把我推向了伦敦。但最终柏林是我的舒适区。我还记得在我的第一场演出中，有人问我是否能演奏最黑暗和奇怪的声音，我可能会。我立刻就有了家的感觉。 三年前搬到这里的时候，我已经认识了一些人，也玩得很开心。柏林的特点是很容易认识人，我们有很多共同点，谈话片段永远不会结束。我喜欢所有的支持。我认为这是一个可以让你成长的地方。有这么多的机会可以把握，有这么多伟大的人类可以认识。人们很容易交谈。如果他们喜欢你的工作，那么他们会给你一个机会。这里还有这种激进的平等方式，无论你是大牌音乐明星还是酒吧老板，都会给予每个人同样的尊重和关注。这个城市是如此的有活力，角色总是可以反转的。说到底，这只是意味着我们都是一样的。我一直想要的就是一个空间，在这里我可以发挥创意，做任何我想做的事情，而不需要不断地被评判。这是一种生命力。
When it comes to your style and your fascinations with the dark side of things, it is no secret that you are a horror movie fan. We are curious about your music roots though.
To be honest a lot of things are new to me. Before I was deejaying, I was definitely into rock and punk and even metal music. Me and my friends were all into that and we were going to concerts and festivals of this kind all the time. That was my background. I didn’t know anything about electronic music. My picks always depend on people I’m surrounded by, they are my influences. I discovered dark electronics long after I started djing. In Barcelona I discovered DJs who blew my mind with the idea of mixing post-punk into electronic music. Back then I didn’t even know it was a thing. But it spoke to me with this unfiltered stream of energy, shouting, distortion that felt so familiar. It was so vibrant and different from the sets I heard. I feel that I am discovering new things all the time, especially in Berlin. I don’t see myself as an expert in any genre. Even in my music I am always changing, trying out new sounds, mixing trashy with something more bright and melodic. Sometimes when I feel like there is too much darkness in my life, I need more light and playfulness to cope with it. And then I get bored and crave the darkness again. It goes in waves according to my mood. I’m balancing them out with music. And my music changes with me.
KEYI Magazine: How do you create? What is your process? And what stood behind the decision of starting your label?
I know lots of people who get inspired when they are depressed and they want to tell the story. But not me. If I’m depressed, I’m depressed. I can’t even talk, not to mention creation. I need to be motivated, have some kind of energy. For me it is all about the melodies. My music is just a blend of the genres I like, and there are so many. There is techno, trance, and wave… It is really hard to mark a report card in your own style.
I am starting my label, cause during the ongoing pandemic I realized that all my life all the work I have done I did in line with someone else’s taste. When you record for the label, everything you create is based on its character. I was doing lots of favors to my friends recording remixes and it hit me that I never do something that is a hundred percent myself. When you are sending out a demo basically your whole work boils down to waiting if someone likes it or not. I finally got this confidence to say that it is my work and if I like it- I like it. Getting to this point took me years. I still remember the day when my friend in Barcelona took me aside irritated by my constant hiding and said: “You are better than them. You need to acknowledge the talent you have”. It was the moment when I realized that maybe I really got something. Even though I never considered myself, and still don’t, superior to anyone. Last year I was completely blocked, I couldn’t work on music. I had a huge identity crisis, kept asking myself who am I really? What is the music I love? I played a lot but musically I always had this feeling that I could and should do better. I did two tracks and I didn’t think they were that great. It took me a year to release them recently, and a couple of people I admire wrote me many compliments and asked to send the tracks over to them. It was a bizarre dissonance between how I evaluated my work and how it was received by the ones for which opinion I care about the most. It was the point when I said to myself that I need to trust myself more. I am tired of having doubts, tired of others telling me how to be or sound. I had lots of confidence issues that came out of years of bringing me down, and this constant underestimation became also my very own habit. As women we are also always double judged, it is a tough position. You are never sure if the only response to you wouldn’t be a reduction to “yeah, she’s cute”. There is also lots of insinuation that women are sleeping with the men who help them out with their careers. It all makes me tired. At this time, when Corona hit us, I got tired also of darkness. I didn’t want to feel depressed. Everything started to go downhill rapidly and I needed some hope in my life not to give in. It was then when I decided that I’m just going to do music and I’m going to release it myself, work just for myself. It was an exercise in me being secure and confident about my work, pleasing me instead of others, pushing into trusting myself more, and trying to be proud of what I do. My dream was never to run a label, so it was just an impulse to release my own stuff. A platform that I am going to use to express myself. I just want to be me. That doesn’t mean of course that I won’t work with other artists or release music on other labels. I still love to learn from others and collaborate. It’s also a way to grow.
我成立了自己的厂牌，因为在目前的疫情期间，我意识到我一生所做的所有工作都是按照别人的口味来做的。当你为厂牌录音时，你所创造的一切都基于它的特性。我在给朋友录混音的时候帮了很多忙，我突然想到，我从来没有做过百分之百自己的东西。当你在发一个demo的时候，基本上你的全部工作都归结为等待别人是否喜欢。我终于有了这个信心，可以说这是我的作品，如果我喜欢它，我就喜欢它。到这一点我花了好几年的时间。我还记得有一天，我在巴塞罗那的朋友把我拉到一边，对我的不断隐瞒感到恼火，并说， “你比他们强。你需要承认你的天赋”。那一刻，我意识到，也许我真的得到了什么。尽管我从来没有认为自己比任何人优越，现在也没有。 去年我完全被封杀了，我无法从事音乐工作。我出现了巨大的身份危机，一直在问自己我到底是谁？我喜欢的音乐是什么？我玩了很多，但在音乐上我总是有这样的感觉，我可以而且应该做得更好。我做了两首曲子，但我不认为它们有多好。我花了一年的时间，最近才把它们发布出来，有几个我欣赏的人给我写了很多赞美的话，让我把这些曲目发给他们。我对自己作品的评价和我最在意哪位意见的人对我作品的评价之间是一种奇怪的不和谐。这时我对自己说，我需要更加相信自己。我已经厌倦了怀疑，厌倦了别人告诉我如何做人，如何做声。我有很多的自信问题，是多年来带给我的，这种不断的低估也成了我自己的习惯。作为女人，我们也总是被双重评价，这是一个艰难的处境。你永远不确定对你的唯一回应不会是还原成 “是啊，她很可爱”。还有很多影射女人和那些帮她们打理事业的男人上床。这一切都让我觉得很累。 此时，当科罗娜袭病毒击我们时，我也厌倦了黑暗。我不想感到沮丧。一切都开始迅速走下坡路，我需要生活中的一些希望，不要屈服。当时我就决定，我就是要做音乐，我要自己释放，只为自己工作。这是对我的一次锻炼，让我对自己的作品有安全感和自信，取悦自己而不是取悦别人，逼着我更信任自己，并努力为自己的工作感到骄傲。我的梦想从来没有经营过一个厂牌，所以这只是一个发布自己作品的冲动。一个我要用来表达自己的平台。我只是想做我自己。当然，这并不意味着我不会和其他艺术家合作，也不会在其他厂牌发行音乐。我还是喜欢向别人学习和合作。这也是一种成长的方式。
I understand that. You were trying for all these years to be a part of the scene that rejected you with so much persistence for a very long time. And, as you said, having no label or other musician’s style to refer to gives you more creative freedom and genuity. I think this is an incredible path of you becoming an independent artist. I really admire that.
Thank you I appreciate it!
The new music I’m working on has a lot of melodies. I play piano, not very well, but enough to do something, and I figured that I am just going to use it. My favorite tracks are melodic or the ones that simply have just some melody in them, something moving. That’s how I am trying to compose now, being emotional. My recent release is a bit melancholic, eclectic. I have never really done a party track, most of them are slow and trippy, so this time I was trying to do more techno, faster EP. I do trust myself more now. And when I see that what I do is working, I’m gaining confidence that there is something in my music I can be sure of. Especially when it comes to my latest EP “Preech”, which I’m truly happy with. I am starting to like what I do which took me a long time. During the beginning of the pandemic I was in Mexico, where I didn’t have my studio with all the machines. I got stuck there for a couple of months and wanted to dedicate this time to make some music. In order to work I just bought a bunch of plugins. I did two tracks with just a computer and a midi controller. Longing for some melody I incorporated some dark trance into my blend of genres. The Corona crisis put us all in a tough position, so unfortunately I couldn’t release a vinyl, but if things start to work for the label I definitely want to do one. I was concerned about releasing it in time when we have no gigs and I cannot play those songs as much as I would love to. I was also worried that people would expect a different sound from me. Still, they showed real interest in my work by putting my music in playlists and podcasts. The EP went better than I thought it would. The reception was really good and I had a lot of support. Some friends told me that they feel inspired to do the same and stand up for their music. I feel like part of the success came from the fact that I did it on my own and people appreciated that. I felt very touched and encouraged. I feel like it also opened the doors for me. Other artists, even bigger ones, were writing to me. I didn’t expect that. It was a nice surprise. It definitely gave me even more confidence to keep going, trust my sound more. I unblocked myself and started to compose again. I am not allowed to talk about the future yet, but there are some new releases coming next year.
我正在做的新音乐有很多旋律。我弹钢琴，弹得不是很好，但足以做一些事情，我想，我就是要用它。我最喜欢的曲目是旋律性的，或者是那些简单的只有一些旋律在里面的，动人的东西。这就是我现在努力创作的方式，是情绪化的。我最近发行的作品有点忧郁，不拘一格。我从来没有真正做过派对歌曲，大部分都是慢的、三段式的，所以这次我是想做更多的techno，更快的EP。我现在确实更相信自己了。当我看到我所做的事情是有效的，我获得了信心，我的音乐中有一些东西是我可以肯定的。尤其是我最新的EP《Preech》，我真的很满意。我开始喜欢我所做的事情，这让我花了很长时间。 在流行病开始的时候，我在墨西哥，在那里我没有我的工作室和所有的机器。我在那里被困了几个月，想把这段时间用来做一些音乐。为了工作，我只是买了一堆插件。我只用一台电脑和一个midi控制器做了两首曲子。憧憬着一些旋律，我把一些黑暗的恍惚融入到我的流派混合中。Corona的危机让我们所有人都处于一个艰难的境地，所以很不幸，我不能发行黑胶唱片，但如果事情开始对唱片公司有利，我肯定想发行一张。我很担心在我们没有演出的时候发行，而我又不能像我想的那样播放这些歌曲。我也担心人们会对我的声音有所期待。不过，他们还是对我的作品表现出了真正的兴趣，把我的音乐放在播放列表和播客里。 这张EP比我想象的要好。大家的反应非常好，我得到了很多支持。一些朋友告诉我，他们觉得受到了启发，也想为自己的音乐站出来。我觉得成功的部分原因是我自己做的，人们很感激。我觉得非常感动和鼓励。我觉得这也为我打开了大门。其他艺术家，甚至更大的艺术家，都在给我写信。我没有想到会这样。这是个不错的惊喜。它肯定给了我更多的信心，让我继续走下去，更相信自己的声
What’s the best compliment you got?
There’s a guy that wrote me a long message saying how much I inspired him not only with my music but as a person. He said my energy makes him happy and that the world needs more people like me. That message meant a lot.
Do you have any word for women who want to start a career in music? What kind of advice can you give them?
First of all, trust yourself even if a lot of people tell you you are wrong. Don’t listen to anyone else. I wish I had someone to tell me that. All the kindness I got from the fellow djs, especially the ones I admire, definitely helped a lot to overcome my shyness. If someone important to you tells you that you are good it nurtures your confidence, you start believing it is true. Listen to compliments, feedback, and valuable critique. They will help you grow. Some people are luckier, and sometimes it takes time. Be patient. If you are passionate about something just follow your instincts. If you are passionate about music- keep working. If you do what you love and you keep going at some point things will work out for you. I truly believe that.
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