Yaroze Dream Suite are an exciting new production duo composed of Mr. Mitch (Miles Mitchell) and Yamaneko (Joe Moynihan). Following on from a stunning mix uploaded earlier this year, their new s/t EP is out now on Local Action. It's a wonderful, immersive record that taps into deep emotional reservoirs and plays on strong musical contrasts. It feels of a piece with some of the 'weightless' music certain grime-led producers have been exploring recently, but a much more peaceful take compared to, say, Rabit or Mumdance. And always led by melody. There's even a lead vocal on one song - Hannah Mack on late night lament 'In the Moonlight' - but voices seem to haunt the rest of the EP like spirits in a jar.
Together, Mr. Mitch and Yameneko are influenced by lullabies, soundtracks, video game sounds, ambient music and new age cassettes, all of which have fed into this project. I catch up with the pair over the phone while they're in the Dream Suite - sorry, their studio - and the first thing I want to know is where the name comes from?
Joe: "The Net Yaroze was a DIY Playstation that Sony put out [in 1997] so that people at home could make their own games. Both Miles and I started making tunes on game software like eJay, so the name felt like a nice throwback to that sort of mentality. But 'yaroze' also means 'let's do it together', and this is the first collaborative project that either me or Miles have done with anyone."
Miles: "I know exactly what I want to get out of tunes, but I didn't find there was a conflict in working with Joe. I've been in the studio with other producers before and it's never come to anything, but this is the first time I've been happy with what's coming out."
J: "Yeah, same for me. Any previous collaborations I've done would just be sending stems over - I enjoyed working with all those people and still do, but it's a different sort of collaboration. This one felt very involved, very together."
It's clear the two have a mutual admiration. Miles reckons Yamaneko's Pixel Wave Embrace was his favourite album of 2014, and Joe points to Mr. Mitch's series of Peace Edits - an inventive inversion of grime's aggressive war dubs - as hugely influential for his style of production. Miles responds by saying that he was surprised at the positive response those edits got, but that it spurred him on to explore that weird world and make tunes for himself, rather than for other people. I want to know about the similarities in your approach to making music?
J: "Maybe contrasting hard and soft sounds... like, big fuck off kick drums and then a small music box melody. They seem to fit really well together. And from the off we wanted the EP to have two distinct sides - a dreamy side and a nightmarish side - so always working with contrasts."
M: "With melodies we definitely hear the same kind of things. Joe has got a great ear, he'll draw stuff from some game I've never heard of, like 'I've got the sample from this Amiga tune back in '88!'"
J: "Miles complements that very well because he's a very talented musician. In out first studio session we were just playing around with a couple of tunes, and then Miles gets on the fucking ivories and james out some of the most beautiful loops in the space of a few minutes."
I have to ask Joe - regardless of the music, which games were most important for you growing up? Of course, he takes it right back to music almost instantly...
"Ah, fuck knows man. So many. My first console was the Sega Master System, so the early Sonic games on that... to be honest, I was immediately taken by the tunes more than anything else. The thing about the Sega Master System - which I think really contributed to how we did the Yaroze stuff - was that the PAL version ran at a different frame rate to the Japanese and US versions, so the music was all chopped and screwed essentially! It was being made at 160bpm and sounded bonkers, but I played it at 120 which brought out all the melody. That's what we did with a lot of these tunes, we'd write with 120 in mind - sort of 8-bar grime structures - but slow it right down and get as much out of each melody as possible."
I'm wondering about the project as it relates to the instrumental grime scene, which both producers are closely associated with despite the fact that their music seems to skirt the edges of that sound. Miles has always stated in interviews that he sees everything he makes as grime, no matter how far removed from the envelope. So is it all to do with the context, and is there a line when it becomes not grime?
M: "I'm not really that stuck on genres. It's just a standard answer that feels embedded in me when people ask what I make. Grime is what I know, and what I've been making since I was a kid. Music changes, and I don't have an opinion on whether people decide to call it a different genre or whatever, they can call it what they like. I never try to make grime... I never try to make anything, I just make it, and grime is a label that I'm happy to be around."
What about the EP artwork? Courtesy of talented designer Rachel Noble, whose work you'll recognise from Local Action, Lit City Trax, Astral Black, and loads of other labels.
J: "We were very specific... in our heads we knew exactly how we wanted it to turn out. We developed it over quite a long time and it went through various ideas, and eventually it came out fucking amazing. Big up Rachel, she's very very good. And yeah, a lot of her work taps into a digital sort of aesthetic, and this felt very different, but she just rose to the challenge. We wanted it to be peeking into a dream world. It's a bit mystical and, without actually saying what they are, it captured a lot of the concepts we were thinking about while putting the EP together."
Talk drifts to the pair's other projects - specifically their forthcoming solo albums. Yamaneko's is all wrapped and coming out on Local Action in a couple of months ("another winter album, always seems to work that way"). Unsurprisingly, given that he has such a firm grip what he wants his music to sound like, it's rooted in a lot of the same ideas as Pixel Wave Embrace, although "less instantly welcoming... a little bleaker and darker."
Mr. Mitch's is almost done and should be coming out sometime in 2017, but there's also the matter of his own imprint, Gobstopper. It's been relatively inactive this year, bar a pair of stellar EPs from Loom and Odeko that present very different facets of the label's output. Miles admits that he's found it very hard to find music that he likes enough to put out, although he does now have the next (super secret) release lined up.
"I get sent a lot of material, and most of it sounds exactly like stuff I've already put out. That's not what I'm looking for. But I mean, I used to do it myself - everything I made back in 2009 was me trying to put out more stuff on Butterz, so it was tailored to their sound."
How did you manage to make that jump from making music for other people to making music for yourself?
"Boxed was the catalyst for it; a space where we could just play music, however weird it was, and people would be there to appreciate it. Wherever it's dark and there's a good system and people willing to come down, we're happy."
Very much in the spirit of FWD>> then. Miles has also got a hand in the label arm of Boxed - now on its third v/a 12" - where it's all about community spirit and the aim is "just to support producers that we're into and keep bringing new names through while supporting the established ones."
You can catch Mr. Mitch and Yamaneko at Peckham's Bussey Building next month, playing b2b sets with JD. Reid and India Jordan respectively. Oh, and then there's the rest of the lineup - Mumdance, Marcus Nasty, UNiiQU3, Sir Spyro, Spooky, Teki Latex, Riz La Teef and a dozen other DJs from the Boxed and Local Action camps and beyond. Miles says they wanted it to feel like an old school rave lineup, and it's certainly stacked... so yeah, I'll let you salivate over that.
Yaroze Dream Suite is out now on Local Action, order it here.
Boxed x Local Action takes place 4th Nov at the Bussey Building, tickets available here.