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Yury, No. 08

Get to know this Belarus-born artist and producer residing in Brooklyn.

“I’m just a dude who’s lived in many countries,” the Belarus-born Brooklyn resident tells me. Chicken and waffles are an all-time favorite food, he wouldn't mind eventually owning a BMW i8, and alcoholically he enjoys a high-quality gin or vodka with soda water and lime (especially at a friend’s place before an event or at a chill lounge). He describes his sonic style as dark and boundary-pushing, and I’d agree; his songs work as both lay-up line music and an adventure-horror movie soundtrack. His lyrical delivery is fast, and it sometimes sounds like he’s tripping over his own slurred words. “Whatever you’re believing in, it’s probably true. Only one you’re deceiving is probably you,” he emotes on “Growing Pains,” his earliest and most played SoundCloud track (with just under 170k listens). Other lyrics range from “time is money don’t spend that shit” to “run this dumb shit, fuck this function” to “really working, I got shit to prove - tunnel vision, I got shit to do.” This last lyric in particular aptly describes his overarching style: Yury makes music that sounds like he’s got shit to prove. His strong-willed beats seem to provoke his lyrics, and his lyrics in turn galvanize his production. (If astrology means anything to you, note that he’s a Scorpio.)


A flock of jetblack, CGI’d crows fly at him and at us several times in his “Bend” music video (incidentally uploaded by a channel named FCK THEM). (His "1984" video also opens with birds.) The "Bend" video in particular is an otherwise fast-paced Computer Age kaleidoscope with Yury as the focal point. His long, luscious hair flows back and forth as he sways to his song (he’s featured, by the way, in a “white dudes who look like they like rap” Spotify playlist). Antithetical to the brooding, fuck-you assertiveness of his sonic style is the sensitivity, benevolence, and ultimate peace of his general online presence and especially visual content. One of Walt Whitman’s most known and accessible poetic assertions comes to mind in addressing this apparent contradiction (how can someone who makes stormy music feel like a peaceful presence elsewhere on the Internet?): “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself; (I am large, I contain multitudes).” Here’s Yury.


Who are you?


I’m Yury. An artist and producer.


Are you from Brooklyn?


I moved to NYC almost 3 years ago.


Do you anticipate eventually departing from NY?


If it makes sense. I currently see it unfolding with me flying to different cities to work, but maintaining primary residence here.


Favorite place(s) you’ve lived?


I think every place I’ve lived made sense at the time. I’m grateful to have been born in Belarus, I had a brief stint in Israel, Toronto was cool for my childhood, then a brief stint in Arkansas for my mom’s work, Pittsburgh was perfect for high school because it was inner city but not crazy like NYC. And now NYC makes sense.


I like that, living somewhere that makes sense. Would you say you have a dream residence both geographically and architecturally?


A 2-story loft with high windows and greenery all around. Within the heart of the city, but isolated sound-wise.


When did you start making music?


I started writing as a kid, went to studios starting in college, then began taking it very seriously once I graduated.


What kind of equipment were you using when just starting out?


A laptop and some cheap speakers.


How old were you when you first started writing?


First lyrics at age 10. First serious writing around age 18/19.


Do you remember any of your first lyrics?


I remember using the words “high-fidelity” in one of the bars which I was hype about using back then at age 10. I remember it being in a small red fake-leather notebook. Probably in my room. With a pen. I felt like pencil wasn’t enough.


What did you study in college?


Communications & rhetoric after dropping finance. I also went to grad school for audio recording & production.


Do you recommend college for readers looking to pursue a path like yours?


I’d say go to school for something that will give you a tangible benefit in this industry, but only if you don’t acquire debt to do so. My path is brutal, and I only recommend it for those people who, like me, just know that regardless of how things in life go, they’re going to be an artist. So it’s, make it as artist and make sure there’s no exception.


I’m guessing this inescapability of your artistry is why you make music at all?


Yep. It’s the only consistent thing in my life that makes sense.


Are any of your family members artists?


My father is a poet and painter.


Have you ever felt inclined to paint?


Nah, I suck at it. I would love to expand my clothing designing and sneakers at some point.


What else do you consider yourself to be besides a musician?


Still figuring that out. I try my best to be a good person and improve the lives of my loved ones.


Do you intend to segue into other genres and styles eventually?


Always.


Any in particular?


A lot more electronic subgenres and writing for more mainstream artists.


What kind of music do you listen to?


Mainly obscure electronic music, and some of the more experimental trap music.


Who are some of your biggest influences, inspirations, idols?


Justice, Crystal Castles, Nietzsche.


A trusty trio. Any favorite works in particular?


Cross by Justice, CC1 by Crystal Castles, and Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch.


What were you like as a kid? When did your musical inclinations start making themselves apparent to you?


I was always energetic, always felt like an outsider because I moved during the most formative years: age 2, age 5, halfway through 5th, grade, and right before high school started. I could sense that I gravitated towards music around age 8 or 9.


Did you frequently move because of parents’ job relocations?


We moved because I was born in Belarus during the USSR and then that collapsed, so we moved for different opportunities.


Do you remember any specific music gravitation instances? Like, while watching MTV music videos or hearing a street performer?


I do vividly remember seeing the Canadian channel MuchMusic playing both Daft Punk’s “Around the World” and Biggie’s “Dead Wrong,” so those have always stuck with me.


Do you perform live?


When the right opportunities arise.


Do you have a dream venue?


An intimate one of 200-300 diehard fans who truly connect with my message and sound. Really high quality sound system, great sound acoustics.


How has the Internet helped you become to the Yury that we can listen to and learn about online today?


Accessibility.


Do you have anything else to say about the Internet aside from how you’ve musically leveraged it?


It’s one of the best and worst things to happen to society.


How so?


Extreme accessibility for all, both artistically and financially speaking, and extreme oversaturation as well.


Why Yury?


It’s my real name. I’ve never used any others, Yury always felt right.


You have your own studio. Did you establish and finance it yourself, autonomously building it from the ground up?


Yup. It just happened organically over the years.


What’s your daily routine look like?


Wake up around 7am, go to the gym, come back, shower, coffee, then music and music-related things until 6/7pm. Then relax (although I’m always sending emails, making calls, texts, etc. It’s a 24/7 gig which i don’t mind).


How do you take your coffee?


Lots of unsweetened almond milk.


What do you want your 2019 daily routine to look like?


The same as now, with a few more collaboration opportunities.


And your 2059 routine?


Also the same. Just newer technology and a different leisurely environment.


Do you consider yourself to be an adrenaline junkie?


Definitely not. I like some rollercoasters but fear heights to an extent.


Have you had any particularly harrowing experiences with heights?


I’ve had a few experiences with terrible plane turbulence.


Pen caps are to me as bones are to dogs, and I dance alone nearly daily in my room between 11 PM and 7 AM. Do you have any similar idiosyncratic habits?


I have a lot of OCD tendencies, mainly has to do with numbers and procedure.


How have you worked through your OCD tendencies?


I've turned them into strengths. Knowing that I obsess over details, I've made sure to obsess over an important project instead of how my bookshelf is organized. Besides that, I’ve just learned to not be so hard on myself about it.


What were some of the first important projects you really focused on?


After graduating from college, I spent a couple years making a lot of music, just kept going and going. I spent a lot of time just sitting at my laptop trying random stuff for years, watching the dots connect. And then once I finished grad school, the first project I did was my first fully self-produced, written, mixed, engineered, and mastered project. That definitely set a new precedent for me.


What, if anything, do you have to say to the kids?


Chase your dreams, but be realistic about it. Don’t lie to yourself, because that’s the worst mindset and won’t achieve anything.


What’s your life outlook? Are we living in a fundamentally meaningless and chaotic universe? Are we the sole authors of our destinies?


I’m pretty existential, so the answer is yes to both those questions. I focus on achieving the most in life without getting in the way of anyone else’s pursuits.


How did you arrive at this perspective?


Lots of nights spent thinking and overthinking about purpose.


Did anyone or anything in particular help to shape it?


I read a lot of self-help books. (For anyone who wants to go down that route, I suggest finding an author who’s lived a life you’re actually aspiring to have or can connect to somehow.) And the movie Donnie Darko for sure. It didn’t answer anything, but it shifted my thought process on some things.


Do you have anything to say regarding God, parallel universes, a spiritual afterlife? Do human beings have a soul?


I believe that God is whatever caused us to exist, be definition. So although I don’t have the how/why, I do believe the because is by definition God. It’s an abstract, and could be the Big Bang, or could be something we’ve yet to really fathom.


Are you interested in astronomy, cosmology, physics, in a big way?


Not really. I appreciate the value of science, so I find certain esoteric things interesting at times.


Do you remember your earliest memory (or one of the earliest) contemplating purpose?


When I was 7 and walking near a cemetery. I asked a friend’s mom what happens after a person’s death. Like, is it nothing going on forever? And her reply - which I’d say was a pretty good response to a 7 year old - was, “Good people think about those things.”


Yury is on Spotify and Instagram.


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By Cloude