March 11, 2011

Southern-Fried ElectroPsych Tunes

Yppah—that’s “happy” spelled backwards—is a guy by the name of Joe Corrales Jr., a multi-instrumentalist/beatmaker/jack-of-all-trades who crafts cinematic instrumentals that blend acoustic instruments with synthesizers and loops, building a self-contained world of music in five minutes or less. Recently, Yppah has blown up and has had his music featured on major network television shows, among other places. We recently chatted with him about his writing and recording process, and how the idea of “selling out” doesn’t make sense to him.

I heard you started out playing guitar in bands when you were a kid before switching to DJing–did the two different kinds of music inform each other at all? Like, do you think being in rock groups influenced your turntabling?
Not in particular. Well, definitely not at first. Though I’ve always been in to various types of music when I started out DJing I would mainly mix hip hop or drum and bass. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I started to try and mix genres, which is what influenced my earliest production. After I hit my peak with my interest in DJing, I brought out the guitar again and started producing with that and samples scratched from my records I had been collecting.

What is your recording process like? Do you play all the instruments yourself in-studio, or do you work with your band?
All the production on the albums is about 95 percent me. I’ve had friends and family sit in on songs here and there. My sister did a bit of flute on a song for my latest album. As far as my recording process goes, it’s very unorganized. I probably should really find a better system, but as of right now it just consist of me recording myself playing different instruments, layering, listening, scrapping the parts I don’t like, then layering some more. Once I feel like I have a solid base I arrange and try to find places in the song to make interesting changes and add details. Some songs will sit for months, where others come together in a matter of hours or days. Sometimes I have to just take a break completely because I have no idea what I even want to do. I have so many directions I want to take my project sometimes I forget how to sound like me and I have to step back for a while.

Texas is associated a lot more with country music and rock than shoegaze and beat-based stuff. Is there a scene down in Houston that I don’t know about, or are you pretty much just doing your own thing by yourself?
Not here in Houston as far as I know. There’s a big electronic/beat music scene growing in San Antonio and Austin. A friend of mine who goes by Mexicans with Guns has been putting out a lot of music right now that seems to be gaining some popularity. Everything here in town seems to be either dubstep DJs, or party rock DJs. All the bands are mainly indie rock or typical rock type bands. I’m sort of just in the middle. I think I like it that way. It would be nice to find some like-minded people to produce with though.

What has it meant for you personally to have your music featured in some films and TV shows? Is that exciting for you, or do you shrug it off?
Yeah, it’s definitely exciting. I’m not the type of dude who’s going to sit and say that I feel like people are selling out if they license their music to a commercial, or television show. I have heard/talked to a few people with reservations about things like that. It doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, I love when I hear some decent music on TV, or on a movie trailer and want to rush to the computer to find out what it is. Plus it pays the bills. Anyone who tells you they don’t want to make money off their music is either lying or already rich. I mean. How else are we supposed to support ourselves and have the time to create more music? I love that it’s a great way to reach a broader audience. It makes me feel validated that someone appreciated my music enough to feel like it would enhance what they were creating. I used to tell myself that I didn’t care about that and just made music for me, but as I get older I realize a small part of me really feeds off of the listener’s input. I like being able to make people feel something when they hear a piece of music I’ve written.

Have you done any soundtrack work for films at all? It seems like it’d be a somewhat natural thing for you to do. Are you interested in doing that kind of stuff?
No I haven’t, but I would love to. When I started producing that was really kind of the main thing I wanted to do. I mean, I like making albums, but I was really hoping to get in to scoring movies and such. If the opportunity ever presents itself I will definitely jump at the chance to do it.

What directions do you see your music evolving in next?
I will probably just keep exploring the sound I’ve found myself creating from the last 2 albums. I think I’ve finally got a handle on what I think “Yppah” should sound like. The album I’m working on now will be a mixture of what I liked best from my first and second albums, with a touch of some newly found influences. I have to be pretty general because I can never be sure how its going to sound. I’ve also started a handful of other projects to feed my need to do other styles of music, but as of right now all that stuff is just for me, but who knows…. It definitely won’t be released as Yppah if any of it does come out.


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