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AYU (UA) [Interview]

21 min read

AYU (UA) - melodic techno/progressive house/indie dance duo. From 2021 guys united to show their vision of Ukrainian electronic music. This project is not only about DJing, it's about creating something new and unique.

Currently residents of such labels as Black Hole, Timeless Moment, Dear Deer, Area Verde, Organic Tunes, Beatfreak, Synergy. Tracks and remixes are regularly supported by best DJs and producers around the world - John Digweed, David Guetta, Korolova, Cosmic Gate, Gareth Emery and many others. This week finds AYU making their debut on Muse Department with the much anticipated 'Tum Tak', a track co-produced with vocalist Yura Baykonur

Progressive Astronaut caught up with AYU (UA) to learn more about the release of 'Tum Tak’, growing up in the Ukraine, influences, DJing and more. Enjoy.

Hi Guys, thanks for joining us. How has your start to the year been so far and please tell us something interesting about your day today?

Hi, thank you for the invitation, the year has started intensely, a lot of studio work. We are currently working on new stuff, and you will hear it soon. The day started like a normal Sunday, with family and friends, relaxing

How did growing up in the Ukraine influence your music taste and direction into the industry? Or did it all?

We have been in the music industry for over 10 years. We used to work in Trance/Progressive styles, but 4 years ago we decided to change our sound a little bit, as we wanted to try our hand at a new style of music and got good feedback from our works. Also more gigs, as  Melodic Techno/Indie Dance and Progressive House are more popular in Ukraine.

How did you guys meet and eventually start collaborating? And what musical projects were involved in prior to AYU (UA)?

We've known each other for a long time, as we used to perform at the same parties. Due to the Covid pandemic, the club industry was put on hold and we decided to devote more time to studio work. Since we have the same tastes in music, we thought, why not try to make something together.

A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things within your production dynamic? Do you have different roles in the production process?

We find a common language very easily, and in the process of creating music we always have harmony and understanding, as if we on the same wave. We write music together and deal with other issues in the project also together

Working as a duo is an interesting dynamic. Do you guys share a studio where all the sessions are together or do you produce separately and pass files back and forth? And if you have done both, what do you prefer and why?

We have one studio and we always participate together in the process of creating music. Separately, we can make some edits when one of us is busy with other things

Take us through a typical day when you’re not traveling, what does a day in your life look like?

Due to the situation in our country, we do not travel very much now. When we want to rest and recharge, we go to the Carpathian Mountains, as it is close to our home and there we draw energy and inspiration

Looking back on 2023 what gigs of yours have stood out and why?

In 2023, we toured some cities of Ukraine, the most atmospheric performance was in Kyiv in Kureni It was amazing open air party. Also great one was in Odesa at the party in Dvir12. By the way every performance is memorable because you see how people like what you do and this really inspires us.

You have a new single co-produced with Arsanit and Yura Baykonur called ‘Tum Tak’ out now Muse Department. There are two versions, the AM and PM, please tell us a bit about the two versions and how they showcase your current sound?

At first it was one demo from AYU and we shared it with Arsanit, since we are friends, so that he would give us feedback. He really liked the track and offered us to make another version - a remix from him. The remix came out in a different style so we thought it would be better to make two different mixes. The PM version is more aggressive and dynamic for night parties, AM - it's about morning, sunrise and afterparty

Let our readers inside your studio for a moment, what is your current setup and what studio tools are featured heavily in your recent productions and more specifically your Muse Department single?

Our studio is actually very simple, a laptop, a couple of controllers, midi devices and monitors (speakers). For our track Tum Tak, we recorded the flute with our friends at another studio, along with Yura Baykonur's vocals, and then we mixed it all in our studio

How did ‘Tum tak’ find a home on Muse Department and why was the label a good fit for this particular project?

When we performed in one of the clubs in Kyiv, before our set we went to the studio of our friends DJ Lutique & Stas Underhill and listened to some of our unreleased records, and they really liked Tum Tak and offered to release it on their new label, so we agreed.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

We like the whole process of writing a track, from creating melodies, percussions, effects and searching for a new sound to mixing and mastering the finished composition

How would you describe your approach to DJing? And how do you function as a duo while DJing?

Before each performance, we carefully select new releases, promos from our friends and our new works, create a playlist, and try to keep the mix in harmony. “Like any good relationship, a back-to-back is essentially about communication and empathy with your partner,” said Jack Adams. So we are not just a two dj's - we are team

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks, and also, your work as a producer?

When you work as a DJ, you analyze which tracks people like more, and you can't play only what you like, you have to be in the trend. Likewise in production, when you write music, you have to make sure that your track works on the dance floor and people like it.

How much prep do you put into the tracks you choose to play?

Almost every day we listen to a lot of music and make a selection for our next performance. But we fill the main part of the set with our own tracks

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

We like a lot of DJs and Sound Producers around the World, so it would be a festival like Tomorrowland, and we would like to see it happen in Ukraine. Of course, AYU would play a great two-hour set there in prime time, haha  :)

If you were not a DJ/Producer what do you think you’d be doing with your life? (ie something completely outside of the music industry)

Alex: In addition to music, I also love to cook, Italian cuisine is something incredible. Most likely, I would open some small cozy restaurant. Also, since I love video games, maybe I would start a career as a streamer or something like that. I also really like doing photography. So, I think I would have a lot of alternatives to choose from, but for now, music comes first

Yurii: I would run my own business. I would like to open my own car dealership, as I really like everything to do with cars. Maybe I would start collecting rare and classic cars.

Current top five tracks?

Cherry (UA) - Silent
Argy & Weekend Heroes - No One's Coming
AYU (UA) - Endless Horizon
DJ Lutique, Stas Underhill - Activation (Taly Shum Remix)
Duke Dumont feat. Nathan Nicholson - Losing Control

What are some of your favourite TV series? All time and recent.

Recently, we have not been following new TV shows very closely, but there are some beloved classics, such as: The Office, Breaking Bad, The Boys, Misfits

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

In fact, there are many things around us that inspire us and make us happy. The same travels, close people, and support from family. Spending time with friends, discussing plans for the future

What does the remainder of the year hold for you in terms of releases and gigs? Anything you can share with us?

We currently have five major singles and several remixes planned for major international and Ukrainian labels. We will continue to write interesting and unique tracks on a regular basis. We want more and more people to hear our music

And once again, thank you very much for hosting us here. All the Best, Alex & Yurii.

'Tum Tak' is available now via Muse Department: https://tinyurl.com/2yzfstae

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