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Yoav Shuella [Interview]

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Armadillo opens the spring season by presenting two fresh collaborations from Yoav Shuella and Chicola. Based in Israel, Chicola and Yoav Shuella is a unique collaborative project between father and son. Upon beginning his musical journey as a prodigious piano player, Yoav quickly became interested in his fathers synthesizers and drum machines, often spending hours in the studio with Chicola working on his melody crafting abilities. 2017 proved to be an impactful year for Yoav, although only twelve years old at the time, the young Israeli artist would craft the lead melody for the appropriately titled club anthem ‘Yoav’, a track which was not only incredibly emotive but was released via Guy J’s Lost & Found amidst much praise and a lengthy run of global success, one which not only created endless dancefloor memories but also established Yoav as a young and talented melodic craftsman. Now considered one of the label’s most memorable pieces of music, it ultimately furthered the creative partnership which had been developing with father Chicola, and continued to evolve across the next five calendar years. Now, as a more committed collaborative team, Yoav and Chicola unveil their first ever joint electronica productions as part of the ‘Candyman’ EP, a project which lands appropriately and with much anticipation via Guy J’s Armadillo.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Yoav to learn more about the release of 'Candyman’ and 'Bekushta', his musical background, inspirations, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

Hi Yoav, thanks for talking to us today. What was the last piece of music you listened to?

Mariage Damour by Chopin, its piece of music my grandfather sent me few weeks ago and I was falling in love into that beautiful melody and learned it.

Please tell us five songs (can be electronic music or any genre) which hold great memories from your life so far and why they are important pieces of music for you.

1. Idan Raichel – Quarter To Six (Album)

Idan Raichel is an Israeli singer-songwriter known for blending electronics, traditional Hebrew texts, and various musical styles. His album was a favorite when I was a kid. My dad played it every day, and it was amazing.

2. Lil Wayne – Can’t Be Broken

That song features an incredible piano sample, and I'm a huge fan of Lil Wayne too!

3. La La Land Soundtrack – amazing composing by Justin Hurwitz

I really love the orchestral songs and of course the famous Mia & Sebastien beautiful piano theme.

4. ELO – Mr Blue Sky

I’ve discovered this amazing song when I watched Guardians of the Galaxy, this is song always makes me smile and gives me joy.

5. Dr Dre & Kendrick Lamar – Genocide

This is why I love hip hop so much. Dr Dre is just the best producer for me.

Take us through a typical day for you, what does a day in your life look like?

I wake up at 6:15 every day and drive an hour to school. I study at an art school where half the day is regular subjects and the other half is music—learning theory, harmonies, classics, etc. I usually get back around 16:30, do my homework, then practice music. In the evenings, I have some free time, so sometimes I play PlayStation or jam with my dad in the studio.

As some people may know you are Chicola’s son, so please tell us what growing up around a producer and DJ like your Dad was like and how did this influence your path into electronic music.

As a young boy I remember myself always in my dad’s studio, so I think it was kind of something normal for me to absorb, everything I heard, especially melodic stuff.

What was it about electronic music that fascinated you enough to want to pursue making it at such a young age?

For me, there's a significant similarity between classical music and electronic music. I find it fascinating how some melodies from classical pieces are adapted into the electronic realm. I remember trying to recreate the music from Stranger Things on my dad's synthesizers. When I finally figured it out, I felt incredibly happy and wanted to learn even more.

How often would you say you work on writing melodies or music? And please tell us how this impacts your life in a positive way.

I dedicate time to practicing and composing music nearly every day, sometimes for hours and sometimes just a few minutes, depending on my schedule. With each practice session, I feel like I'm continuously learning and improving my composing skills.

I’m not sure how much you follow electronic music outside of your Dad’s productions but I'm curious if there are other artists you are also inspired by, and if so please tell who and why you admire their talents.

I have a strong affinity for Rap & Hip Hop, particularly artists like Eminem, Lil Wayne, and Joyner Lucas. There's something about the genre that deeply resonates with me.

I also love Niklas Paschburg, especially his amazing track called Journey Among Worlds, the melody of this song is so beautiful and inspiring me.

Although you are still quite young you’re becoming known for your melody crafting abilities, on one of Chicola’s most famous tracks ‘Yoav’ (named after yourself of course) you actually created the melody for this track I think, please tell us how that came to be and how you and your Dad turned that melody into one of 2017’s club anthem.

Sometimes, my dad plays me a loop of a rhythm section, and I compose based on the emotions it evokes. This particular track was born after a day filled with mixed feelings at school. I'm glad my dad recorded it, he created an incredible track around that melody.

You are also an accomplished piano player, how long have you been playing piano? and how has it helped you in making electronic music?

I started playing the piano when I was young. At first, I had private teachers. Then, my mom thought it would be good for me to go to an art school. It wasn't easy to get in, but I'm happy I did because I've learned a lot there. And I am still learning a lot They've taught me about music theory, singing, harmonies, playing in a band, composing, and many other things.

You now have a new EP ‘Candyman / Bekushta’ co-produced with Chicola out now on Guy J’s Armadillo imprint. Tell us about the two tracks and how they showcase the sounds you are creating in the studio.

My dad and I had this idea to start creating music filled with warm analog synthesizers. We spent a lot of time in the studio connecting synthesizers to pedal effects, and we began crafting a truly unique sound. While my dad worked on the rhythm section of our track called "Bekushta," I focused on composing the melodies. And we are very proud of the result.

The track "Candyman." It’s a melody I wrote about a close friend of my family who was murdered at the supernova festival. Ilan Avraham and his wife loved traveling to music festivals all over the world , where he'd hand out lollipops and spread joy. This song is my way of remembering him—a happy, wonderful person I've known since I was little.

I know you’re only seventeen years old but where do you see electronic music taking you in life? Is being a music producer something you want to continue to pursue as you continue to get older and what aspirations, music or otherwise do you have for the future?

My dream is to compose music for movies. It's something I'm really passionate about and hope to achieve one day. I've always loved movie scores. I'm a big fan of Hans Zimmer, and I often find myself trying to recreate orchestral pieces in my dad's studio. Whether it's tense violin sections or intricate woodwind arrangements, experimenting with orchestral sounds is something I enjoy.

Outside of a potential career as a producer what are some other things in life which you’re really passionate about and why?

I have a deep love for animals. At home, we have three cats and a dog, and I thoroughly enjoy taking care of them—feeding them, playing with our dog, and giving them all the care they need. If I weren't pursuing a career in music, I imagine I'd be working with animals in some capacity.

Please tell us something interesting we do not know about you?

I am Vegan.

What are some of your favorite TV series or movies? Both all time and recently, what have you been enjoying lately?

Stranger Things, The Avengers (Infinity War), Guardians of the Galaxy 3. I’ve just watched Dune 2 and its one of the best movies I watched.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Animals, I feel deep connection with Animals.

What does the remainder of 2024 hold for you in terms of music? Are there any plans to release more tracks or is there anything you can share with us?

I'm currently in eleventh grade, and this year is packed with finals, so my main focus is on school. I always manage to find time to create new music. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to finish even more music this year.

'Candyman / Bekushta' is available now via Armadillo: https://tinyurl.com/ycamf9pk

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