The World We Made
L'OFFICIEL Singapore|September 2021
For three artists, music is everything. Reticent busker turned professional musician jason yu found a voice to express himself. It has provided r&b trio brb. With the means to interpret the warm nostalgia of the ’90s in new and exciting ways. And it’s even allowed synth-pop artist yeule to create the safe space that she never had as a teen. Armed with their devialet gemini, they share how they have created new worlds out of music – for themselves and for others
Hillary Kang

YEULE

Growing up, Yeule – real name Nat Ćmiel – felt like she never fit in. Music was her sanctuary. Eventually, it became an outlet and a safe space to explore her identity – something she hopes to provide for teens today who are just like her.

You have had Devialet Gemini for a while now, how did you test them out?

I tested them out on a bunch of different things. I called my best friend in Singapore, Kin Leonn and I told him, “Try to scream.” He did and the low ends were really good! I have a really specific method when I’m testing out new gear – I listen to Jon Hopkins because his music is extremely complex and tethers onto many different frequencies. If it sounds like how I remember it sounding at my friend’s studio in London, then I know it’s good headphones. Devialet Gemini passed that test with flying colors.

What is new with your upcoming album, “Glitch Princess”?

I’m known for my very dreamy, melodic synths, but I think the new record is going to be something that is a bit more noise-oriented – like the dreaminess got sucked out and is gone. There will always be a level of dreaminess in my work because I’m obsessed with utopias. Now that I’ve seen so much of false utopias, I’m ready to go deeper into my own dystopia – to find beauty in the most ridiculous sounds, in the ugliest of noise. Just like how you come to terms with your ugly sides.

Gender and self-identity have always been prominent themes in your music, why is that so?

Some people might think I’m just confused or that I’m trying to get attention from coming out as non-binary, but I truly believe that I have so many personas that some of them are male, some of them are female, some of them don’t have a gender. So many different kinds of people exist in this world. You shouldn’t have to tone down for someone else, for culture or your upbringing. Pure expression is the main catalyst for a lot of my beliefs about gender fluidity. I used to be afraid of putting up my work because of the way I would be perceived. Now that I’ve come to terms with understanding who I am – that I’m fluid, non-binary person – I’m more comfortable and more in touch with myself. It’s comforting to know that there are people who also feel and behave the same way, and grew up in similar situations.

Your aesthetic draws from classic manga and anime, but with a distinctly macabre slant – what is it about that look that draws you in?

I draw my influences from ero guru manga: erotic grotesque. It’s that subversion of normality, about looking for eccentricity in the mundane. It sounds so cringy and cheesy, but I feel like I’ve never fit in – I’ve always felt like an alien. My life has always been very mundane – I grew up in an extremely religious background, I attended local schools and an all-girls school. When I was a teenager, I was a very boring-looking teenager. But inside I felt like I had these fiery burning things that I needed to release – especially with my identity – and I felt I wasn’t in touch with it until I found a common-place through these mangas and animes. It was like I had finally found my people.

How important was it for you to find people like you, to create that sort of safe space?

The words and the meaning in my music allow me to say things that I would not normally say. For example, one of my songs “Pretty Bones” is about addiction and I would never have talked about addiction, outside of music. I grew up in a really conservative household – getting psychiatric help is not a thing, they just think you’re having a “phase”. Once I released that track, many people came up to me to talk about their experiences with addiction or a partner with addiction – which was my experience too. It felt like everyone had a safe space to talk about these things.

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