YAAK, one of Melbourne’s best emerging producers, has recruited MIZUKI, another member of the city’s flourishing dance scene, for the excellent new collaboration ‘BREATHE’. 

MIZUKI’s contemplative vocals effortlessly soar above the ethereal production, YAAK knowing when to hold back and when to unleash. The track is a masterclass in the exciting tension at the heart of the most atmospheric electronica.

The collaboration is the result of two Melbourne-based collectives, On 3 Studio and Hy-Lo Creative, coming together in pursuit of a shared vision. The latter was started last year by YAAK with the aim of helping burgeoning artists navigate the pitfalls of a music industry that can often seem overwhelming to newcomers.

When not helping other musicians do their thing, though, ‘BREATHE’ is ample proof that YAAK has plenty of talent and belief in his own sound (also check out his fiery collaboration with Z. Lewis below).

To celebrate the release of ‘BREATHE’, we caught up with YAAK as part of our Get To Know series to find out more about his life and music.

YAAK’s ‘BREATHE’ is out now.

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How did your artist name come about?

Every time I get asked this, I want to make up some crazy story. Honestly though, It’s just a shortened version of my first name in Arabic; Jacob is Yacoub, so YAAK comes from that!

How would you describe your music to your grandma?

Well, my grandma is an extremely traditional Lebanese woman, so given I can overcome the language and cultural barriers I’d probably just double fist-pump the air and dance. I’m not sure she’d get it, but she’s extremely supportive either way!

Tell us about a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?

‘Above the Clouds’ is a downtempo, electronic track that I released in the midst of Melbourne’s million lockdowns. The whole point was to create a song that could act as a companion to people during those extremely challenging times.

After that release came ’10MERITS’, a raw hip hop-centric banger that I recruited Z.lewis on. It’s my 10th release, and it’s a celebration of the obstacles that I’ve had to overcome up until this point.

My newest release ‘BREATHE’ with Mizuki is a really poetic blend of the two. In a lot of ways, it’s the spiritual successor to ‘Above The Clouds’, but carries itself with all the confidence of a record like ’10MERITS’.

What do you love about your hometown?

There’s not much I don’t love ! Melbourne has this unique amalgamation of cultures, people and places in one spot that very few others do. If variety is the spice of life, then we really have it all; as a creative, that gives me an almost infinite source to draw inspiration from.

I also love the fact that I can pick between 15 different milk options and just as many bean blends when I get my morning coffee.

Career highlight so far?

Definitely hosting a sold out event for the release of my debut EP TIDES. It was such an incredible experience to put on a show from start to finish (through the label I co-founded, Hy-Lo Creative), and to see my music received that way. There was so much love in the building that night, which is why there’s more events on the horizon soon!

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Fave non-music hobby?

It’s too hard to pick one, so I’m going to cheat on this question! I’ve recently become obsessed with learning the visual design side of things (like 3D rendering). Otherwise, I’ve always loved playing video games, and doing anything to keep active.

What’s on your dream rider?

Probably Flamin Hot Cheeto’s & Bottomless Margarita’s. I can only imagine the maelstrom of pain that would cause in my stomach, but I could probably cover that up by having a boogie on stage, so I think it’s actually a win win.

Dream music collaboration?

This is always a really tough one, because my answer is constantly shifting – right now, I’d love to collaborate with IJALE, Flyboy Jack, BROODS or Benee. But that answer will probably change tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years’ time, I see YAAK being a powerhouse production unit for Hy-Lo, across all genres. I’ve got another exciting project releasing soon, and I want to see that fully matured and flourishing by that time.

Ultimately I think I’ll be happy as long as I have the freedom to continue creating and exploring sound with the people I love and respect.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

I’ve always felt weird about the fact that people pay money to go do something that I can do for free in the shower – there’s nobody there to judge me when I’m belting Kacey Musgraves at the top of my lungs. In a karaoke setting, I’ll never say no to ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ by Coolio though.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I think the best advice that I’ve ever received is in acknowledging and appreciating that sometimes there’s a gap between your taste in music and your ability to execute. It can be really frustrating when you venture into a new sound, or are battling writer’s block, to stay positive when you aren’t getting the result that you expect. It’s important to remind yourself that your ear and your intuition are fucking good. Things will fall into place, it’s just a battle of attrition.

What’s one obsession you have that no one would guess after listening to your music?

Recently F1 has been an obsession of mine – the level of technical detail that goes into those things blows my mind. In general, I’m really into science, and all things technology. I think that surprises a lot of people because music is really organic and introspective, but I think that’s only possible because I’m so obsessed with the “why” behind everything too.

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