Yotto has remixed Coldplay and Gorillaz, performed at Coachella and Tomorrowland, landed his debut album at the number one spot on a Billboard chart and gathered millions of streams on Spotify. But in Finland nobody knows him – and he likes it that way.
“Not very green”, electronic music producer Yotto smiles in a bit of an embarrassed manner. He’s talking about his average week. He counted that in the year 2017 he spent 170 days away from home. This year, with the release of his debut album Hyperfall and the tours in support of it, the amount will be about the same. What especially makes Yotto’s line of work environmentally bad is the fact that on Thursdays he flies to the United States or Canada only to return on Sunday. Almost every week.
“The jet lags are a bit rough but it’s bearable, because I get so much energy from spending three weekdays with my family – my wife, a 5-month-old child and our dog.”
Excluding homesickness, Yotto enjoys his time as a lone wolf at faraway places. In fact the dullness of long flights, noisy airports and anonymous hotel rooms feed his inspiration. A lot of Yotto’s music has been made during those vacant moments as the core of his creative process travels with him everywhere in the form of audio software.
There’s really no need to make an album in this genre of music. But I’ve always liked the idea of an album, the wholeness.
Some of those songs can be heard on Yotto’s debut album Hyperfall, which contains almost an hour's worth of melodic and melancholic deep house. It charted at number one on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Album Sales chart. That was of course the first peak position for Yotto but also first for the label Anjunadeep, which released Hyperfall.
“It was nice to see that someone was interested enough to buy the album”, Yotto says with highlighted modesty.
“There’s really no need to make an album in this genre of music. But I’ve always liked the idea of an album, the wholeness. So it really was something that I wanted to do anyways. On the album my fans can hear the kind of music I love to produce, in addition to the dancefloor singles.”
From Helsinki to Brazil
Yotto, real name Otto Yliperttula, was born in Helsinki in 1986. His little sister is a violinist and his little brother, who lends his voice to Hyperfall’s track "Epilogue", has sung in Finland’s oldest and most successful boys’ choir.
“I’ve laughed at the fact that I’m the least musical person in our family”, Yotto says.
Yotto’s musical awakening started in the mid-nineties with visits to the local library and its music compartment.
“I started borrowing records with cover art that spoke to me. Somehow they all turned out to be electronic music. What fascinated me on the album covers were either nice photographs, such as The Chemical Brothers’ Exit Planet Dust and Moby’s Everything is Wrong, or the more abstract approach of Orbital’s album sleeves.”
I started borrowing records with cover art that spoke to me. Somehow they all turned out to be electronic music.
As Yotto’s unexplained interest in electronic music grew deeper in his teenage years, the next step was to start reading British music magazines such as Muzik. Interviews and reports about clubbing helped in him create a mythical vision about the club scene in his head – years before he was actually allowed to enter a club. And when the doors of Helsinki’s many clubs finally opened to him the parameters were right – but it wasn’t exactly like London, Amsterdam or Ibiza.
Yotto didn’t turn out to be a much of a clubber. Even though he travelled to Ibiza, Amsterdam or any other clubbing destination, his approach was that of a fan or a music enthusiast. He wanted to see a certain dj play a certain venue.
That’s why – instead of performing at massive festivals such as Coachella or Tomorrowland – Yotto mentions dj’ing at Warung Beach Club in Brazil as one of his personal highlights.
“I’ve listened to so many sets by so many legends at Warung so it was an amazing experience. But it’s also nice to see that you’ve crossed a certain bar, when people ask you to perform in a place like Ibiza, where you’ve attended parties time and time again.”
Do it again
Remixes play a big part in Yotto’s career. An American dj friend of Yotto’s first asked him for a remix, which was soon picked by Anjunadeep label founders Above & Beyond (a British duo which coincidentally includes another Finn, Paavo Siljamäki). Next thing was that Above & Beyond asked Yotto to record a dj set for their radio show.
“I only included my own music in the set. But instead of playing the mix on air, Above & Beyond signed me on their Anjunadeep label.”
Remixing artists such as Coldplay, Gorillaz, Röyksopp and M83 is a sure way of getting new listeners to a left-fieldish producer like Yotto. But he says he only agrees to remix a song if he likes the original – or at least a part of it. There must be a vocal hook or a synth pattern he can utilize to blow new life into the song.
Another important factor in Yotto’s career is the support he’s had from the BBC, which he’s very grateful from. The London based Anjunadeep has a very good reputation so the radio jockeys listen carefully what the label has to offer. And the dj’s liked Yotto’s track – including BBC’s legendary Pete Tong. Airplay on BBC led to Yotto being asked to participate in BBC Radio 1’s program Essential Mix a year ago.
“That was on my bucket list. I’ve listened to the show since I was a kid downloading bad quality mp3’s of it. It’s an institution.”
Yotto’s tour around the Hyperfall album continues until March 2019. After the tour he dreams about taking some time to spend with his family and just breathe. At home Yotto doesn’t listen to house or techno music – or anything related to his work.
However strange it might sound but Finland really feels like the center of the earth: flights to New York and Tokyo take the same amount of time from here!
“I love listening to big indie rock anthems by Arcade Fire and The National, or the ambient works of Brian Eno.”
After the deserved hiatus it’s time to hit the studio and plan the future. New music, for sure. Own label or maybe a club concept? Who knows.
This is his three-day-shift with his family and I’m consuming one evening of it. So it’s time to let Yotto go. Just one more thing: wouldn’t he want to take his family with him to North America where the gigs are, maybe permanently?
“No. I feel at home here. And however strange it might sound but Finland really feels like the center of the earth: flights to New York and Tokyo take the same amount of time from here!”