Dynamic duo Yolanda Be Cool skyrocketed to notoriety following the release of their 2011 single, We No Speak Americano, topping charts in over 16 countries. But after unleashing the 2012 album Ladies & Mentalmen unto the world, the duo have broken out of their mould. HAYLEY DAVIS checked in with them before the Bedroom To Big House DJ Competition launch at Metropolis Fremantle on Friday, December 27 and on Saturday, December 28 at Amplifier.
In October 2012, Andrew ‘Sylvester’ Stanley and Matt ‘Johnson’ Handley – the characters that make up Yolanda Be Cool – issued an international product recall for all digital and hard copy versions of We No Speak Americano, claiming that the beats “are no longer fresh.” The song has been both a blessing and a curse for the boys and the recall was a request for attention to be focused squarely on the music they’re now releasing rather than their past successes.
“On the one hand, we wouldn’t have seen all the amazing things we have seen,” Handley says, “But on the other it can be quite difficult to expect that people won’t pigeon hole you after you have a song that takes on a life of its own. We don’t hate it; we just don’t play it anymore.”
It’s true they have much more to offer than a one hit wonder, as their long awaited, 2012 debut album demonstrated. The crisp, eccentric and dance inducing Ladies & Mentalmen was a refreshing mix of tracks, reviving more ‘90s electro sounds. The release also saw them work with Geoffrey ‘Gurrumul’ Yunipingu on track A Baru In New York.
“It was an absolute pleasure,” Handley says of working with the former Yothu Yindi member. Gurrumul had previously turned down collaborations with a number of high profile artists, so it was much to Yolanda’s surprise that he agreed to work with them. “It was a massive highlight to have him come and sing with us to a packed Mix Up Tent (at Splendour In The Grass). We told him it would be a pretty rowdy crowd compared to what he was used to and afterwards he said with a smile that we were right: ‘It was no Opera House.’”
The pair has not been without other unexpected highlights. On their way to perform in Morocco in 2012, Handley and Stanley were preparing for a crowd of around 9000 people. They arrived as guests of the king who put on a free festival for the country, and found themselves performing to a 90,000 strong crowd stretching as far as the eye could see. “It was pretty crazy,” Handley remembers.
Having spent much time living abroad in the last few years in Ibiza and Berlin, the Sydney-siders have been conscious of their influences and the sounds they want to lean into. “Berlin can definitely be a dangerous place for producers because there is a whole sound that exists there, that pretty much doesn’t exist anywhere else. People call it the ‘Berlin Bubble’ and it’s definitely something we tried to avoid.”
Yolanda Be Cool will be assisting a judging panel of Perth’s Death Disco DJs (Andrei and Anton Maz) to give up-and-coming DJs the chance to showcase their talent on stage at Metropolis Fremantle. For those entering the competition, Handley advises: “Play what you love, make what you love, and it will show.”